Witness for the Prosecution (1957) Script

Silence. Be upstanding in court.

All persons who have anything to do before my lords, the queen's justices of oyer and terminer and general jail delivery for the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court draw near and give your attendance. God save the queen.


What a beautiful day. I've been hoping for a bit of sun for our homecoming.

It's worth having the fog just to appreciate the sunshine. Is there a draught?

Shall I roll up the window? Roll up your mouth. You talk too much.

If I'd known how much you talked I'd never have come out of my coma.

This thing weighs a ton. Now, now.

We've been flat on our back for two months, we'd better be careful.

Lovely, lovely. It must be perfectly lovely to live and work in the Inns of Court.

How lucky you lawyers are.

I almost married a lawyer. I was in attendance for his appendectomy and we became engaged as soon as he could sit up.

And then peritonitis set in and he went like that.

He certainly was a lucky lawyer.

Teeny-weeny steps, now. Remember we had a teeny-weeny heart attack.

Oh, shut up!

Williams, my cane.

Here he comes!

Good afternoon. Thank you very much. Everybody back to work.

Sir Wilfrid, if you don't mind, I'd like to read you a poem to welcome you back.

Very touching. You can recite it after office hours in your own time.

Now back to work. What's the matter with you?

Nothing. I'm just happy that you're your old self again.

Any more sentimentality around here, I shall go back to the hospital!

They won't take him back. He wasn't really discharged, you know, he was expelled for conduct unbecoming a cardiac patient.

Put these in water, blabbermouth! Come on in, Carter.

Look at this room. It's ugly, old and musty.

But I never knew I could miss anything so much.

Missed you too, you musty old buzzard. Oh, thank you, sir.

I'm not a religious man, but when they carted you off, I went out and lit a candle.

Why, thank you, Carter. Actually, sir, I was lighting it for myself.

If anything happened to you, what would happen to me, after 37 years?

37 years! Has it been all that long?

Yes, sir. This is 1952, that was in October 1915. The Shepherd's Bush murder.

The chemist accused of putting cyanide in his uncle's toothpaste.

My first murder trial. I was more frightened than the defendant.

First time I rose to make an objection, my wig fell off. Where's my wig?

Right here.

I've guarded it with me life. I hope it still fits.

I lost 30lbs in that wretched hospital.

Still, I suppose my head isn't any smaller.

What's all this?

We've put it in mothballs. Mothballs? Am I not to practise again?

Of course. The solicitors have been breaking down our doors.

I've got some interesting briefs for you. That's better.

Divorce case, a tax appeal, and an important marine insurance claim.

Nice smooth matters with excellent fees. No, Carter.

I'm sorry, but you're not to undertake any criminal cases. Your doctors have...

Doctors! They've deprived me of alcohol, tobacco, female companionship.

If only they'd let me do something worthwhile!

Sorry, sir.

Might as well get a bigger box, more mothballs, put me away too.

2:30, Sir Wilfrid. Time for our little nap! Oh, get out!

Beddy-bye. We'd better go upstairs now, get undressed and lie down.

We? What a nauseating prospect. Upstairs, please.

Are you aware that, while on my sickbed, I seriously considered strangling you with one of your own rubber tubes.

I would then have admitted the crime, retained myself for the defence.

My lord, members of the jury, I hereby enter a plea of justifiable homicide.

For four months this alleged angel of mercy has pored, probed, punctured, pillaged and plundered my helpless body while tormenting my mind with a steady drip of baby talk.

Come along now, like a good boy. Oh, no.

Take your hands off me, or I'll strike you with my cane.

You wouldn't, it might break your cigars. What cigars?

The ones you're smuggling in your cane. Cane?

You could be jailed for this. You had no search warrant.

In hospital he'd hide cigars and brandy all over the place.

We called him Wilfrid the fox.

I'm confiscating these. Can't I have just one?

No. Upstairs.

A few puffs after meals? Please.

I'll do it. Some dark night when her back is turned, I'll snatch her thermometer and plunge it between her shoulder blades. So help me, I will.

Oh, no, sir. You mustn't walk up. We've installed something for you here. It's a lift.

A lift? I'm sick of this plot to make me a helpless invalid.

I think it's a splendid idea. Let's try it, shall we?

Out of there. I'll try it. It's my lift because it was my heart attack.

Here you are. Simply press this button for up and this one for down.

Carter, I warn you, if this contraption should collapse, if the barrister should fall off the bannister...

Remarkable. Smoothest flight I've had in years.

Upsy-daisy! Once more to get the feel of the controls.

Good afternoon. Is it possible to see Sir Wilfrid?

I didn't make an appointment, but this is urgent.

If it's about a brief, I'm sorry, but we're full. Sir Wilfrid has all that he can handle.

I'm sure he'll want this brief.

Serious criminal matter.

Absolutely not, Mr Mayhew. Sir Wilfrid is still convalescent.

He can't accept anything of an overstimulating nature.

Put me on a diet of bland civil suits. Hello, Mayhew.

Hello. Distressing news about your health.

It's tragic. You'd better get a man with younger arteries.

If you could just give us a few minutes. This is Mr Leonard Vole.

He's in rather a ghastly mess, I'm afraid. How do you do, Mr Vole?

Well, according to Mr Mayhew, I'm not doing at all well.

Sir Wilfrid! Sir Wilfrid!

You're dawdling again! Oh, shut up!

Sorry, Mayhew. Try me again when you've something not too stimulating.

Like a postman bitten by a stray dog.

I wish you could help us, Wilfrid, but I quite understand. Take care of yourself.

Mayhew! Mayhew!

Oh, no. Sir Wilfrid, please.

Don't worry, we won't take the brief, but an old friend needs help.

Surely I can give him a word of advice.

Come on, I'll give you five minutes. No, no, I don't want you, just Mayhew.

Our nap! Sir Wilfrid! Our nap!

You go ahead. Start it without me.

This is your fault. You should not have permitted it.

It is not my fault. I distinctly told Sir Wilfrid no criminal cases.

Well, if it's anyone's fault, I expect it's mine.

Seems silly to me, but Mr Mayhew thinks it's very urgent.

He thinks I may be arrested any minute. Arrested for what?

Well, for murder.

Oh!

It's the case of Emily French. You've probably seen reports in the press.

Middle-aged widow, well-off, living with a housekeeper at Hampstead.

Mr Vole had been with her earlier.

When the housekeeper returned, she found her dead, struck on the back of the head and killed.

Vole seems caught in a web of circumstantial evidence.

