Any opportunity to see a Billy Wilder film on the big screen is one not to be missed. The six-time Oscar winning writer-director who brought us such classics as “Some Like It Hot” (1959) and “The Apartment” (1960) remains one of Hollywood’s greatest geniuses. Roanoke’s historic Grandin Theatre will screen his 1957 courtroom drama “Witness for the Prosecution” this Saturday, October 12. The movie is presented by Friendship Retirement as part of the Grandin’s classic film series. It will screen in the main auditorium at 10 a.m. and admission is free.
Six Oscar nominations, including Best Director and Picture, went to this adaptation of famed mystery author Agatha Christie’s short story and stage play. It is the final completed film of romantic and swashbuckling star Tyrone Power. Known for such hits as “The Mark of Zorro” (1940) and “The Black Swan” (1942) before turning to more dramatic roles, he died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 44 in 1958. Here, Powers plays Leonard Vole, a WWII veteran turned inventor charged with murdering a wealthy widow. Over indulging barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts, though recovering from a heart attack, takes Leonard’s case against the wishes of his overprotective nurse. Many surprises follow including the introduction of the title character.
Commanding English actor Charles Laughton, best known for “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1939), “Mutiny on the Bounty” (1935) and his Oscar winning “The Private Life of Henry VIII” (1933), received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his delightful work as Sir Wilfrid. Real-life wife Elsa Lanchester (“The Bride of Frankenstein”) received a Supporting Actress nomination as his nurse Miss Plimsoll and won the Golden Globe for her performance. Sultry German actress Marlene Dietrich (“Destry Rides Again”) is also well cast as Vole’s German actress wife Christine.
According to TCM.com, the cast did not know the film’s outcome until the final day of shooting and in its original release movie goers were asked to sign cards swearing to not give away the ending. Come discover how it all plays yourself at the Grandin this weekend.