The true story of the 1948 Judges' Trial in Nuremberg, Germany in which
a number of Nazis were judged for war crimes by an American court.
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
Directed by Stanley Kramer
Written by Abby Mann
Starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift, William Shatner, Werner Klemperer, Virginia Christine
Oscar Wins - Best Actor (Maximilian Schell),
Best Adapted Screenplay
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Spencer Tracy),
Best Supporting Actor (Montgomery Clift), Best Supporting Actress (Judy Garland), Best Director, Best Cinematography,
Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing
Judgment at Nuremberg is the most powerful courtroom drama I've ever had the privilege to watch, and also one of the most important films I've seen in a very long time. With an ensemble cast of some of the greatest actors of the 50's and 60's, it's no surprise that I enjoyed every performance in this movie. What made me give this film a score that I haven't given out in ages is how brilliantly it handles the subject matter. Between the years of 1938 and 1945, the world was at war with Germany, and during that war, six million Jewish men, women, and children were murdered and disposed of like garbage. Soon after the war, American courts held trials in occupied Germany to sentence those responsible for crimes against humanity. In this film, one of these trials is depicted, and I found myself in tears watching the actual footage of the concentration camps.
The film stars Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell, Judy Garland, and Montgomery Clift primarily. All of them give career-defining performances, particularly Schell's vigorous performance as Hans Rolfe, attorney for the defense who finds himself in the difficult position of having to defend four Nazis as a German citizen. Every actor brings a different flair to the film, so much so that you barely notice the three hour runtime. You feel the weight of the victims and the ghost of Adolf Hitler haunting the film. The full scope and inhumanity of the Holocaust is never lost on this film.
Judgment at Nuremberg immediately became one of my favorite WWII movies as soon as I finished it. I can't stress enough my enjoyment of the performances and my absolute shock and horror at the real footage of the camps that's used in the film. Several points are made about who should be held accountable for Hitler's reign of terror, since many Germans knew nothing of the true scale of the Holocaust and many world leaders allowed Hitler to rule Germany because they didn't see him as a legitimate threat. I think there's enough blame to go around, and so does the movie, and they also make the point that people aren't inherently good or evil. Everyone is born with the capacity for both, and choosing which side dominates your life will determine how history will remember you.