Perhaps if I gave you the details you'd suggest the strongest line of defence.

I'd probably think better with a cigar. Of course.

No previous convictions. He's of good character with an excellent war record.

You'd like him a lot. They've confiscated the matches. A light.

The defence may tum on establishing an alibi for the night of the murder.

I haven't got any. Let me get you some. Lord, no! You don't know Miss Plimsoll.

This will take all our cunning.

Young man!

Come here, please.

Your solicitor and I feel you may be able to enlighten me on an important point.

Yes. Thank you. Sir Wilfrid!

You're not in bed yet? Upstairs!

Give me a match. Sorry, I never carry them.

What? You said I'd like him. But I do have a lighter.

You're quite right, Mayhew, I do like him. Thank you.

Can you imagine Miss Plimsoll's face if she saw me now?

Then let's make absolutely sure that she doesn't.

Splendid. All the instincts of a skilled criminal.

Thank you, sir. Here.

Whether or not you murdered a middle-aged widow, you certainly saved the life of an elderly barrister.

I haven't murdered anybody. It's absurd.

Christine, that's my wife, she thought I may be implicated and needed a lawyer.

That's why I went to see Mr Mayhew. Now he thinks he needs a lawyer and now I have two lawyers. It's rather silly.

I am a solicitor. Sir Wilfrid is a barrister.

Only a barrister can actually plead a case in court.

Oh, I see. She shall not even find the ashes.

Sit down. Thank you.

I saw in the paper that Mrs French had been found dead with her head bashed in.

It also said the police were anxious to interview me since I visited that evening.

Naturally, I went to the police station. Did they caution you?

I don't quite know. They asked if I'd like to make a statement and said they'd write it down and it might be used against me. Is that a caution?

Well, it can't be helped now.

They seemed quite satisfied. They seemed satisfied, Mr Vole.

He thinks that he made a statement and that's the end of it. Isn't it obvious that you will be regarded as the principal suspect? I'm afraid you'll be arrested.

I've done nothing! Why should I be arrested?

This is England! You don't get arrested or convicted for crimes you haven't done.

We try not to make a habit of it.

But it does happen, though, doesn't it?

Of course. There was that case of that fellow, whatshisname, Adolph Beck.

In jail for years and they suddenly found it was another chap.

He'd been innocent! Unfortunate, but restitution was made.

He received a pardon, a bounty from the crown, and was restored to normal life.

That's all right for him. What if it had been murder? What if he'd hanged?

How would they have restored him to his normal life then?

Mr Vole, you must not take such a morbid point of view.

It's just when you say these things are closing in on me, it's like a nightmare.

Relax. You're in the hands of the finest, most experienced barrister in London.

Let's get this straight. I may have done something highly unethical.

I've taken your cigar but I'm not taking your case. I can't.

I'm forbidden. My doctors would never allow it. I'm truly sorry, young man.

But if you'd like the case handled by these chambers, I'd recommend Mr Brogan-Moore. Yes. A very able man.

I second Sir Wilfrid's recommendation. All right, sir, if you say so.

Hold this.

Carter?

I would like to see Brogan-Moore here as soon as he comes in from court.

Sir Wilfrid, I have never known such insubordination.

Not even as a nurse during the war.

What war was that? The Crimean War, no doubt.

You'll like Brogan-Moore, he's had excellent training. Under me.

This morning I had no lawyers at all and now suddenly I have three.

We should explain that I have very little money.

I shan't be able to pay all the costs and fees.

We'll get a fourth lawyer to sue you.

He won't get very much. I haven't had a job in four months.

What sort of work do you do? Well, uh...

My last job was as a mechanic. The foreman kept riding me all the time.

I took it as long as I could, then I quit. And before that?

I worked in a department store, in toys, demonstrating children's building sets.

Of course, it lasted only during Christmas. Before that I tested electric blankets.

Electric blankets? I suppose you think I'm a bit of a drifter.

It's true, in a way, but I'm really not like that.

My army service unsettled me. That and living abroad. I was stationed in Germany.

It was fine there, though. That's where I met my wife.

She was an actress, and a good one. She's a wonderful wife to me, too.

But I haven't been much of a provider, I'm afraid.

Somehow, I just don't seem able to settle down now I've come back to this country.

If I could just put my eggbeater across. Eggbeater?

Yes, sir. I, uh, I'm a bit of an inventor. Nothing big, just little household things.

Pocket pencil sharpeners, key chain flashlights.

But my best is really this eggbeater.

It not only beats, it also separates the yolk from the white.

Is that really desirable?

If you were a housewife, you'd see it right away.

The trouble is, I need money for manufacturing and promotion.

I was really hoping that's what Mrs French might do for me after I met her.

Exactly how did you meet Mrs French? That's rather funny in itself.

It was 3 September. I remember because it's my wife's birthday.

I was window-shopping in Oxford Street, daydreaming about what I'd buy for her, if I had any money.


You really like this one? Very much.

You don't think it's too mad? Mad?

Not at all. Daring, perhaps. I wouldn't recommend it to every woman. But you?

Why shouldn't you attract attention? You think so?

Absolutely. But if I could suggest one little thing.

Perhaps we could tip it and bring it back a bit like that. Show more of your face.

My bus. Goodbye. Good...

You buy that hat. I insist.

Actually, it was a ridiculous sort of hat- a silly thing with ribbons and flowers.

I'm constantly surprised that women's hats do not provoke more murders.

Go on, please.

I was only trying to be nice to make her feel good.

I never dreamed I'd see her again. Or the hat.

But you did? Yes, a few weeks later.

Again, by accident. I was peddling my eggbeaters and business was a little slow.


Would you mind, madam? Your hat.

Oh, it's you! Hello!

It's your fault, you know. You chose it yourself.

May I? Sure, if you like.

Thank you. It's such a bother taking it off and putting it back on again.

That chap is Jesse James. They've led him into an ambush. It's not at all cricket.

Don't worry, he shoots his way out. He does?

I've seen it. I got to the movies a lot. You do?

I get restless so I go out. Then I find I've no place to go so I go to the movies.

Sometimes I see the same one two or three times. Ooh.

Toffee? Oh, yes, please.

At this time you had no idea that Mrs French was well-off?

No. Absolutely not. We were sitting in the cheap seats.

All I knew was she seemed to be very lonely, had no friends whatsoever.

She and her husband lived abroad in British Nigeria.

He was in the colonial service. He died in '45, of a heart attack.

