Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nazi Week: Judgment at Nuremberg

Howdy und Willkommen to Day 3 of Nazi Week.  Keep in mind for those that may be confused that this is not a pro Nazi week but out and out bashing of the villainous Schweine and alas Doctor Jones will not be administering any beatings their way but such is life as they say.   Today I take you into 1948, with most of the war criminals been put to justice, 4 judges are being held accountable for the crimes of allowing their offices to conduct Nazi sterilization and cleansing policies.   So off the bat you should realize this will not be a comedy.  So have your statement ready for the court, plea your case and May God have mercy on your soul.  This is Judgment at Nuremberg.

Well we better take off so Tracy can do his miming in peace.

Spoilers must forget if we want to go on living.

From the works of legendary director Stanley Kramer (Inherit the Wind, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Bless the Beasts & Children and The Domino Principle) comes this film of heart wrenching subject, cynicism and light occasional humor.   Retired American judge Day Haywood (Spencer Tracy of Me and My Gal, Face in the Sky, Adam’s Rib, Father of the Bride, Inherit the Wind, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) has the daunting task of overseeing the trial of four German judges  that served before and during the Nazi regime who either through some passive aggressive standing or embracing these ideals which lead to the judicial acts of imprisonment, executions of men and women for their  religion or racial background, sexual sterilizations and removing the sick and the lame from society.  Judge Haywood’s personal liaison between the Military tribune Captain Byers (William Shatner of The Defenders, For the People, Star Trek, Incubus, The Horror at 37,000 Feet and Malice) follows his West Point training and protocol but Haywood is trying to get the lad to loosen up given the undertaking they have ahead of them.

Bet he's a sour Kraut.

Three of the 4 men on trial are just thugs in my opinion with the exception of Judge Janning (Burt Lancaster of of Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, The Devil’s Disciple, Elmer Gantry, The Train, Birdman of Alacatraz, From Here to Eternity and Airport) spends most of his time throughout the trial holding his head down in what can only be constituted as shame.  Defending these men is attorney Hans Rolfe (Maximilian Schell of First Love, The Rehearsal, Cross of Iron, A Bridge Too Far, The Black Hole and Deep Impact)  who within his abilities tries his level best to point out how the law was being handled and prove that crimes happened and the justice was being dealt.   During the breaks between the trial Haywood shares his temporary living space with a lovely widower of a Nazi General, Mrs. Bertholt (Marlene Deitrich of The Blue Angel, Destry Rides Again, Manpower, Kismet, A Foreign Affair and Touch of Evil)

I have just a few comments to be made about the film.  It is not just merely these men on trial as it was the German people that obeyed orders and followed these barbaric rules of conduct that was not fit for one human being to another.  Fear, cowardice and blind patriotism brought about this dark era in Germany’s history.  Haywood walks around the town to the auditorium hearing echoes of the infamous speeches held in such rallies wondering how the German people cope with this horror in their own time and how they can simply be of the mindset to sweep this under the rug and move on.   The courtroom drama seems to envelop all aspects to this timeline with social commentary, upheaval, lack of morality and common decency.  

The Lady and the Tracy.

It is truly a film you must watch from start to finish in order to fully appreciate the impact it has.  You will feel humor, numbness and a sense of utter shock from how something of this magnitude could occur and the repercussions still to this day.  35 mm Spherical captures this story with relative ease as it is the cast that takes you through these days time’s past.  Judy Garland’s performance alone will move you to tears. Several key areas of this film were shot in Nuremberg 20 years afterwards and still so much rubble.  Makes you think.