Witness for the Prosecution (1982 film)
|Witness for the Prosecution|
|Written by||Agatha Christie (play)|
Billy Wilder (1957 screenplay)
Harry Kurnitz (1957 screenplay)
Lawrence B. Marcus (adaptation) (as Larry Marcus)
John Gay (written for television by)
|Directed by||Alan Gibson|
|Theme music composer||John Cameron|
|Country of origin||UK/USA|
Nick Gillott (associate producer)
|Running time||97 min.|
|Production company(s)||CBS Entertainment Production|
Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions
United Artists Television
|Original release||December 4, 1982|
Sir Wilfred Robarts, a famed barrister, has just been released from the hospital in which he stayed for two months following a heart attack. Returning to his practise of law, he takes the case of Leonard Vole, an unemployed man who is accused of murdering his elderly friend, Mrs. Emily French. Vole claims he's innocent, although all evidence points to him as the killer, but his alibi witness, his cold German wife Christine, instead of entering the court as a witness for the defense, becomes the witness for the prosecution and defiantly testifies that her husband is guilty of the murder. Sir Wilfred believes there's something suspicious going on with the case, particularly with Mrs. Vole.
- Ralph Richardson as Sir Wilfred Robarts
- Deborah Kerr as Miss Plimsoll, the nurse
- Diana Rigg as Christine Vole
- Beau Bridges as Leonard Vole
- Donald Pleasence as Mr. Myers, the prosecutor
- Wendy Hiller as Janet Mackenzie, the housekeeper
- David Langton as Mayhew, Vole's solicitor
- Richard Vernon as Brogan-Moore, Sir Wilfred's colleague
- Peter Sallis as the butler, Carter
- Michael Gough as the Judge
- Frank Mills as Chief Inspector Hearne
- Primi Townsend as Diana
- Patricia Leslie as Mrs. French
The cast includes many veteran and well-known actors such as Sir Ralph Richardson, Deborah Kerr, Diana Rigg, Donald Pleasence, Dame Wendy Hiller, Peter Sallis and Beau Bridges. Unlike the original Billy Wilder film, the TV version stays more faithful to the original Agatha Christie short story, including the scene where Sir Wilfred meets the scarred woman in an apartment at bad-fame streets of London, instead of meeting a cockney woman at the railway station as in the Wilder version.
This version, also, instead of opening with Sir Wilfrid (renamed "Sir Wilfred") returning home, features an opening prologue where Janet Mackenzie returns to her employer's house, where she sees her laughing and drinking with someone, goes upstairs and takes a pattern from her room, and hears noise from downstairs, and discovers in shock her murdered employer, and the murderer escaped.
This was Ralph Richardson's last appearance in films made for television. Kerr made her American TV production debut with this film. Alan Gibson, the director of this film, also directed The Satanic Rites of Dracula, where Richard Vernon, who plays the part of Brogan-Moore in Witness for the Prosecution, had a small role.
John Gay, the writer of the teleplay, also wrote teleplays for the Lux Video Theatre, a television anthology series. Lux Video Theatre also produced an adaptation of Witness for the Prosecution, in 1953 (four years before the Wilder version).
- John J O'Connor (1982-12-03). "Lively Witness for the Prosecution". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
- Tom Shales (1982-12-04). "CBS' Ravaged Witness". Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
- Arthur Unger (1982-12-03). "Deborah Kerr talks about her role in an Agatha Christie whodunit". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2019-01-06.