Please, Mayhew, not when I'm smoking. Go on, young man.

Well, they finally polished off Jesse James, and after we left the movie she invited me to her house for tea.

I think it's the most fascinating thing I've ever seen. Janet, come and look.

I've seen eggbeaters before, ma'am.

But this beats so quickly and it separates too!

It must be cen-trifugal or centrifugal, which is it?

It's specific gravity, but it whips cream too.

Did you hear that, Janet? It whips cream too.

We must have one. Is it expensive?

Compliments of the inventor, manufacturer and sole distributor.

Thank you. We'll use it constantly, won't we, Janet?

Come, we'd better get out of here. Janet doesn't like visitors in her kitchen.

Ha!

It's a bit chilly in here, isn't it? Shall we have a fire?

Why not?

This is a charming room.

Hubert and I collected all these things when we lived in Africa.

Hubert was my husband.

Well, now, there's a loveable chap.

That's the mask of the witch doctor.

He wore it when he pulled our servants' teeth.

So Hubert used to call him a witch dentist.

Hubert was so witty. Yes, I can see that.

Oh, here's tea.

Let's use our good silver and china. Oh, no, don't bother, Mrs French.

This is perfectly all right. Lemon or milk, please?

I don't really care. Would you prefer sherry?

That'd be fine. We've no' got any.

Oh, but we have. There's that bottle, the one we bought last Christmas.

If you care for an eggnog there's a wasted egg in the kitchen ready and separated.

Do sit down. Don't mind Janet, Mr Vole. It's just that she's terribly Scotch.

Oh, is she? I thought she came with the collection.

You know, maybe I'll take a glass of sherry myself.

I feel like Christmas, somehow.

After that I saw her once or twice a week. She always kept a bottle of sherry for me.

We'd talk, play canasta, listen to gramophone records, Gilbert and Sullivan mostly.

It's so weird to think of her now, lying in that living room, murdered.

I assure you she's been moved by now. To leave her would be unfeeling, unlawful, and unsanitary.

Tell Sir Wilfrid about the evening of the murder.

I went around to see her about eight o'clock.

She fixed a sandwich, we talked, listened to The Mikado.

I left about nine. I walked home. I got there about half past.

I can prove that. I can swear to it, in or out of court, in the witness box, anywhere!

How much money did you get from Mrs French?

Nothing. The truth. How much?

Why should she give me any money? Because she was in love with you.

That's ridiculous. She liked me.

She pampered me like an aunt. But that's all, I swear.

Why didn't you tell her you had a wife? I did!

But you never took your wife along when you went there. Why not?

Because... Because what?

Because she was under the impression we didn't get along too well.

Is that true? No! We love each other.

Then how did she get that impression? She just seemed to want to believe it.

You never corrected her. Why? I was afraid she'd lose interest.

Because she was rich, and you were after her money.

Well, yes, in a way.

I was hoping for a loan for my new invention. Just a few hundred pounds.

An honest business proposition, that's all. Is that so wicked?

You knew it was the housekeeper's day off?

Well, yes. You went there because she'd be alone?

No, because I thought she might be lonely.

All right, lonely. You and the rich lonely widow all alone in that house with a gramophone blaring The Mikado.

Perhaps you turned up the volume to drown her cries.

When I left her she was alive! When Janet came back she was dead.

The house had been ransacked! It said in the papers. It must've been a burglar.

I didn't do it. No matter how bad things look, I didn't do it!

You must believe me. You do believe me, don't you?

I do now, but I wasn't sure.

That's why I subjected your eyes and my arteries to that ordeal.

I'm sorry. That's all right.

As for things looking bad, they don't look bad, Mr Vole, they look terrible.

Apparently you've no alibi at all. But I have. I left Mrs French's at nine.

By bus or underground? No, I walked. It was a fine night.

Did anyone see you? Christine saw me when I got home.

It was 9.26. I know because I went right to work on a clock I've been tinkering with.

My wife will tell you. Your wife loves you, yes?

Very much. We're devoted to each other.

You realise, Mr Vole, the testimony of a devoted wife does not carry much weight.

People might think Christine would lie on my account?

It has been known, Mr Vole. Blood is thicker than evidence.

Ah, Brogan-Moore. Come in, come in. So good to have you out of hospital.

I didn't get a full pardon, I'm out on parole. You know Mr Mayhew, I believe.

This is his client, Mr Leonard Vole. How do you do?

How do you do? The Emily French murder.

Oh, how do you do? Badly, thank you.

A mass of circumstantial evidence. No alibi whatsoever. It's a hot potato.

Tossing it into your lap. Much obliged.

Your line of defence, however, will be lack of motive.

You will agree that we can rule out a crime of passion, hm?

That leaves us with a murder for profit.

If Mr Vole had been sponging off Mrs French, why cut off the source of supply?

Or, if he'd been hoping for a golden egg, why kill the goose before it was laid?

No motive. No motive whatsoever.

You find some flaw in this reasoning? No, no, it's very sound as far as it goes.

Well, it's all yours. You'll find Mr Vole very responsive and quite candid.

So candid, he's already told me we'll have to sue him for our fees.

Oh, we'll simply put a lean on Mr Vole's £80,000.

What £80,000? The £80,000 Mrs French left you.

Left me?

They opened Mrs French's bank vault today and found her will.

Congratulations. £80,000!

And I was worried about a couple of hundred for that silly eggbeater.

I must call Christine.

Oh.

This doesn't make things look any better for me, does it?

No. I wouldn't think so. So now they'll say I did have a motive.

They will indeed. £80,000 makes for a very handsome motive.

I thought you were crazy but now they will arrest me!

It's not unlikely.

As a matter of fact, it's quite likely. They're on their way up now.

I knew nothing about that will. I'd no idea she'd any intention of leaving me money.

If I didn't know, how can it be a motive? We'll certainly bring that out in court.

It's our old friend Inspector Hearne. Chief Inspector as of last month.

Chief Inspector? They must think a lot of you at Scotland Yard.

You're getting the deluxe treatment.

Oh, in here, Chief Inspector. Sorry to disturb you in your chambers.

That's perfectly all right. I never object to the actions of the police except once in a great while in court. Yes, sir, I still have the scars.

You know Mr Mayhew, Mr Brogan-Moore.

This is Leonard Vole. You'd better search him, he may be armed with an eggbeater.

Is your name Leonard Vole? Yes, it is.

I have a warrant for your arrest on the charge of murdering Emily French.

I must warn you that anything you say may be taken down and used in evidence.

