History Film / WitnessForTheProsecution

11th Feb '16 9:27:53 AM NotThisThing
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A short story by Creator/AgathaChristie, made into a 1957 film.

Leonard Stephen Vole, an amiable and good-natured blood donor with an excellent war record, has been charged with murder. The victim: Miss Emily French, a lonely but wealthy widow with whom Leonard had become friendly recently. Unfortunately for Leonard, it is revealed that Miss French had left Leonard eighty thousand pounds, making for quite a motive. Leonard's case rests entirely on circumstantial evidence, and his acquittal relies on the testimony of his cold and calculating German wife, Christine Vole, who is the only person who can provide an alibi. Leonard and his solicitor seek the advice of London's best and most experienced barrister, Sir Wilfrid Robarts, who takes Leonard's case himself despite his rapidly deteriorating health.

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A short story by Creator/AgathaChristie, made into a 1953 play, which was then adapted into a 1957 film.

Leonard Stephen Vole, an amiable and good-natured blood donor with an excellent war record, has been charged with murder. The victim: Miss Emily French, a lonely but wealthy widow with whom Leonard had become friendly recently. Unfortunately for Leonard, it is revealed that Miss French had left Leonard eighty thousand pounds, making for quite a motive. Leonard's case rests entirely on circumstantial evidence, and his acquittal relies on the testimony of his cold and calculating German wife, Christine Vole, Vole (her first name is Romaine in the short story and play), who is the only person who can provide an alibi. Leonard and his solicitor seek the advice of London's best and most experienced barrister, Sir Wilfrid Robarts, who takes Leonard's case himself despite his rapidly deteriorating health.



* ChekhovsGun: The ham knife. Sir Wilfrid uses a bluff about it to get Christine to incriminate herself as the letter writer, then Christine uses the knife to stab Leonard.



* NotSoStoic: Christine's calm breaks only twice. First is when the letters from Max are revealed and show her testimony against Leonard as a lie, and she shrieks "''DAMN YOU!''" across the courtroom. But this was an act. The second time is when Leonard callously dumps her for a girl he met shortly before the murder, and it's genuine--she's shattered by the betrayal, and then she murders him.

to:

* NotSoStoic: Christine's calm breaks only twice. First is when the letters from Max are revealed and show her testimony against Leonard as a lie, and she shrieks "''DAMN YOU!''" across the courtroom. But this was an act. The second time is when Leonard callously dumps her for a girl he met shortly before the murder, and it's genuine--she's genuine—she's shattered by the betrayal, and then she murders him.



* TheStoic: Christine appears to be unaffected by ''anything''--when she learns of Leonard's arrest, she's so calm that Sir Wilfrid decides he does not want her near the stand at all. And when she's pulled from an angry mob after the trial, her only complaint is that they laddered her last pair of stockings.

to:

* TheStoic: Christine appears to be unaffected by ''anything''--when ''anything''—when she learns of Leonard's arrest, she's so calm that Sir Wilfrid decides he does not want her near the stand at all. And when she's pulled from an angry mob after the trial, her only complaint is that they laddered her last pair of stockings.



** BornInTheTheater: A voiceover during the end credits encourages viewers not to [[{{Spoiler}} Spoil]] the ending in the name of "the management of this theater".

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** BornInTheTheater: A voiceover during the end credits encourages viewers not to [[{{Spoiler}} Spoil]] the ending in the name of "the management of this theater".theater."
7th Oct '15 7:33:37 PM AJD
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Added DiffLines:

* GenreSavvy: Sir Wilfrid suspects ''something'' is too good to be true about the DeusExMachina delivery of surprise evidence to him after Christine's testimony, though he doesn't actually solve the puzzle.
7th Oct '15 7:32:10 PM AJD
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* InsistentTerminology: When someone exclaims that Christine killed Leonard, Sir Wilfrid rephrases it: "She ''executed'' him."



* WorthyOpponent: Mr. Meyers has a good deal of professional respect for Sir Wilfrid and even makes a wager with him on the outcome of the trial.

