One of the best plotted and dramatic courtroom dramas ever — perhaps not a surprise when you know that Agatha Christie wrote the screenplay. Many versions have been made, but for good reason, the classic is the 1957 version directed by Billy Wilder and starring Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power, and Elsa Lancaster. Charles Laughton plays the veteran barrister who has to defend Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power) for the murder of Emily French, a wealthy older woman who made Leonard her principal heir. His wife, Romaine (Marlene Dietrich), is an older cabaret singer Vole met in Germany during the war, a piece of work — an older, more desperate “blue angel” — and Laughton is loath to have her testify. But testify she does: for the prosecution.
The ending has a typical Christie surprise twist (which may not seem so surprising today). Laughton is the most fun to watch, as a prototypical male barrister of his time, sneaking under the eye of his nurse (watching him after a heart attack) to smoke cigars and drink brandy to get him through the trial.