Well, I'm ready. Must I be handcuffed?

That won't be necessary, sir.

I've never been arrested before, not even for walking a dog off a lead or having a beer after hours. There's no disgrace in being arrested.

Kings, prime ministers, archbishops, even barristers have stood in the dock.

Somebody better call my wife. I will, don't worry.

I'll go too, see you're properly charged.

You will see to it that he is well-treated? We will.

Would you like a cigar? Pardon me.

That's very kind of you, Sir Wilfrid. I'd better not. It would constitute a bribe.

We ought to be going, Mr Vole.

One thing I've learned for sure, never look in a window with women's hats.

Good day, sir.

Makes a very nice impression, doesn't he?

Yes, rather. Give him the monocle test? Passed with flying colours.

I hope he does as well in the dock. This is sticky, you know.

Of course. The prosecution will blast in with their heaviest artillery.

All you'll have is one little popgun, an alibi furnished by his wife.

Isn't that an intriguing challenge?

I think I'd like it more if it was less of a challenge and less intriguing.

Miss Plimsoll has issued an ultimatum. In bed in one minute or she'll resign.

Splendid. Give her a month's pay and kick her down the stairs.

Either you take care of yourself or I, too, shall resign.

This is blackmail. But you're quite right.

For my first day this has already been rather hectic. I should be in bed.

I'd better get in touch with Mrs Vole and have her come over. Will you sit in?

Thank you, no. I'm in no condition to cope with emotional wives drenched in tears.

Miss Plimsoll, how alluring you look, waiting like a hangman on the scaffold.

Take me, I'm yours.

Oh!

About Mrs Vole. Handle her gently, especially when you tell her of the arrest.

Bear in mind she's a foreigner, so prepare for hysterics, even a fainting spell.

Better have smelling salts ready, box of tissues and a nip of brandy.

I do not think that will be necessary.

I never faint in case I don't fall gracefully, and I never use smelling salts because they puff up the eyes.

I'm Christine Vole.

How do you do? This is Mr Brogan-Moore.

How do you do?

I am Wilfrid Robarts. How do you do?

My dear Mrs Vole, I'm afraid we have bad news for you.

Don't be afraid, I'm quite disciplined. There's nothing to be alarmed about yet.

Leonard has been arrested and charged with murder. Is that it?

Yes. I knew he would be, I told him so.

I'm glad you're showing such fortitude.

Call it what you like. What is the next step?

Your husband will have to stand trial, I'm afraid.

Will you explain the procedure? Mr Brogan-Moore will lead the defence.

Oh?

You will not defend Leonard? Regrettably not.

My health, or, rather, the lack of it, forbids me.

It is regrettable. Mr Mayhew described you as champion of the hopeless cause.

Is it, perhaps, that this cause is too hopeless?

I'll have a serious talk with Dr Harrison. It was a mistake to let you come back here.

I should have taken you to a rest-home or a resort.

Some place quiet, far off, like Bermuda.

Shut up. You just want to see me in those nasty shorts.

Come now, Sir Wilfrid, you must not think of it.

You must get ready for sleep, think beautiful thoughts.

Now, let's get undressed. Put these on, tops and bottoms, while I make your bed.

After your rest we'll have a nice cup of cocoa.

Then perhaps we'll have a walk around the square.

You know, I feel sorry for that nice Mr Vole.

And not just because he was arrested, but that wife of his. She must be German.

That's what happens when we let our boys cross the Channel. They go crazy.

The government should do something about foreign wives. Like an embargo.

How else can we take care of our own surplus. Don't you agree, Sir Wilfrid?

All right. Hop in!

Sir Wilfrid?

Sir Wilfrid!

Come back!

Yes, of course I knew that Leonard had been seeing Mrs French quite frequently.

Go on.

I knew when he came home with a pair of green socks she'd knitted for him.

That's quite natural. I'm sure a jury will find it endearing.

Leonard can be very endearing. He hates that particular shade of green and the socks were two sizes too large, but he wore them just the same to give her pleasure.

Leonard has a way with women.

I only hope he has an all-woman jury. They will carry him from court in triumph.

A simple acquittal will do. Now, you know Mrs French left your husband money?

Yes. A lot of money.

Of course, your husband had no previous knowledge of this bequest?

Is that what he told you?

Surely you're not suggesting different?

Oh, no, no. I do not suggest anything.

Clearly, she had come to look upon your husband as a son or favourite nephew.

You think Mrs French looked upon Leonard as a son? Or a nephew?

I do. An entirely natural and understandable relationship.

What hypocrites you are in this country.

Pardon me, Brogan-Moore.

Do you mind if I ask you a question? Go right ahead, Sir Wilfrid.

You realise your husband's entire defence rests on his word and yours?

I realise that. And that the jury will be quite sceptical of the word of a man accused of murder when supported only by that of his wife?

I realise that too. Let us, then, at least make sure the two are not in conflict. By all means, let's.

I assume you want to help your husband?

Of course I want to help Leonard. I want to help Mr Brogan-Moore and to help you.

There. Isn't that more comfortable for you?

Now, Mrs Vole. This is very important.

On the night of the murder your husband came home before 9:30. Correct?

Precisely. Isn't that what he wants me to say?

Isn't it the truth?

Of course.

But when I told the police, I do not think they believed me.

Maybe I didn't say it well. Maybe because of my accent.

My dear Mrs Vole, in our courts we accept the evidence of witnesses who speak only Bulgarian and who must have an interpreter.

We accept the evidence of deaf-mutes who cannot speak at all, as long as they tell the truth.

You're aware that when you're in the witness box you will be sworn and you will testify under oath? Yes.

Leonard came home at 9.26 precisely and did not go out again.

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Is that better?

Mrs Vole, do you love your husband? Leonard thinks I do.

Well, do you? Am I already under oath?

Whatever your gambit may be, do you know that, under British law, you cannot be called to give testimony damaging to your husband?

How very convenient.

We are dealing with a capital crime.

The prosecution will try to hang your husband.

He is not my husband.

Leonard and I went through a form of marriage, but I had a husband living somewhere in East Germany, in the Russian zone.

Did you tell Leonard? I did not. It would have been stupid.

He would not have married me and I'd have been left to starve in the rubble.

But he did marry you and brought you safely here.

Don't you think you should be grateful?

One can get very tired of gratitude.

Your husband loves you very much, does he not?

Leonard? He worships the ground I walk on.

And you?

You want to know too much.

Auf Wiedersehen, gentlemen.

