Judgment at Nuremberg


Action / Drama / History / War

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 90%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 93%
IMDb Rating 8.2 10 58234


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April 28, 2014 at 02:01 AM



Judy Garland as Irene Hoffman
William Shatner as Capt. Harrison Byers
Burt Lancaster as Dr. Ernst Janning
Spencer Tracy as Chief Judge Dan Haywood
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1.03 GB
23.976 fps
3hr 6 min
P/S 3 / 36
2.37 GB
23.976 fps
3hr 6 min
P/S 8 / 23

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Beaucoul 9 / 10

Would a film of that candor have a chance of being made today?

I watched "Judgment at Nuremburg" on PBS the other night. I had never seen it before. I expected an empty-headed, Hollywood-style, quasi-melodrama, but I was pleasantly surprised. Even Spencer Tracy, that universally beloved actor whose appeal has always escaped me, gave an honest and heartfelt portrayal of a "simple man" who was also a deeply conflicted judge.

What I liked most about this movie was that it didn't pull any punches, in the manner of other "controversial" films of its time. The defense attorney, superbly played by Maximilian Schell, weaves a simple, but undeniable web of logic:

  • Sterilization of "undesirables," one of the charges against the Nazi war criminals, was at one time condoned by the U.S. courts, and encouraged by none other than Oliver Wendell Holmes. - Numerous leading industrialists in the U.S. contributed to the development of the Nazi war machine. - Encouragement was given to Hitler's expansionism by both Russia and England. - Churchill is quoted as having admired Hitler. - The Vatican actively collaborated with the Nazis.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it must have taken major cojones to present that kind of message to American filmgoers in 1961. Would a film of that candor have a chance of being made today?

I tend to doubt it.

One further note. The film describes how the Nazis went about stripping the German judiciary of judges who were known for their objectivity, and replacing them with judges who were appointed based solely on their party loyalties.

The mind boggles at the implications and yes, the prescience of this well-written, well-played masterpiece.

Reviewed by gottdeskinos 7 / 10

Emotionalizing for an audience of 1961

First I was worried about the bumpy start. The first trial scenes show constant translating between English and pseudo-German (most actors are obviously not German native speakers). Thank god this stopped after 15 minutes where they switched all to English. (A weird artistic decision, as subtitles would be much more elegant.)

The execution is probably influenced by 12 Angry Men, which came out a few years prior. The movie could have been more focused by centering on fewer characters, also trimming the running time. Performances are outstanding at parts but sometimes heavily overacted. And you have to suspend disbelief sometimes, look beyond fake German accents, which are put on by some actors while others don't even bother.

OK, now to the subject matter, which raises hard questions - if you acknowledge that the world is not always black or white. In many aspects the movie feels very like 1961. Later work of Bernhard Schlink ("The Reader"), for example, demonstrates a more distanced, insightful and complex way to judge guilt within such an inhumane, cruel regime. This movie generally speaking aims mostly for emotionalizing. To an audience of the 21st century, this movie, however, has a different effect as to audiences in 1961 (especially with the dawn of the cold war being noticeable). A lot of scenes address that the USA needed Germany against the Soviets, which influenced the judgement and whether the USA should "go easy" on them.

One key moment is when the prosecuted former judge admits guilt of himself and his country and acknowledges it as important to move forward. Watching this movie in 20xx A.D., one has to notice, that this admittance of guilt (symbolized by certain characters more than others) is a major part of the narrative of German identity by now and has been for decades and generations.

Like the judge had to make a decision from his point of view (after 1945), a today's reviewer has to review from today's perspective. Summing up, the emotional impact this movie aimed for in 1961 is slightly dated by now. (Which is, of course, not to say that the shown filmed evidence of concentration camps is in any way less shocking today.)

Reviewed by Lee Eisenberg 10 / 10

there are several things to consider

Stanley Kramer's "Judgment at Nuremberg" is one of the most intense courtroom movies ever. Focusing on the Nazi trials after WWII, it shows how the prosecution sought to remind people that complicity extended to every segment of the population. Indeed, there were people in the courtroom who thought that Germany should forget about what happened and just move on, but the prosecution reminded everyone that forgetting about what happened could lead to a repeat of the atrocities.

There is also a scene that is of particular interest to me. The defense attorney (Maximilian Schell in an Academy Award-winning role) notes that it was not only Germany that was responsible for the Nazis' crimes against humanity. There was the Vatican's Reichskonkordat, the Soviet Union's treaty with Germany setting the stage for the latter's invasion of Poland, and there were a number of US corporations supporting Hitler. In other words, many different countries abetted the Nazis actions as much as the German citizens did.

This is probably one of the most important movies ever made. It reminds us that justice might not move quickly, but must eventually come. Aside from Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster and Richard Widmark in the top roles, we also have Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift in supporting roles, as well as early appearances of William Shatner and Werner Klemperer.

Everyone should see it.

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