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* WorthyOpponent: Mr. Meyers has a good deal of professional respect for Sir Wilfrid and even makes a wager with him on the outcome of the trial.
Wilfrid.
2nd Oct '15 4:20:36 AM jormis29
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* HollywoodLaw: Surely a barrister of Sir Wilfrid's experience could have gotten Christine's testimony for the prosecution disallowed by arguing that since Leonard Vole did not know she was already married, that would make her his putative spouse and thus spousal privilege would still apply.

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* HollywoodLaw: Surely a barrister of Sir Wilfrid's experience could have gotten Christine's testimony for the prosecution disallowed by arguing that since Leonard Vole did not know she was already married, that would make her his putative spouse and thus spousal privilege SpousalPrivilege would still apply.
23rd Aug '15 9:03:02 PM eowynjedi
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* AnnoyingPatient: Sir Wilfrid, who screams at Mrs. Plimsoll and sabotages her treatment, when all she's trying to do is keep him from going into another coma.

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* AnnoyingPatient: Sir Wilfrid, who screams at Mrs. Plimsoll and sabotages her treatment, when all treatment. (Granted, she does get rather twee, but she's also trying to do is keep him from going into avert another coma.heart attack.)



* MotorMouth: Miss Plimsoll is capable of carrying on both sides of a conversation by herself and bringing it to a rapid conclusion.



* TheSociopath: Christine poses as one, manipulating two men to do her bidding (marrying her and attacking an ex), lying without any effort, and having no empathy at all for Leonard. But it's Leonard who's the true sociopath. He's an admitted drifter who befriended a lonely widow for amusement, and then let her make him a pet when he learned of her vast wealth, in hopes of funding his {{Homemade Invention|s}}. Shortly thereafter he got her to put him in her will and then murdered her. Up until the end he plays the role of desperate innocent without fault. When Sir Wilfrid expresses his horror and outrage at having acquitted such a scoundrel, Leonard casually brushes it off and offers to cover him in gold. He's similarly guilt-free when he reveals that he's abandoned Christine for a woman he ran into outside a travel agency, even though he relied on her unquestioning love to perjure herself for him. No wonder she stabs him.

to:

* TheSociopath: Christine poses as one, manipulating two men to do her bidding (marrying her and attacking an ex), lying without any effort, and having no empathy at all for Leonard. But it's Leonard who's the true sociopath. He's an admitted drifter who befriended a lonely widow for amusement, and then let her make him a pet when he learned of her vast wealth, in hopes of funding his {{Homemade Invention|s}}. Shortly thereafter he got her to put him in her will and then murdered her. Up until the end he plays the role of desperate innocent without fault. When Sir Wilfrid expresses his horror and outrage at having acquitted such a scoundrel, Leonard casually brushes it off and offers to cover him in gold. He's similarly guilt-free when he reveals that he's abandoned Christine been having an affair for a woman he ran into outside a travel agency, months and intends to leave Christine, even though he relied on her unquestioning love to perjure herself for him. No wonder she stabs him.


Added DiffLines:

* ThisCannotBe: Sir Wilfrid's immediate reaction when Christine reveals that Leonard really did murder Mrs. French.
23rd Aug '15 8:57:10 PM eowynjedi
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'''Sir Wilfred''': We try not to make a habit of it.''

to:

'''Sir Wilfred''': Wilfrid''': We try not to make a habit of it.''



Leonard Stephen Vole, an amiable and good-natured blood donor with an excellent war record, has been charged with murder. The victim: Miss Emily French, a lonely but wealthy widow with whom Leonard had become friendly recently. Unfortunately for Leonard, it is revealed that Miss French had left Leonard eighty thousand pounds, making for quite a motive. Leonard's case rests entirely on circumstantial evidence, and his acquittal relies on the testimony of his cold and calculating German wife, Christine Vole, who is the only person who can provide an alibi. Leonard and his solicitor seek the advice of London's best and most experienced barrister, Sir Wilfred Robarts, who takes Leonard's case himself despite his rapidly deteriorating health.