Thank you for coming in, Mrs Vole. Your visit has been most reassuring.

Do not worry, Sir Wilfrid. I will give him an alibi and I shall be very convincing.

There will be tears in my eyes when I say "Leonard came home at 9.26 precisely."

You're a very remarkable woman, Mrs Vole.

And you're satisfied, I hope?

I'm damned if I'm satisfied! Care for a whiff of those smelling salts?

That woman's up to something. But what?

The prosecution will break her down in no time when she's in the witness box.

This case is going to be rather like the charge of the Light Brigade or one of those Japanese suicide pilots. Quite one-sided.

With the odds all on the other side.

I haven't got much to go on, have I?

The fact is, I've got nothing.

Let me ask you something.

Do you believe Leonard Vole is innocent?

Do you?

Do you?

I'm not sure.

Oh, I'm sorry, Wilfrid. Of course, I'll do my best.

It's all right, Brogan-Moore.

I'll take it from here.

I have called Dr Harrison and given him a report on your shocking behaviour.

Give me a match, Miss Plimsoll. Sir Wilfrid!

Did you hear me? A match!


Mr Mayhew. Sir Wilfrid. I'm told you are going to represent me. I'm very grateful.

I struck a bargain with my doctors. They exile me to Bermuda as soon as we finish.

Thank you. There's hope that we'll both survive.

Get into these. We need a photograph. Why?

This is what you were wearing that night.

We'll circulate a photo on the chance that someone saw you on your way home.

Over here against the wall, please.

Hold it. One more in profile, please.

Do we really need this? My wife knows what time I came home that night.

A disinterested witness may be of more value.

Yes, of course, Christine is an interested witness.

I'll pick up the negatives later. Thank you.

I don't understand it. Why hasn't she come to see me?

Won't they let her see me? I mean, it's been two weeks now.

Mayhew, give me the reports.

Have you been talking to her? Is there something the matter?

I want to read a portion of the evidence of Janet McKenzie, the housekeeper.

"Mr Vole helped Mrs French with her business affairs, particularly her income tax returns."

Oh, yes, I did. Some of those forms are very complicated.

There's also a hint you may have helped her draft her new will.

Well, that's not true! If Janet said that she's lying.

She was always against me, I don't know why!

It's obvious. You threw an eggbeater into the wheels of her Victorian household.

Now, this cut in your wrist. You say you cut yourself with a knife?

Well, that's true, I did. I was cutting bread and the knife slipped.

But that was two days after. Christine was there. She'll tell them in her evidence.

Are you keeping something from me? Is she ill? Was she shocked?

All things considered, she took it well. Though that may be only on the surface.

Wives are often profoundly disturbed at such a time.

Yes, it must be hard. We've never been separated before.

Not since our first meeting. How did you meet your wife, Mr Vole?

In Germany in 1945.

It's rather funny. The very first time I saw her, the ceiling fell right in on me.

I was stationed outside Hamburg, with an RAF maintenance unit.

I'd just installed a shower in the officers' billet, so they gave me a weekend pass.

Come on!

♪ Join the party

♪ Have a hearty glass of rum

♪ Don't ever think about tomorrow

♪ For tomorrow may never come

♪ When I find me a happy place

♪ That's where I wanna stay

♪ Time is nothing as long as I'm living it up this way

♪ I may never go home any more

♪ Dim the lights and start locking the door

♪ Give your arms to me Give your charms to me

♪ After all that's what sailors are for

♪ I've got kisses and kisses galore

♪ That have never been tasted before

♪ if you treat me right This could be the night

♪ I may never go home

♪ I may never go home

♪ I may never go home

♪ I may never go home

♪ I may never go home any more

♪ I may never go home any more Hey, Fräulein, show us some legs.

They rob you blind and then throw you a ruddy sailor!

Come on, let's see 'em. We want legs!

Come help the cabaret out of her trousers!

All right, Fräulein, if you won't show 'em, I will.


All right, outside, everybody. Come on, let's go.

Come on.

Bring him round to the other truck.

We'll be back, baby! We'll be back!


Gesundheit.

What are you looking for? My accordion.

Oh, let me help you.

I think I found it. Step on it again, it's still breathing.

I'm terribly sorry.

You better go. We've had trouble enough.

Well, it's your own fault. That costume in the picture gave the boys ideas then those trousers let them down hard. That costume went in the first raid.

Then raid by raid, my other dresses, and now you've bombed my trousers.

Cigarette? Gum?

You're burning my nose.

Oh, I'm sorry. That's all right.

How about a cup of coffee? I've got a tin of coffee.

How much?

I don't know. What's the rate of exchange?

Depends whether it's fresh or powdered. It's instant coffee.

Got any hot water at your place?

Sometimes. Let's take a chance. Where do you live?

Nearby.

Come.

Sorry, it's the maid's night off.

This is pretty horrible. In a gemütlich sort of way.

Oh, it's fine now. I used to have a roommate. A dancer.

She had luck, she married a Canadian. She now lives in Toronto.

She has a Ford automobile.

Make yourself comfortable, the stove is slow these days.

That's all right, I've got a weekend pass.

No, not that chair. It holds up the beam and that holds up the ceiling.

You'd better sit down on the cot.

The cot?

Getting more gemütlich all the time. Are you married?

Why? Well, the, um...

Oh, that. No, no, I'm not married.

I just wear it when I'm working. Gives a little protection with all the men.

Didn't work too well tonight, did it? No, tonight was bad.

But it's getting better.

Where's the coffee? Ah, coffee, ja voll.

Finest Brazilian blend. The same brand that Field Marshal Montgomery drinks.

Is that a fair rate of exchange?

Very fair.

Would you be interested in having the whole tin?

I would.

How are you fixed for sugar? I could use some.

Milk?

Sure.

Milk. Sugar.

It's a pleasure to do business with you.

Yeah.

I also carry biscuits, powdered eggs, bacon, marmalade. I don't know if I can afford it.

Don't worry, we'll work out something, like an instalment plan.

♪ I may never go home any more

I'm terribly sorry. Now you have no ceiling.

Maybe I can fix it, I'm good at it. Why fix it? It's not raining.

Ooh.

Are you all right? I think so. My head aches a little.

Maybe I can fix it.

I'm good at it.

I had a weekend pass, a month's pay in my pocket.

And she already had a wedding ring. Yes, that's right.

We got married. When I got out of the service I brought her here.

It was wonderful. I rented a little flat, Edgware Road.

First time she saw it, she was so happy she broke down and cried.

