Judgment At Nuremberg Stanley Kramer

One of the most renowned courtroom dramas of all time, Judgment At Nuremberg finally sees its digital debut. Released 43 years ago, Nuremberg dramatises the 1948-'49 war trial of judges who served the Nazis — esteemed men who forced innocent people to be sterilised and passed death sentences against Jews and other "undesirables." We see the film through the eyes of American judge Dan Haywood. As the moral compass of the film, Haywood is commandingly portrayed by Spencer Tracy and is part of the stellar cast. Prosecuting for the Allies is Col. Tad Lawson (Richard Widmark) and defending the accused is Hans Rolfe, played by a fiery Maximilian Schell, who deserved an Oscar for his performance. Burt Lancaster is the key Nazi judge, Marlene Dietrich plays Haywood's love interest and Judy Garland portrays a German woman once imprisoned for flirting with a Jewish man. However, Montgomery Clift nearly steals the film, playing a mentally retarded man testifying that he and his mother were sterilised. At 186 minutes the movie is full of high drama but also tedium. The film loses steam whenever we leave the courtroom and follow Haywood in his off-hours, and the Dietrich subplot is unnecessary. The film returns to life in the passionate exchanges between Tracy and Schell. Abby Mann's script rings true all these years later, particularly in Tracy's famous "value of a single human being" speech. Though melodramatic at times, Judgment At Nuremberg has a conscience and a heart, and remains a compelling drama and wholly relevant in a world that includes Slobodan Milosovic, Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush. The special features on this disc are disappointing though. Abby Mann's contemporary interview with Schell and the tribute to Stanley Kramer are "nice" but reveal little of the making of the film. What's sorely lacking is a historical perspective of the war trials that a mini-documentary, or a commentary by Mann and Schell, could have easily fulfilled. (MGM)