Judgment at Nuremberg


D: Stanley Kramer

United Artists/Roxlom (Stanley Kramer)

US 1961

179 mins


W: Abby Mann [based on his 1959 teleplay]

DP: Ernest Laszlo

Ed: Frederic Knudtson

Mus: Ernest Gold

PD: Rudolph Sternad

Spencer Tracy (Judge Dan Haywood), Burt Lancaster (Dr. Ernest Janning), Richard Widmark (Col. Tad Lawson), Maximilian Schell (Hans Rolfe), Werner Klemperer (Emil Hahn), Marlene Dietrich (Frau Bertholt), Montgomery Clift (Rudolph Peterson), Judy Garland (Irene Hoffman-Wallner), William Shatner (Capt. Harrison Byers)

Spencer Tracy may have received top billing, but this is an ensemble piece where nearly every actor involved puts in a tour de force performance, with Maximilian Schell winning the Best Actor Oscar for his work.

This fictionalised recreation of the Nuremberg trials has Tracy's judge presiding over the tribunal, where four German judges sitting in the dock for the alleged crime of sending people they knew to be innocent to prison and POW camps, where many met their deaths due to the Nazi regime of WWII.

The courtroom element of the movie engages the plot for most of the running time, and its these scenes which are completely engrossing, dramatically important and incredibly harrowing.

Directed by Stanley Kramer, who has history of being quite heavy-handed with political messages in his movies, is quite reserved and low-key with his execution here, knowing when to take a step back and when to deliver a devastating punch. 

There are a handful of scenes taking place outside the courtroom which the film could have done without. They don't serve the plot and only seem to have made the cut because they give Spencer Tracy a little more screen-time.

It is very much an actor's movie though, Spencer Tracy, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift and Judy Garland being the absolute standouts. Abby Mann's screenplay also deserves recognition, particularly for the lengthy speeches in the final act.

Very close to being a masterpiece, if only some nip & tuck was performed on the unnecessary scenes.


Judgment at Nuremberg
Judgment at Nuremberg