“Lili Marleen” sung at the beer hall, the old blind guy, possibly a WWI or WWII veteran who had “seen it all.”
Richard Widmark, always a tough guy, as one of his toughest.
Maximillian Schell’s badgering of Judy Garland concerning the “Felderstein case.”
Burt Lancaster’s speech.
And, the pathos of Montgomery Clift’s testimony. The story goes that his addled brain could not remember his lines, and that Spencer Tracy (or some other set “elder”) just told him, “You know what happened to the character. . . just try to ad lib it.”
Today the Holocaust images of the piles of stiff naked skeletal bodies being pushed by bulldozers and the living skeletons with dead eyes looking with near disinterest at the cameras and other black and white images are almost a “yawn, seen it, something new please”. They’ve been shown on TV and in books so much that they lack any horror for the most part, plus they aren’t nearly as gory as what we see in movies and there’s some kind of disconnect as well that “one filmed image of atrocities looks pretty much like another real or fictional” that distances the horror from us.
It’s hard to imagine that when this movie was released, for many people this was their first unedited look at Holocaust footage. I almost wish I could have that feeling when I see the images and that it wasn’t just another bead in the video rosary we recite until its formulaic. And for those who went to the theater expecting Mickey Rooney to pop in and tell Judy “We can put on a show right here in this old Palace of Justice!” it must have been especially jarring.
Agreed that Judy was great, as was Montgomery Clift (not surprisingly) and of course Lancaster knocked it out of the park. I think it was fantastic that they let the most ethical character in the movie (prior to the war at least) be the one who had done the greatest harm, and that his speech invoked the circumstances of Nazism’s rise from the perspective of somebody who wasn’t evil or even Nazi. His comment about “blood sacrifice” necessary to restore a nation was chilling. I also loved his exchange with Tracy at the end.
Klemperer was also good in the movie as the sleazy judge who was a die hard Nazi and who Lancaster essentially tells to fook himself. I loved that to Lancaster’s character imprisonment and disgrace wasn’t as bad as having to be counted in the same category as Klemperer’s character (sorry for using the actors but I can’t remember the character names).
This was also the movie wasn’t it where the Nazi NCO answers the rhetorical “how would it even be possible to kill and burn that many people?” by one of the judges with a completely know-it-all but dispassionate- like a guy in a bar giving his opinion on the New York Giants game on TV- “yeah, it’s possible, kinda hard but you can do it…” spiel about getting rid of bodies being the hardest part, isn’t it? If so, also a great scene.
The TNT series NUREMBERG about the earlier and more famous trials also had some great moments, but especially Brian Cox (who is a near god in my estimation anyway) as Göring. Unfortunately for some bizarre reason a movie about the most important war crimes trial in history with some of the most fascinating characters in history wasn’t enough for TNT as they felt that a mostly fictitious sideplot about Justice Jackson (Alec Baldwin) falling into an extramarital affair was more important than developing the characters less well known than Göring.
This last showing was only the second time I’d seen it. The first time, I tuned in while flipping channels. I knew instantly what movie it was because I’d heard of it in connection with Spencer tracy. But that’s all I knew. So I was constantly surprised at each new character stepped up. “Hey, it’s Klink! and he’s EVIL!” “Hey, it’s Maximillian! And he’s chewing the scenery!” “Hey! it’s Shatner! And he’s still sort of smarmy even with just a few lines.” But I didn’t recognize Lancaster until the presenter talked about him after the flick.
Yes, the scene is in the film, during a mealtime with the prisoners. The judges are sitting together and one of them – I don’t think it was Klemperer’s character (Emil Hahn), but rather Werner Lempe (the bald guy who’s unable to speak after the verdict) who asked the question of another prisoner at a different table. “They say we murdered millions of people – ‘millions of people’! How is this possible?” The other prisoner takes a minute to chew his food and then kinda shrugs. “It’s possible. Here’s how. You get __ people in a chamber…” His casual, Monday-morning quarterback recital makes it especially creepy, as Sampiro says.
Oops sorry, that’s my sports fail coming to the fore. I thought the term referred to someone discussing the game after it was over. So rather a “Monday morning quarterback” is more akin to a backseat driver?
But yeah, the prisoner who was discussing this stuff was in charge of things. Lempe, or whichever judge it was, says something like, “You ran the concentration camps, you and Eichmann. How could these numbers be possible?”