Sunday, April 28, 2013

Stanley Kramer: Judgment at Nuremberg (Take II)

Stanley Kramer's film version of Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) is based on the teleplay by Abby Mann, which is why it's so dialogue-driven. Three central characters hold the intense drama together: the main presiding judge (Spencer Tracy), the main prosecutor (Richard Widmark) and the main defending attorney (Maximilian Schell).

They are supported by various others, such as a military liaison (William Shatner, who brings some levity to interpersonal scenes), the aristocratic widow (Marlene Dietrich) of an executed German general, the friend (Judy Garland) of an older Jewish man who was framed and executed by the Nazis before the Holocaust was well underway, an austere German judge who went with the Nazi flow (Burt Lancaster, over the top), a zealous and unrepentent anti-communist former Nazi judge (Werner Klemperer -- Colonel Klink of Hogan's Heroes), a simple-minded working man who was sterilized by court order before the war because his father was a communist (memorably done by Montgomery Clift), and a slew of minor characters.

Hitler's only been dead for a couple of years and already 1) many people are tired of the proceedings in Germany, even in "Allied" countries; 2) the dynamics of the Cold War have already replaced the Second World War in the minds of many policymakers on all sides; 3) the "West" intends to use the part of Germany under its aegis as a bulwark against Joseph Stalin's energies. That is, "Justice" is tinged and directed by political pressures, but not for everyone involved.

Today's Rune: Warrior.   

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