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Town Without Pity
Town Without Pity
Actors: Kirk Douglas, Barbara Rütting, Christine Kaufmann, E.G. Marshall, Hans Nielsen
Director: Gottfried Reinhardt
Genres: Drama
NR     2002     1hr 45min

Three-time OscarÂ(r) nominee* Kirk Douglas is downright brilliant (The New Yorker)in this honest and gripping drama about a sleepy, occupied German town suddenly shocked awake by the brutal actions of four American soldi...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Kirk Douglas, Barbara Rütting, Christine Kaufmann, E.G. Marshall, Hans Nielsen
Director: Gottfried Reinhardt
Creators: Kurt Hasse, Gottfried Reinhardt, Eberhard Meichsner, George Hurdalek, Jan Lustig, Manfred Gregor, Silvia Reinhardt
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Classics
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Black and White - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/05/2002
Original Release Date: 01/01/1961
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1961
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 45min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, German, French
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Powerful and haunting drama
R. Riis | NY | 03/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"One of the best legal dramas, in my opinion, and still a powerful and haunting film after 40 years. Memorable performances from Kirk Douglas as the defense attorney, Christine Kaufman as the teenage rape victim, and Robert Blake and Frank Sutton among the defendants. It's unfortunate that the only extra is the original theatrical trailer."
Powerful Kirk Douglas Movie
Terence Allen | Atlanta, GA USA | 03/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Town Without Pity is a signature Kirk Douglas performance. He plays a JAG lawyer in Germany charged with defending a group of soldiers who are accused of raping a local girl.

Douglas' character knows that to properly defend his clients (who include Richard Jaeckel, Robert Blake, and Frank Sutton), he will have to destroy the girl on the stand. He doesn't want to do it, but circumstances seem to point to its inevitability.

Douglas always seemed to play one of two character types. As the villain, he was ruthless, ambitious, arrogant, and willing to do whatever and sacrifice whomever to achieve his goal. As the hero, he seemed to specialize in playing men who are decent, honorable, noble people who are trying to do the right thing despite overwheliming obstacles like bureaucracy, intolerance, and cruelty. In both, he excelled at playing the tortured soul who suffers despite his motivations.

This is a great film, and worthy of many viewings."
Still Relevant After All These Years
S. D. Clemett | Astoria, NY United States | 02/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Town Without Pity could have been the ultimate exploitation film, if it didn't go beyond the sensationalism of the trailers. Instead it is an excellent character study of a conflicted military lawyer with an impossible job, a victim whose suffering doesn't stop, and a father whose position is endangered by the prejudices or envy of the townspeople. Their attitudes toward poor Karin are poorly explained; we have only Major Garrett's speculation on why they turn against this innocent girl. They tell outrageous lies, repeat rumors, and do whatever they can to sully her reputation. Their motives, however, are less important than how this film indicts a legal system that allows an accused rapist's counsel to blame the victim.

Kirk Douglas gives a stellar performance as the officer who does the dirty job he is assigned and later feels a remorse he isn't permitted to show. Frank Sutton and the other actors playing the defendants paint a picture of pure evil. The best performances are by Christine Kaufmann as the tragic Karin, Hans Nielsen as Karin's deceived father, and Gerhart Lippert as her justifiably outraged boyfriend. Tieing it all together is Barbara Rutting as the German journalist who may be the only person to see through what is going on, but who is straitjacketed by the journalistic responsibility to remain neutral, if only in print.

It is shocking that this film didn't provoke earlier passage of rape shield laws, and for this reason should be mandatory viewing whenever those laws are threatened."
A wonderful courtroom drama and period piece
Roger J. Buffington | Huntington Beach, CA United States | 05/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is an excellent film and a story well told. The time is 1960, the place, West Germany, in a town in which a large US Army contingent is based. The story deals with a tragic rape of a young German girl by four GIs.

Of course, the entire town is howling for the death penalty to be meted out to the four soldiers, three of whom are clearly guilty. The American command is equally horrified and determines that the crime of the four soldiers is an outrage and will be tried and treated as one, with an open trial in the center of town. Much of the town attends.

The film brilliantly develops the theme of the story--the town is riven by hatreds and divisions of wealth and class. Its outrage over the crimes of the soldiers becomes overshadowed by the rivalries and resentments involving the young victim's family. Soon the trial becomes a forum for ridiculing the girl and her family, and ruining what should have been a spotless reputation.

Kirk Douglas turns in a fine performance as the defense counsel, who is both sympathetic to the victim, and ruthless in his tactics aimed at sparing his four clients the death penalty. The courtroom drama here is superb and for once, generally true to life. This is a fascinating film, but unfortunately not a happy or uplifting one.

This film has a special attraction to me, as it was set in postwar Germany, where I served as an Army officer in the 1970s. This film very accurately captures the attitudes and interactions of American soldiers and officers, and German citizens, during the postwar period. The on-location filming adds tremendously to the authenticity of the piece.

This is a dark drama which will nevertheless not fail to move and impress the viewer."