Film / Judgment at Nuremberg

Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 Courtroom Drama that's Based on a True Story, directed by Stanley Kramer, and with an All-Star Cast featuring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift, and Judy Garland.

The movie focuses on the Nuremberg trials that took place after World War II, specifically on when a panel of three U.S. judges, led by Chief Judge Dan Haywood (Tracy), must decide the fate of three German judges - among them Ernst Janning (Lancaster) - who are accused of collaborating with the Nazis.

This film contains examples of:

  • Big "Shut Up!": Janning does this to Rolfe as he's badgering Irene Hoffman on the stand.
  • Hanging Judge: Janning plays with this.
  • Heroic BSOD: Col. Lawson, after Rolfe destroys Rudolph Peterson on the stand.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Leads to a Not So Different argument, and Janning's Heel Realization.
  • Nazi Nobleman: Mrs. Bertholt describes her late husband as this.
  • Not So Different: This is part of Rolfe's argument when trying to defend his clients on the charges of their authorizing eugenic sterilization, asking one of the accused if he can identify a judicial opinion upholding a law allowing this before he reveals it was handed down by the US Supreme Court (this was Truth in Television, unfortunately).
    • There is a point about the "My Country, Right or Wrong" philosophy which is believed by staunch Patriots, both German and American.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Rolfe tries to argue the German judges, especially Janning, were this. Naturally, Lawson doesn't agree.
  • Translation Convention: All of the German characters speak German at the beginning of the trial, with translation provided (and the judges and attorneys wearing headsets), until Kramer cuts to a close-up of Rolfe speaking. As he pulls back the camera, Rolfe starts speaking English, and from then on, so do the other German characters.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Well, there were war crimes trials at Nuremberg, including one for judges, but every character and all the stories in this film are fictional. Ernst Janning is a composite of three different judges who were tried. Also, the real Judges' Trial took place in 1947, but the film moves it to 1948 so that it can happen against the backdrop of the communist coup in Czechoslovakia and the Berlin Blockade.