Naturally. She had a solid roof over her head and a British passport.

You don't know her, how she feels about me. You will when she gives evidence.

Mr Vole, I must tell you I am not putting her in the witness box.

You're not? Why not?

She's a foreigner, unfamiliar with the subtleties of our language.

The prosecution could easily trip her up.

I hear it may be Mr Myers for the crown. We can't take chances.

Quite. We'd better be going. Miss Plimsoll is waiting in the car with her pills and a Thermos of lukewarm cocoa. Officer.

But Christine must give evidence. Mr Vole, you must learn to trust me.

For no other reason than I'm a mean, ill-tempered old man who hates to lose.

Let us wish each other luck.

Look, I can't face this without Christine. I tell you, I need her. Without her I'm sunk.

Touching, isn't it? The way he counts on his wife.

Yes. Like a drowning man clutching at a razor blade.

Leonard Stephen Vole, you are charged on indictment for that you, on the 14th day of October, in the county of London, murdered Emily Jane French.

How say you, Leonard Stephen Vole?

Are you guilty or not guilty?

Not guilty.

Members of the jury, the prisoner stands indicted for that he, on the 14th day of October, murdered Emily Jane French.

To this indictment he has pleaded not guilty.

And it is your charge to say, having heard the evidence, whether he be guilty or not.

Members of the jury, by the oath which you have just taken, you have sworn to try this case on the evidence.

You must shut out from your minds everything except what will take place in this court.

You may proceed for the prosecution, Mr Myers.

May it please you, my lord. Members of the jury, I appear in this case with my learned friend, Mr Barton, for the prosecution.

And my learned friends Sir Wilfrid Robarts and Mr Brogan-Moore appear for the defence.

I trust we are not to be deprived of the learned and stimulating presence of Sir Wilfrid?

My lord, may I assure my learned friend that Sir Wilfrid is in the Old Bailey.

He's slightly incapacitated, but will be in his seat presently.

My lord, may I express my regret that Sir Wilfrid is even slightly incapacitated.

You may, Mr Myers. You may also proceed with the case for the prosecution.

Thank you, my lord.

The facts in this case are simple and, to a point, not in dispute.

You will hear how the prisoner made the acquaintance of Mrs Emily French, a woman of 56.

How he was treated by her with kindness and even affection.

On the night of October 14 last, between 9:30 and 10, Mrs French was murdered.

Medical testimony will be introduced to prove that death was caused by a blow from a blunt and heavy instrument, and it is the case for the prosecution that the blow was dealt by the prisoner, Leonard Vole.

That's not true! I didn't do it!

Among the witnesses, you will hear police evidence, also the evidence of Mrs French's housekeeper, Janet McKenzie, and from the medical and laboratory experts, and the evidence of the murdered woman's solicitor, who drew her final will.

I now call Chief Inspector Hearne, Criminal Investigation Department, New Scotland Yard. Chief Inspector Hearne.

Chief Inspector Hearne. Chief Inspector Hearne.

This is ridiculous. Just nervous heartburn. I always get it the first day of a trial.

240 above 130. You shouldn't be here at all.

I should be in court, the trial's begun. Syringe, please.

Be a good, brave boy, Sir Wilfrid.

It may interest you to know that I am descended from a warrior family which traces its brave past back to Richard the Lion-Hearted.

You're to have a calcium injection daily, tranquillising pill every hour. I'll set my wristwatch alarm.

Any pain or shortness of breath, pop one of these nitroglycerin tablets under your tongue. Oh, and I'll leave you some...

That's enough, Doctor. The judge will be asking for a saliva test.

Carter, I'd better take that Thermos of cocoa with me.

Helps me wash down the pills. Let me see it, please.

My learned patient is not above substituting brandy for cocoa.

It is cocoa. So sorry.

If you were a woman, Miss Plimsoll, I would strike you.

Take care of this, Carter.

Now, Sir Wilfrid, in the courtroom, you must avoid overexcitement.

Yes, Doctor, yes, yes.

Watch your temper. Keep your blood pressure down.

Thank you, Doctor, I shall be quite safe, what with the pills and the cocoa.

Come along, Carter.

From the body temperature and other factors, we placed the time of death at between 9:30 and 10pm, approximately 30 minutes before Janet McKenzie returned home and called us.

Death was instantaneous, caused by one blow from a heavy and blunt instrument.

Were there any signs of a struggle?

None. Just the one blow.

Would that indicate that the murderer had taken Mrs French by surprise?

My lord, I must object.

My learned friend refers to the assailant as "the murderer".

We have not yet determined whether the assailant was a man or a woman.

It could quite conceivably have been "the murderess".

Mr Myers, Sir Wilfrid has joined us just in time to catch you on a point of grammar.

Please rephrase your question.

Yes, my lord. Inspector, is it your opinion that the assailant, whether he, she or it, had taken Mrs French by surprise?

My lord, I am taken by surprise that my learned friend should try to solicit from the witness an opinion, not a fact.

Quite so. You'll have to do better than that, Mr Myers.

My lord, I withdraw the question entirely.

Is that better? That's much better.

Silence! Silence!

Very well, Inspector, let us proceed with the facts.

After establishing the cause and the time of death, what did you then do?

A search was made, photographs were taken and the premises fingerprinted.

What fingerprints did you discover? I found the fingerprints of Mrs French, those of Janet McKenzie, and some which later proved to be those of Leonard Vole.

No others? No others.

Did you say the room had the appearance that a robbery had been committed?

Yes. Things were strewn about and the window had been broken near the catch.

There was glass on the floor, and fragments were found outside.

The glass outside was not consistent with the window being forced from the outside.

You're saying that someone made it look as if it had been forced from the outside?

My lord, I must object. My learned friend is putting words in the witness' mouth.

After all, if he insists on answering his own questions, the presence of the witness would seem superfluous.

Quite. Don't you think so, Mr Myers?

Yes, my lord.

Inspector, did you ascertain if any of the murdered woman's property was missing?

According to the housekeeper, nothing was missing.

In your experience, Inspector, when burglars or burglaresses break into a house, do they leave without taking anything?

No, sir.

Do you produce a jacket, Inspector? Yes, sir.

Is that the jacket?

Yes, sir. That is exhibit P1, my lord.

Where did you find this, Inspector?

That is the jacket found in the prisoner's flat, which I handed to our lab to test for bloodstains.

And did you find any bloodstains? Yes.

Though an attempt had been made to wash them out.

What tests were made?

First to determine if the stains were human blood, then to classify it by group or type.

