Nominated* for eleven Academy Awards┬(r), including Best Picture, Judgment at Nuremberg is "magnificent" (Los Angeles Times), "continuously exciting" (The New Yorker) andboasts brilliant performances by an all-star cast. ... more » American judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) presides over the trial of four German jurists accused of "legalizing" Nazi atrocities. But as graphic accounts of sterilization and murder unfold in the courtroom, mounting political pressure for leniency forces Haywood to make the most harrowing and difficult decision of his career. *1961: Actor (Maximilian Schell, won); Actor (Spencer Tracy); Supporting Actor (Montgomery Clift); Supporting Actress (Judy Garland); Director; Adapted Screenplay (won); Cinematography (B&W); Art Direction (B&W); Film Editing; Costume Design (B&W).« less
A Numbing But Unforgettable Depiction Of The War Trials!
Barron Laycock | Temple, New Hampshire United States | 07/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is truly an astonishing movie. After seeing it one wonders that Spencer Tracy did not win the Academy Award for his performance here. Of course, another actor in the cast, Maxmillian Schell, playing the German defense attorney, did! In many ways the movie is the senior brother to "Schindler's List", acting to probe thoughtfully through the mist of euphemisms, excuses and exaggerations of the era. And sifting out some remarkable, memorable, and noble notions about what human beings should be held responsible for in terms of their social attitudes, civic behavior and public actions. Ostensibly, the action takes place after the more sensational trials of the Nazi hierarchy, when the public appetite for blood, revenge, and harsh justice had been somewhat abated. Tracy plays a relatively obscure retired rural American judge called upon to act as one of the three presiding judges in overseeing the trials of prominent German jurists who had co-operated, collaborated, and then presided over the gradual civil drift from a nation whose conduct and laws were based on a corpus of jurisprudence to one characterized by crackpot eugenic policies, blatant racism, & officially-sanctioned violence and mayhem. Burt Lancaster plays a pre-eminent German judge, one famed for his legal treatises and international reputation as a jurist. Through the prism of the testimony of both the judges on trial and their cross examination by a zealous American military prosecutor played masterfully by a young Richard Widmark, the viewer begins to understand much more about the slippery slope most of the jurists had unwittingly embarked upon. Add into this equation the introduction of a sensational set of key witnesses played by Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift, and the full emotional impact and profound significance of what these judges had allowed to happen truly gels. This is an unforgettable and remarkably unique movie, truly a classic and cautionary tale based on the historical record of what the Germans did to each other, based on fact. And by the way, be sure to listen carefully to the final several scenes in which Tracy takes full advantage of several opportunities to cut through all the equivocations, half-truths, and "honest mistake" nonsense, literally electrifying the screen with the power of his monologue and his superb acting. He was truly one of a kind, too. Wow! Don't miss this"
Drama at its finest about right, wrong and very hard choices
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 06/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's a serious and timeless theme to this award winning 1961 courtroom drama of four former Nazi judges on trial for war crimes in occupied Germany in 1948. It's not the story of the military leaders who had already been tried and convicted. Rather, these were the men who survived the war by following the laws that ruled the nation. There are deep moral questions here, such as what a judge's responsibility is. After all, judges do not make the laws; they just carry them out.Stanley Kramer, the director, had great material to work with. The screenplay by Abby Mann was powerful. And the cast included some of the finest actors of the time. Spencer Tracy plays the judge, a widower from Maine with simple tastes. He's a bit embarrassed to be given a large house, formerly occupied by a high ranking Nazi officer whose surviving wife is played by Marlene Dietrich. The judge has a difficult job and he ponders it as he walks through the ruins of the city with wide-eyed wonder. How could all of the horror have happened? And who is responsible?Responsibility, however, which is the theme of the film, is not so clear cut. And as the trial progresses, all the shades of gray involved in this concept are brought to light. Burt Lancaster is cast as one of the judges on trial, a dignified and respected man of the law. Richard Widmark is cast as the prosecuting attorney, a colonel who had personally been present at the liberation of the concentration camps. And Maximilian Schell, in an Academy Award winning performance, plays the part of the defending attorney whose outstanding legal expertise keeps shedding new light on the evidence. Judy Garland is one of the witnesses, and so is Montgomery Cliff. The entire cast is excellent. I found myself holding my breath as the twists and turns of the legal implications were examined with fine-honed brilliance.
The film takes up two videotapes and runs for three hours and six minutes and there is not one slow moment. I watched it with a sense of total involvement. I couldn't help but transpose all the legal and moral arguments to what is happening in our world today. And my own mind went though its own little debate as to the subtleties of right and wrong and the hard choices that must be made. This is drama at its finest. And a truly magnificent film. I give it my highest recommendation."