What follows is a three-day trial, during which time the prosecution makes a convincing case for Leonard's guilt and Sir Wilfred attempts to prove his innocence. After some time, a surprise witness is called, and twist after twist keeps everyone in the courtroom - and the audience - on the edge of their seats.

The film version was directed by Creator/BillyWilder and starred Tyrone Power as Leonard, Creator/MarleneDietrich as Christine and Creator/CharlesLaughton as Sir Wilfred. Tyrone Power's last film, as he suffered a fatal heart attack on the set of his next production, ''Film/SolomonAndSheba''.

to:

Leonard Stephen Vole, an amiable and good-natured blood donor with an excellent war record, has been charged with murder. The victim: Miss Emily French, a lonely but wealthy widow with whom Leonard had become friendly recently. Unfortunately for Leonard, it is revealed that Miss French had left Leonard eighty thousand pounds, making for quite a motive. Leonard's case rests entirely on circumstantial evidence, and his acquittal relies on the testimony of his cold and calculating German wife, Christine Vole, who is the only person who can provide an alibi. Leonard and his solicitor seek the advice of London's best and most experienced barrister, Sir Wilfred Wilfrid Robarts, who takes Leonard's case himself despite his rapidly deteriorating health.

What follows is a three-day trial, during which time the prosecution makes a convincing case for Leonard's guilt and Sir Wilfred Wilfrid attempts to prove his innocence. After some time, a surprise witness is called, and twist after twist keeps everyone in the courtroom - and the audience - on the edge of their seats.

The film version was directed by Creator/BillyWilder and starred Tyrone Power as Leonard, Creator/MarleneDietrich as Christine and Creator/CharlesLaughton as Sir Wilfred.Wilfrid. Tyrone Power's last film, as he suffered a fatal heart attack on the set of his next production, ''Film/SolomonAndSheba''.



* TheAdventureContinues: The film ends with Sir Wilfred declaring that he will be acting as the defense for Christine Vole.

to:

* TheAdventureContinues: The film ends with Sir Wilfred Wilfrid declaring that he will be acting as the defense for Christine Vole.



* AnnoyingPatient: Sir Wilfred, who screams at Mrs. Plimsoll and sabotages her treatment, when all she's trying to do is keep him from going into another coma.
* BatmanGambit: Sir Wilfred tells Christine that while she can't be forced to speak against her husband, the testimony of a loving wife will count for very little in a murder case. So she plays a cold, unfaithful wife who is then discredited by new evidence to "prove" Leonard's innocence.

to:

* AnnoyingPatient: Sir Wilfred, Wilfrid, who screams at Mrs. Plimsoll and sabotages her treatment, when all she's trying to do is keep him from going into another coma.
* BatmanGambit: Sir Wilfred Wilfrid tells Christine that while she can't be forced to speak against her husband, the testimony of a loving wife will count for very little in a murder case. So she plays a cold, unfaithful wife who is then discredited by new evidence to "prove" Leonard's innocence.



* CourtroomAntics: Mild compared to some cases, but Sir Wilfred plays a few tricks during the trial. Leonard also loudly contradicts Christine's testimony from the gallery, for which the judge does threaten to throw him out of court.

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* CourtroomAntics: Mild compared to some cases, but Sir Wilfred Wilfrid plays a few tricks during the trial. Leonard also loudly contradicts Christine's testimony from the gallery, for which the judge does threaten to throw him out of court.



** Sir Wilfred.

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** Sir Wilfred.Wilfrid.



* GoodLawyersGoodClients: Sir Wilfred only decides to defend Leonard Vole after he's convinced of his innocence.

to:

* GoodLawyersGoodClients: Sir Wilfred Wilfrid only decides to defend Leonard Vole after he's convinced of his innocence.



