Directed by Stanley Kramer with an all-star cast and earning 11 Academy Award nominations, JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG is a riveting look at the most important trials of the 20th century. Unswervingly taking on the issues, it doesn’t shy away from asking the tough questions in regard to culpability.
Judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) is invited to Germany to serve as part of the international tribunal. Much later in the string of trials, the accused he will be adjudicating over are the German judges who knowingly sentenced innocent men to death at the behest of the Nazis. These include Dr. Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster) and Emil Hahn (Werner Klemperer) who claim they were “just following orders.”
The prosecution has tapped U.S. Col. Ted Lawson (Richard Widmark) to plead their case while the defense attorney for the accused is Hans Rolfe (Maximillian Schell). Schell would win the Best Actor Oscar, one of the two Academy Awards the film ultimately garnered. The other being Abbey Mann for Best Adapted Screenplay.
At almost 3 hours in length JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG takes its time with the material and the characters. Which is welcomed given the talent onboard that also includes supporting roles played by Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift and an up & coming young actor named William Shatner.
As courtroom dramas go, this is one of the best as it also deals with the scars that Hitler’s Nazi war machine inflicted on Germany and the people who reside there post-war. It was an awkward time for both the German people who may or may not have been Nazi sympathizers and the visiting allies who carried their own prejudices about this society that tolerated a madman like Adolf Hitler.
JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG is classic cinema at its best and a MUST SEE MOVIE that’s worth the time spent.
JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG (1961)