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Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

aka Judgment at Nuremberg

"The event the world will never forget."

Directed By: 
Written By: 
Details: 186 mins · English


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Small Chief Judge Dan Haywood
Small Dr. Ernst Janning
Small Col. Tad Lawson
Small Mrs. Bertholt
Small Hans Rolfe
Small Mrs. Irene Hoffman Wallner
Small Rudolph Petersen
Small Sen. Burkette
Small Emil Hahn
No_movie_poster Werner Lampe
No_movie_poster Friedrich Hofstetter
Small Capt. Harrison Byers
Small Judge Kenneth Norris
Small Brig. Gen. Matt Merrin
No_movie_poster Dr. Karl Wieck
No_movie_poster Dr. Heinrich Geuter
No_movie_poster Hugo Wallner


Small Stanley Kramer Director
No_movie_poster Rudolph Sternad Production Design
No_movie_poster George Milo Set Decoration
No_movie_poster Ernest Laszlo Director of Photography
No_movie_poster Robert J. Schiffer Makeup Artist
No_movie_poster Abby Mann Screenplay
No_movie_poster Philip Langner Producer
No_movie_poster Ernest Gold Original Music Composer
No_movie_poster Frederic Knudtson Editor
No_movie_poster James Lister Casting
No_movie_poster Jean Louis Costume Design
No_movie_poster Jean L. Speak Sound Designer
Small Stanley Kramer Production
No_movie_poster Frederic Knudtson Editing


"The event the world will never forget."

"Once in a generation...a motion picture explodes into greatness!"


Judgment at Nuremberg centers on a military tribunal held in Nuremberg, Germany, in which four judges are accused of crimes against humanity for their actions during the Nazi regime. Judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) is the Chief Trial Judge of a three-judge panel that will both hear and then decide the case against the defendants. Haywood begins his examinations by attempting to understand how defendant Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster) could have passed sentences resulting in genocide. Janning, it is revealed, is a well educated and internationally respected jurist and legal scholar. By extension, Haywood is also deeply curious to understand how the German people could have turned blind eyes and deaf ears to the Holocaust. In doing so, he befriends the widow (Marlene Dietrich) of a German general executed by the Allies. He talks with a number of Germans with different perspectives on the war. Other characters the Judge meets are U.S. Army Captain Byers (William Shatner), who is assigned to the American party hearing the cases, and Irene Hoffman (Judy Garland), who is afraid to bring testimony that may turn the case against the judges in favor of the prosecution.

The film examines the questions of individual complicity in crimes committed by their states. For example, defense attorney Hans Rolfe (Maximilian Schell) raises such issues as the support of U.S. Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. for eugenics practices (see Buck v. Bell), the Hitler-Vatican Reichskonkordat in 1933, the Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939 that allowed Hitler to start World War II, Winston Churchill's praise for Adolf Hitler and the U.S.'s atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the end, Janning makes a statement condemning himself and his fellow defendants for "going along" with the Third Reich; all four are found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

The film is notable for its use of courtroom drama to directly confront individual perfidy, social upheaval and amorality; in addition, it is one of the first few films that does not shy from showing actual footage filmed by American and British soldiers after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Shown in court by prosecuting attorney Colonel Tad Lawson (Richard Widmark), the footage of huge piles of naked corpses laid out in rows and bulldozed into large pits was exceptionally gruesome for a mainstream film of its day.

The film ends with Haywood having to choose between patriotism and justice, and he rejects the call to let the Nazi judges off lightly to gain Germany's support in the Cold War against the Soviet Union. At the end of the film Janning concedes to Judge Haywood that his ruling was the right and just decision, but also appeals to the Judge that he, and all of the other judges, did not know their actions would come to such a horrifying conclusion. Judge Haywood refutes him, saying "Herr Janning, it came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent"

Release Dates:

DVD : 2004-09-07