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 »ers. As timely today as it was shocking upon its release, Town Without Pity is an excellent productionone of the decade's finest jobs of filmmaking (Limelight) and will keep you on the edge of your seat! Attorney Steve Garrett (Douglas) is brought in to defend four enlisted men accused of attacking a 16-year-old girl. But if he's going to prevent their death sentences, he will have to turn the spotlight on the victim, Karin. Already immeasurably traumatized, Karin suddenly finds herself on the witness stand, attempting to justify her actions to Garrett, her stern father and a Town Without Pity. *Actor: Champion (1949),The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Lust for Life (1956)« less
"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."
Was justice truly served?
Cory D. Slipman | Rockville Centre, N.Y. | 03/04/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Town Without Pity", a U.S.-German collaboration is a tragic tale of the rape of a young teenaged girl by four U.S. soldiers stationed in post-war Germany. The crime is quickly uncovered and the soldiers are put on trial for court martial.
Kirk Douglas, playing defense attorney Major Steve Garrett has been commissioned to defend the soldiers. A crime of this magnitude could warrant the death penalty. Prosecuting attorney E.G. Marshall, in a familiar role is pushing for exactly that outcome. Poignantly, Douglas while compelled to defend his clients, feels remorse when confronted by the realization that he will have to humiliate the victim, played by 16 year old and future Mrs. Tony Curtis, Christine Kauffman during cross examination to save their lives. He begs the girl's father a proud and stubborn man to spare his daughter from this fate but is rebuffed.
The film takes us through the unfortunate trial and the lack of compassion for the victim as show by the townsfolk. This movie proves that there can be no happy ending in a story of this nature.
Included in the cast as the accused soldiers were veteran actor Richard Jaeckel, Frank Sutton (Sgt. Carter in Gomer Pyle) and a young looking and now accused murderer Robert Blake."