And was the blood of a particular group or type?

Yes, sir. It is type O.

And did you subsequently test the blood of the dead woman?

Yes, sir. What type was that?

The same. Type O.

Thank you, Inspector. No further questions.

Inspector, you say the only fingerprints you found were those of Mrs French, Janet McKenzie and Leonard Vole.

In your experience, when a burglar breaks in, does he usually leave fingerprints or does he wear gloves? He wears gloves.

So the absence of fingerprints in a robbery would hardly surprise you? No, sir.

Can't we surmise the burglar might have entered a presumably empty house, suddenly encountered Mrs French and struck her, then, realising she was dead, fled without taking anything?

I submit, my lord, that it is entirely impossible to guess what went on in the mind of some entirely imaginary burglar.

With or without gloves.

Let us not surmise, Sir Wilfrid, but confine ourselves to facts.

Inspector, when you questioned the prisoner as to the stains on his jacket, did he not show you a recently-healed scar on his wrist, saying he had cut himself slicing bread? Yes, sir, that is what he said.

And were you not told the same thing by his wife?

Yes, sir. But afterwards... Just a simple yes or no, please.

Did the prisoner's wife show you a knife and tell you that her husband had cut his wrist while slicing bread?

Yes, sir. I will ask you to examine this knife.

Just test the edge of it with your finger. Carefully!

You agree that the point and the cutting edge are razor-sharp?

Yes, sir. Now, if such a knife were to slip, might it not inflict a cut that would bleed profusely?

Yes, sir, it might.

Inspector, you stated that the bloodstains on the prisoner's jacket were analysed, as was the blood of Mrs French, and they were both found to be of group O.

That is correct. However, if the prisoner's blood were also of this same group, then the stains on his jacket may well have resulted from the household accident he described to you.

Yes, sir.

Did you examine the prisoner's blood, Inspector?

No, sir.

I have here a certificate stating that Leonard Stephen Vole is a blood donor at the North London Hospital.

And that his blood is group O.

Thank you, Inspector.

Inspector, granted that the cut on the wrist was caused by that knife, is there anything to show whether it was an accident or done deliberately after the murder to account for the bloodstains?

Oh, really, my lord! I withdraw the question.

You may stand down.

Call Janet McKenzie. Janet McKenzie.

Janet McKenzie. Janet McKenzie.


I swear by Almighty God that the evidence...

...the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Carter. Carter. Pill. Pill.

Your name is Janet McKenzie? Aye, that's my name.

When did you first come to London? That was many years ago. 28 years ago.

Where do you live? Now that Mrs French, poor soul, is dead, I've moved in with my niece at 19 Glenister Road.

You were companion-housekeeper to the late Mrs Emily French?

I was her housekeeper! I've no opinion of companions, poor feckless bodies, afraid of a bit of honest domestic work.

I meant you were on friendly terms, not altogether those of mistress and servant.

Aye. Ten years I was with her and looked after her.

She knew me and she trusted me.

Many's the time I prevented her doing a foolish thing.

Please tell us, in your own words, about the events of the evening of October 14.

It was a Friday and my night out. I was going to see my niece at Glenister Road, which is about five minutes' walk. I left the house at half past seven.

I promised to take her a dress pattern that she admired.

Och, is this thing necessary? An excellent question.

However, it has been installed at considerable expense to the taxpayers, so let us take advantage of it. Please continue.

Well, when I got to my niece's, I found I'd left the pattern behind.

So after supper I slipped back to get it as it was no distance.

I got back to the house at 25 past 9.

I let myself in and went upstairs to my room.

As I passed the sitting room, I heard the prisoner in there, talking to Mrs French.

No, it wasn't me! It wasn't my voice!

Talking and laughing they were.

But it was no business of mine, so I went upstairs to fetch my pattern.

Now, let us be very exact as to the time.

You say that you re-entered the house at 25 past 9?

Aye. The pattern was on a shelf in my room next to my clock so I saw the time.

And it was 25 past 9. Go on, please.

I went back to my niece. Och, she was delighted with the pattern. Si...

Simply delighted. I stayed until 20 to 11, then I said good night and I come home.

I went into the sitting room to see if the mistress wanted anything before she went to bed.

And there she was, dead. And everything tossed hither and thither.

Did you really think that a burglary had been committed?

My lord, I must protest!

I will not allow that question to be answered, Mr Myers.

Miss McKenzie, were you aware that Leonard Vole was a married man?

No, indeed. And neither was the mistress.

Janet! My lord, I must object.

What Mrs French knew or did not know is pure conjecture on Janet McKenzie's part.

Let me put it this way. You formed the opinion that Mrs French thought Leonard Vole was a single man?

Have you any facts to support this? The books that she ordered.

A life of the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, and the one about Disraeli and his wife.

Both of them about women that married men years younger than themselves. Oh!

I knew what she was thinking. I'm afraid we cannot admit that.

Why?

Members of the jury, it is possible for a woman to read The Life of Disraeli without contemplating marriage with a man younger than herself.

Were you aware of the arrangements Mrs French made to dispose of her money?

She had her old will revoked and a new one drawn up.

I heard her calling Mr Stokes, her solicitor.

He was there at the time. The prisoner, I mean.

You heard Mrs French and the prisoner discussing her new will?

Yes. He was to have all her money, she told him, as she had no near relations nor anybody that meant to her what he did.

When did this take place? On October 8.

One week to the day before she was murdered.

Thank you. That concludes my examination.

Not just yet, Miss McKenzie.

Would you...? Thank you.

Miss McKenzie, you have given evidence about two wills.

In the old will, that which was revoked, were you not to receive the bulk of Mrs French's estate?

That's so.

Whereas in the new will, except for a bequest to you of a small annuity, the principal beneficiary is the prisoner, Leonard Vole.

It'll be a wicked injustice if he ever touches a penny of that money.

It is entirely understandable that you are antagonistic to the prisoner.

I'm not antagonistic to him.

He's a shiftless, scheming rascal. But I'm not antagonistic to him.

I suggest you formed this opinion because his friendship with Mrs French cost you the bulk of her estate.

I've never liked him. Your candour is refreshing.

Now. On the night of October 14 you say you heard the prisoner and Mrs French talking together.

What did you hear them say? I didn't hear what they actually said.

You mean you only heard the voices?

The murmur of voices? They were laughing.

What makes you say the man's voice was Leonard Vole's?

I know his voice well enough. The door was closed, was it not?