* HighClassGlass: Sir Wilfred sports one of these, and [[ScaryShinyGlasses uses it]] when interviewing clients.
* HollywoodLaw: Surely a barrister of Sir Wilfred's experience could have gotten Christine's testimony for the prosecution disallowed by arguing that since Leonard Vole did not know she was already married, that would make her his putative spouse and thus spousal privilege would still apply.

to:

* HighClassGlass: Sir Wilfred Wilfrid sports one of these, and [[ScaryShinyGlasses uses it]] when interviewing clients.
* HollywoodLaw: Surely a barrister of Sir Wilfred's Wilfrid's experience could have gotten Christine's testimony for the prosecution disallowed by arguing that since Leonard Vole did not know she was already married, that would make her his putative spouse and thus spousal privilege would still apply.



* InsistentTerminology: When someone exclaims that Christine killed Leonard, Sir Wilfred rephrases it: "She ''executed'' him."

to:

* InsistentTerminology: When someone exclaims that Christine killed Leonard, Sir Wilfred Wilfrid rephrases it: "She ''executed'' him."



* ManipulativeBastard: Leonard twists both Christine and Wilfred around in different ways.

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* ManipulativeBastard: Leonard twists both Christine and Wilfred Wilfrid around in different ways.



** Sir Wilfred is incensed when he learns that he's acquitted a thoroughly guilty man.

to:

** Sir Wilfred Wilfrid is incensed when he learns that he's acquitted a thoroughly guilty man.



* NoExceptYes: When Sir Wilfred accuses Mrs. [=McKenzie=] of being antagonistic towards Leonard from the start, she denies it--then calls him a shiftless, scheming scoundrel, but she's ''not'' "antag'nistic".

to:

* NoExceptYes: When Sir Wilfred Wilfrid accuses Mrs. [=McKenzie=] of being antagonistic towards Leonard from the start, she denies it--then calls him a shiftless, scheming scoundrel, but she's ''not'' "antag'nistic".



* OldRetainer: Mrs. [=McKenzie=] was Mrs. French's housekeeper of ten years. She disliked Leonard from the start, and Wilfred paints her as being biased because she was cut out of Mrs. French's will in favor of Leonard.
* [[ScaryShinyGlasses Scary Shiny Monocle]]: Sir Wilfred uses this to test potential clients for their honesty. Leonard passes, but Christine cuts it short by closing the blinds to stop him reflecting it in her eyes (a failure). In the end, it proves to be an unreliable gauge of their characters.

to:

* OldRetainer: Mrs. [=McKenzie=] was Mrs. French's housekeeper of ten years. She disliked Leonard from the start, and Wilfred Wilfrid paints her as being biased because she was cut out of Mrs. French's will in favor of Leonard.
* [[ScaryShinyGlasses Scary Shiny Monocle]]: Sir Wilfred Wilfrid uses this to test potential clients for their honesty. Leonard passes, but Christine cuts it short by closing the blinds to stop him reflecting it in her eyes (a failure). In the end, it proves to be an unreliable gauge of their characters.



* TheSociopath: Christine poses as one, manipulating two men to do her bidding (marrying her and attacking an ex), lying without any effort, and having no empathy at all for Leonard. But it's Leonard who's the true sociopath. He's an admitted drifter who befriended a lonely widow for amusement, and then let her make him a pet when he learned of her vast wealth, in hopes of funding his {{Homemade Invention|s}}. Shortly thereafter he got her to put him in her will and then murdered her. Up until the end he plays the role of desperate innocent without fault. When Sir Wilfred expresses his horror and outrage at having acquitted such a scoundrel, Leonard casually brushes it off and offers to cover him in gold. He's similarly guilt-free when he reveals that he's abandoned Christine for a woman he ran into outside a travel agency, even though he relied on her unquestioning love to perjure herself for him. No wonder she stabs him.
* TheStoic: Christine appears to be unaffected by ''anything''--when she learns of Leonard's arrest, she's so calm that Sir Wilfred decides he does not want her near the stand at all. And when she's pulled from an angry mob after the trial, her only complaint is that they laddered her last pair of stockings.
* SurpriseWitness: Christine twice over, once when she's unexpectedly called by the prosecution, and once when Sir Wilfred recalls her.
* TimePassesMontage: Marked by the number of Sir Wilfred's pills (taken on the hour) that remain.
* TitleDrop: At the end, when Christine reveals to Sir Wilfred that she wanted to be a witness for the prosecution, because a supportive wife wouldn't have been believed.

