By Debbie Elicksen.
Stanley Kramer directed and produced the 1961 black and white masterpiece Judgment at Nuremburg. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, but it was Maximilian Schell who won Best Actor and Abby Man who won Best Adapted Screenplay.
The era is post war-torn Germany in 1948. Based on Abby Mann’s 1959 play Judgment at Nuremburg, the film is about the preparations surrounding the trial of four German judges who signed the orders to prosecute and send people to death camps. Spencer Tracy is Judge Dan Haywood, one of the men deciding the outcome of the tribunal. Maximilian Schell is the brilliant defense attorney Hans Rolfe, who steps up when Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster) becomes uncooperative. The star-studded cast also includes Marlene Dietrictch, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift, William Shatner, and Richard Widemark.
There is a moment that brings the movie home, besides when Rolfe addresses the court. Judge Haywood is at the kitchen table with the caretakers of the house he is staying at and asks them to explain what it was like for them under Nazi rule.
It is an outstanding film, even though the old technology, such as scenery moving to simulate driving, looks a bit lame by today’s standards. It is definitely five stars out of five.