James L. | 12/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Spencer Tracy stars as an American judge who travels to Germany in 1948 to take part in the Nuremberg trials. For eight months he chairs the panel trying four German judges, one of whom is respected scholar Burt Lancaster. Defense Attorney Maxmillian Schell makes the case that the men were simply following the law as written in Nazi Germany and cannot be held accountable for the brutality inflicted on those found guilty. Prosecutor Richard Widmark argues that the men knew what they were doing and understood the fate of those found guilty and that they acted inhumanely. Both men argue their cases well in a trial marked by emotion and great drama. Judgment at Nuremberg is a powerful movie, since it deals with atrocities and wounds that may never be completely healed. It also deals with a fundamental question that surrounds war: Are people who are simply following orders (or the law as it exists in their country) to be held responsible for their actions and the fate of those they affect. The film's screenplay is sharp, honest, and makes points on both sides, although emotion certainly affects how one answers the questions it raises. More than anything, however, this movie is about acting. Tracy is the rock that centres the film, the weight of his characters decisions ever present on his face and in his motions. Schell and Widmark have plenty of chances to set off fireworks as the lawyers, and they take full advantage of the opportunity. Lancaster is quietly strong and imposing, never getting much dialogue, but establishing a presence throughout the whole film. Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift have brief scenes as victims of Nazi laws who testify against the defendants. Both actors give outstanding performances, almost uncomfortable to watch they are so real. Marlene Dietrich as the widow of an executed Nazi general is also very strong in one of her last performances. Her scenes with Tracy are a joy to watch - two old pros who have seen a lot in their lives. Judgment at Nuremberg is a long film, but it never lags. Whether you simply watch it as a fine courtroom drama or take its messages about responsibility deeper, it is well worth watching. It deals with a part of our history we would probably like to forget, but never should."
A great film about the War-Crime trials.
weirdo_87 | Rancho Cucamonga, CA USA | 04/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With an all star cast, Judgment at Nuremberg certainly delivers with powerful acting and great directing by Stanley Kramer. Burt Lancaster portrays one of four-nazi judges convicted of war crimes at the Nuremberg trials. The year is 1948, two years since the main Nuremberg trials concluded and 3 years since World War 2 ended. Throughout the film, mention is made of the cold war. The invasion of Czechoslovakia and the Berlin Airlift are mentioned. Also, Emil Hahn (Played by Werner Klemperer, the future Colonel Klink) states, after he is sentenced, "...Tomorrow the Bolsheviks sentence you!" Speaking of perfromances, fine performances are also given by just about the entire cast, from Spencer Tracy as Judge Dan Heywood, to Montgomery Clift playing Rudolph Peterson, a victim of nazi atrocities. Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich also give great performances. But it is Lancaster, Richard Widmark and Maxmilian Schell (Who won an Oscar for Best Actor) who steal the show. In addition to everything listed above, the film's music fits it like a glove. The cinematography is also good. In addition, this version also includes the original theatrical trailer. This is definately one of my ten favorites and deserves a spot in the collection of any film buff (It has a spot in mine)."
NOT ANAMORPHIC BUT BETTER THAN AVERAGE
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 08/19/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Judgment at Nuremberg" is Stanley Kramer's often stagy, often stoic, though never anything less than completely engrossing, post-WWII melodrama. It's high octane film making driven by star performances and masterfully scripted dialogue; a vital, tragic, yet overall life affirming message picture about the difference between abiding the law and doing what is just in an unjust world. The film stars Spencer Tracy as the honorable American Judge Dan Haywood, assigned to supervise the trial of four German justices, including Dr. Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster) who have been accused of sending innocent men to their brutal deaths in Nazi concentration camps. Put up in the home of a former high ranking Nazi official, Haywood gains personal insight into the aftermath of Germany's political climate through his engagement of the servants (Ben Wright and Virginia Christine) and through a chance meeting with their former mistress, Madame Bertholt (Marlene Dietrich). But the real spark of this film is to be found in the mutual bitterness between passionate Defense Attorney Hans Rolfe (Maximilian Schell) and the pronouncedly defiant Colonel Tad Lawson (Richard Widmark), who serves as lead prosecutor. In a cameo appearance Judy Garland is remarkably heartbreaking as Irene Hoffman, a middle-aged frump whose fatherly relationship with a Jewish gentleman resulting in his death. Nominated for an astounding 11 Academy Awards, and winner of 2, "Judgment at Nuremberg" remains a benchmark of 60s cinema - a powerful and emotionally satisfying film for the ages.
Although MGM's DVD is NOT anamorphically enhanced, it delivers a very smooth image that will surely not disappoint. The B&W picture is remarkably clean, with minimal film grain, accurately rendered contrast levels, deep solid blacks and very clean whites. The audio has been remixed to 5.1 (the original mono is also included). The two are practically identical in their spatial separation and fidelity, though in the 5.1 mix the music track is decidedly the benefactor. Extras include a 20 minute thoroughly insightful featurette in which screenwriter Abby Mann and co-star Maximilian Schell speak of their experiences on the film. Both are so well spoken and frank that they put many a new audio commentary track to shame with their genuine ability to talk on cue. Also included is a 15 minute tribute to Stanley Kramer that is very nicely done, if all too brief. A photo gallery, theatrical trailer and promotional junket materials round out the extras. "