to:

* TheSociopath: Christine poses as one, manipulating two men to do her bidding (marrying her and attacking an ex), lying without any effort, and having no empathy at all for Leonard. But it's Leonard who's the true sociopath. He's an admitted drifter who befriended a lonely widow for amusement, and then let her make him a pet when he learned of her vast wealth, in hopes of funding his {{Homemade Invention|s}}. Shortly thereafter he got her to put him in her will and then murdered her. Up until the end he plays the role of desperate innocent without fault. When Sir Wilfred Wilfrid expresses his horror and outrage at having acquitted such a scoundrel, Leonard casually brushes it off and offers to cover him in gold. He's similarly guilt-free when he reveals that he's abandoned Christine for a woman he ran into outside a travel agency, even though he relied on her unquestioning love to perjure herself for him. No wonder she stabs him.
* TheStoic: Christine appears to be unaffected by ''anything''--when she learns of Leonard's arrest, she's so calm that Sir Wilfred Wilfrid decides he does not want her near the stand at all. And when she's pulled from an angry mob after the trial, her only complaint is that they laddered her last pair of stockings.
* SurpriseWitness: Christine twice over, once when she's unexpectedly called by the prosecution, and once when Sir Wilfred Wilfrid recalls her.
* TimePassesMontage: Marked by the number of Sir Wilfred's Wilfrid's pills (taken on the hour) that remain.
* TitleDrop: At the end, when Christine reveals to Sir Wilfred Wilfrid that she wanted to be a witness for the prosecution, because a supportive wife wouldn't have been believed.



* WigDressAccent: Christine's Cockney disguise. Sir Wilfred doesn't realize it until Christine gives him an encore after the trial.
* WhamLine: "No, Sir Wilfred, you do not understand at all. I knew [Leonard] was guilty."
* WhatTheHellIsThatAccent: The woman who sells new evidence to Sir Wilfred is making a truly ''atrocious'' attempt at a Cockney accent.
* WorthyOpponent: Mr. Meyers has a good deal of professional respect for Sir Wilfred and even makes a wager with him on the outcome of the trial.

to:

* WigDressAccent: Christine's Cockney disguise. Sir Wilfred Wilfrid doesn't realize it until Christine gives him an encore after the trial.
* WhamLine: "No, Sir Wilfred, Wilfrid, you do not understand at all. I knew [Leonard] was guilty."
* WhatTheHellIsThatAccent: The woman who sells new evidence to Sir Wilfred Wilfrid is making a truly ''atrocious'' attempt at a Cockney accent.
* WorthyOpponent: Mr. Meyers has a good deal of professional respect for Sir Wilfred Wilfrid and even makes a wager with him on the outcome of the trial.
22nd Aug '15 6:39:07 PM eowynjedi
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Added DiffLines:

* NoExceptYes: When Sir Wilfred accuses Mrs. [=McKenzie=] of being antagonistic towards Leonard from the start, she denies it--then calls him a shiftless, scheming scoundrel, but she's ''not'' "antag'nistic".
6th Apr '15 9:28:29 PM KamenRiderOokalf
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-->"With all the rubbish being talked about these days you're not missing much."

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-->"With --->"With all the rubbish being talked about these days you're not missing much."
24th Feb '15 1:05:33 PM eowynjedi
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* ChekhovsGunman: The emotional young woman sitting behind Mrs. Plimsoll in court. She's Leonard's lover.

to:

* ChekhovsGunman: The emotional young woman sitting behind Mrs. Plimsoll in court. She's court is Leonard's lover.lover.
* CitizenshipMarriage: Testifying for the prosecution, Christine claims this as her only motive for marrying Leonard, and that she was already married to a man in Germany. While the marriage ''did'' get her to England, she does genuinely love him.



* HomemadeInventions: Leonard's combination eggbeater-and-separator. He's having trouble funding it and hoped Mrs. French would give him the financial backing he needed.



