54 – Judgment at Nuremberg

Welcome to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen! This is the part of the blog where I work my way through 100 films I’ve never seen that are generally considered to be great. You’re invited to watch along with me if you can find a copy or find it streaming. So grab some popcorn and let’s get started!

Judgment at Nuremberg

1961

Directed by Stanley Kramer

Quick synopsis… This Academy Award-winning film by Stanley Kramer stars Spencer Tracy as American judge Dan Haywood, who’s chosen to guide a 1948 tribunal that’s trying Germans suspected of engaging in atrocities during World War II. Against the backdrop of the Cold War, Haywood must obtain justice in a case with raised stakes and mixed emotions. Maximilian Schell co-stars in an Oscar-lauded performance as defense counsel for the Nazi prisoners.

Finally! Back to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen and I’ve gotten my hands on a DVD copy of Judgment at Nuremberg. It’s been more than two months since the last time I sat down to watch a movie on this list because I have been unable to find this one anywhere. Not sure why it took me so long to give the local library a try. That should have been my first option when I couldn’t find it streaming anywhere.

So… Now that I’ve seen it, was it worth the wait?

Probably not… But that’s because I’m a generally impatient person. But that has no bearing on the quality of this film. Which is excellent, by the way.

Judgement at Nuremberg tells the story of a military tribunal led by Judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) as they try four German judges and prosecutors who have been accused of crimes against humanity for the parts they played under the Nazi regime. One of the accused, Dr. Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster), stands out as someone that Judge Haywood has a difficult time believing would choose to fall in line with Hitler’s ideals, particularly after reading some of the things he wrote regarding German law in the days following the first World War.

In fact, much of what Haywood explores, both in and out of the courtroom is his attempt to understand how a dictator like Adolf Hitler could rise to power as quickly and as totally as he did while also gaining an understanding of how the Nazi regime affected every day German individuals. Could the subject matter of this film be more timely in this day and age?

The movie is nearly three hours long and is worth every second. The acting is incredible, especially the performance of Maximillian Schell as defense counsel Hans Rolfe. This is an actor that I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever seen as Tea Leoni’s dad in Deep Impact. Here he is very young and convincingly portrays an impassioned attorney who is doing what he can to defend Dr. Janning.

Considering the subject matter, much of what is scene on screen is heartbreaking, but is delivered in powerful dialogue spoken by incredible actors. If you have a chance to find this movie, I highly recommend a watch.

Having now seen Judgment at Nuremberg, it stands at number 120 out of 2,284 movies seen on my personal Flickchart.

Have you seen Judgment at Nuremberg? What did you think of this courtroom epic? Be sure to share your thoughts down in the comments!

6 thoughts on “54 – Judgment at Nuremberg

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