* ItAmusedMe: Leonard meets Mrs. French by shaking his head and nodding when he sees her trying on hats inside a shop, just for grins. (He thought both hats were ugly.) They only meet again by chance in a theater.



* OldRetainer: Mrs. [=McKenzie=] was Mrs. French's housekeeper of ten years who was included in Mrs. French's will. She disliked Leonard from the start, and Wilfred paints her as being biased because she was cut out of said will in favor of Leonard.

to:

* OldRetainer: Mrs. [=McKenzie=] was Mrs. French's housekeeper of ten years who was included in Mrs. French's will. years. She disliked Leonard from the start, and Wilfred paints her as being biased because she was cut out of said Mrs. French's will in favor of Leonard.


Added DiffLines:

* TheSociopath: Christine poses as one, manipulating two men to do her bidding (marrying her and attacking an ex), lying without any effort, and having no empathy at all for Leonard. But it's Leonard who's the true sociopath. He's an admitted drifter who befriended a lonely widow for amusement, and then let her make him a pet when he learned of her vast wealth, in hopes of funding his {{Homemade Invention|s}}. Shortly thereafter he got her to put him in her will and then murdered her. Up until the end he plays the role of desperate innocent without fault. When Sir Wilfred expresses his horror and outrage at having acquitted such a scoundrel, Leonard casually brushes it off and offers to cover him in gold. He's similarly guilt-free when he reveals that he's abandoned Christine for a woman he ran into outside a travel agency, even though he relied on her unquestioning love to perjure herself for him. No wonder she stabs him.


Added DiffLines:

* UndyingLoyalty: Christine doesn't care that Leonard murdered someone in cold blood; she'll do anything for him because she loves him. When he betrays her, though....
23rd Feb '15 8:56:40 PM eowynjedi
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* InsistentTerminology: When someone exclaims that Christine killed Leonard, Sir Wilfred rephrases it: "She ''executed'' him."



* LiteralMetaphor: When Leonard describes his first meeting with Christine, he says "the roof fell in on me." In the ensuing flashback, he certainly seems [[LoveAtFirstSight smitten from the get-go]]... and then he accidentally knocks over the chair holding up the ceiling in Christine's apartment, causing the roof to actually fall in on him.



* OldRetainer: Mrs. [=McKenzie=] was Mrs. French's housekeeper of ten years.
* [[ScaryShinyGlasses Scary Shiny Monocle]]: Sir Wilfred shines the light from his monocle into Leonard's eyes when he first interviews him as a client and later does it to Christine.

to:

* NotSoStoic: Christine's calm breaks only twice. First is when the letters from Max are revealed and show her testimony against Leonard as a lie, and she shrieks "''DAMN YOU!''" across the courtroom. But this was an act. The second time is when Leonard callously dumps her for a girl he met shortly before the murder, and it's genuine--she's shattered by the betrayal, and then she murders him.
* OldRetainer: Mrs. [=McKenzie=] was Mrs. French's housekeeper of ten years.
years who was included in Mrs. French's will. She disliked Leonard from the start, and Wilfred paints her as being biased because she was cut out of said will in favor of Leonard.
* [[ScaryShinyGlasses Scary Shiny Monocle]]: Sir Wilfred shines uses this to test potential clients for their honesty. Leonard passes, but Christine cuts it short by closing the light from his monocle into Leonard's blinds to stop him reflecting it in her eyes when he first interviews him as a client and later does (a failure). In the end, it proves to Christine.be an unreliable gauge of their characters.



* TheStoic: Christine appears to be unaffected by ''anything''--when she learns of Leonard's arrest, she's so calm that Sir Wilfred decides he does not want her near the stand at all. And when she's pulled from an angry mob after the trial, her only complaint is that they laddered her last pair of stockings.



* WigDressAccent: Christine's Cockney disguise.

to:

* WigDressAccent: Christine's Cockney disguise. Sir Wilfred doesn't realize it until Christine gives him an encore after the trial.
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