Aye, that's so. You were in a hurry to get the pattern so you probably walked quickly past the closed door, yet you are sure you heard Leonard Vole's voice?

I was there long enough to hear what I heard.

Come, I'm sure you don't wish to suggest to the jury that you were eavesdropping.

It was him in there. Who else could it have been?

What you mean is that you wanted it to be him. That's the way your mind worked.

Now, tell me, did Mrs French sometimes watch television in the evening?

Yes. She was fond of a talk or a good play.

Wasn't it possible when you returned home and passed the door, what you really heard was the television and a man and woman's voices and laughter?

There was a play called Lover's Leap on the television that night.

It was not the television. Oh, why not?

Because the television was away being repaired that week, that's why.

Silence! Silence!

Odd. It's not time yet.

If my learned friend has no further questions, I'd like...

I have not quite finished.

You are registered, are you not, under the National Health Insurance Act?

Aye, that's so. Four and sixpence I pay out every week.

That's a terrible lot of money for a working woman to pay.

I am sure that many agree with you.

Miss McKenzie, did you recently apply to the National Health Insurance for...

...a hearing aid? For... for what?

I protest against the way in which this question was put!

I will repeat the question, my lord.

I asked you in a normal tone of voice, audible to everyone in open court, did you apply to the National Health Insurance for a hearing aid?

Yes, I did.

Did you get it? Not yet.

However, you state that you walked past a door, which is four inches of solid oak, you heard voices, and you are willing to swear that you could distinguish the voice of...

...the prisoner, Leonard Vole.

Who? Who?

No further questions.

Och, maybe you could help me, Your Lordship.

Six months ago I applied for my hearing aid, and I'm still waiting for it.

My dear Miss McKenzie, considering the rubbish that is being talked nowadays, you are missing very little. You may stand down now.

Call Police Constable Jeffries.

Police Constable Jeffries. Police Constable Jeffries.

I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Mr Myers, does that conclude your case?

No, my lord. I now call the final witness for the prosecution, Christine Helm.

Christine Helm! Christine Helm.

Christine.

I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

My lord, I have the most serious objection to this witness being summoned, as she is the wife of the prisoner.

I call my learned friend's attention to the fact that I summoned not Mrs Vole, but Mrs Helm.

Your name, in fact, is Christine Helm? Yes. Christine Helm.

And you have been living as the wife of the prisoner, Leonard Vole?

Yes. Are you actually his wife?

No.

I went through a marriage ceremony with him, but I already had a husband.

He's still alive. Christine, that's not true!

There is proof of a marriage between the witness and the prisoner, but is there any proof of a so-called previous marriage?

My lord, the so-called previous marriage is, in fact, well-documented.

Mrs Helm, is this a certificate of marriage between yourself and Otto Ludwig Helm, the ceremony having taken place in Breslau on 18 April 1942?

Yes, that is the paper of my marriage.

I don't see any reason why this witness should not be qualified to give evidence.

You're willing to give evidence against the man you've been calling your husband?

Yes.

You stated to the police that on the night that Mrs French was murdered, Leonard Vole left the house at 7:30 and returned at 25 minutes past 9.

Did he, in fact, return at 25 past 9?

No. He returned at ten minutes past ten.

Christine, what are you saying? It's not true. You know it's not true!

Silence!

I must have silence.

As your counsel will tell you, Vole, you will very shortly have an opportunity of speaking in your own defence.

Leonard Vole returned, you say, at ten minutes past ten.

And what happened next? He was breathing hard, very excited.

He threw off his coat and examined the sleeves.

Then he told me to wash the cuffs.

They had blood on them. Go on.

I said "What have you done?" What did the prisoner say?

He said "I've killed her."

Christine! Why are you lying? Why are you saying these things?

What an awful woman. She's evil. I've known it all along.

If the defence so desires, I will adjourn for a short time so that the prisoner may gain control of himself.

My lord is most gracious, but pray let the witness continue.

We are all of us caught up in the suspense of this horror fiction.

To have to hear it in instalments might prove unendurable.

Proceed, Mr Myers. Mrs Helm, when the prisoner said "I have killed her", did you know to whom he referred?

It was that woman he had been seeing so often.

When questioned by the police, you told them that the prisoner returned at 9.25.

Yes. Because Leonard asked me to say that.

But you've changed your story now. Why?

I cannot go on lying to save him.

I said to the police what he wanted because I'm grateful to him.

He married me and brought me to this country.

What he has asked me to do I have because I was grateful.

It was not because he was your husband and you loved him?

I never loved him.

It was gratitude, then, that prompted you to give him an alibi in your statement to the police? That is it. Exactly.

But now you think it was wrong to do so. Because it is murder.

That woman, she was a harmless old fool, and he makes of me an accomplice to the murder.

I cannot come into court and swear that he was with me at the time it was done.

I cannot do it! I cannot do it!

Then this is the truth?

That Leonard Vole returned that night at ten minutes past ten, he had blood on the sleeves of his coat, and that he said to you "I have killed her"?

That is the truth.

That is the truth, before God?

That is the truth.

Thank you.

Mrs Vole, or Mrs Helm, which do you prefer to be called?

It does not matter. Does it not?

In this country we are inclined to take a rather more serious view of marriage.

However, it would appear that when you first met the prisoner in Hamburg you lied to him about your marital status. I wanted to get out of Germany, so...

You lied, did you not? Just yes or no, please.

Yes. Thank you.

And in arranging the marriage, you lied to the authorities?

I, um, did not tell the truth to the authorities.

You lied to them? Yes.

And in the ceremony, when you swore to love, honour and cherish your husband, that too was a lie? Yes.

And when the police questioned you about this wretched man who believed himself married and loved, you told them... I told them what he wanted me to.

You told them that he was at home with you at 25 minutes past 9, and now you say that that was a lie? Yes, a lie!

And when you said that he had accidentally cut his wrist, again, you lied?

Yes! And today you told a new story entirely.

The question is, Frau Helm, were you lying then, are you lying now?

Or are you not, in fact, a chronic and habitual liar?!

Carter, Carter! The other pill. Under the tongue.

My lord, is my learned friend to be allowed to bully and insult the witness?

Mr Myers, this is a capital charge and, within the bounds of reason, I should like the defence to have every latitude.

My lord, may I also remind my learned friend that his witness, by her own admission, has already violated so many oaths that I am surprised the Testament did not leap from her hand when she was sworn here today.

I doubt if anything is to be gained by questioning you any further.

That will be all, Frau Helm.

Mrs Helm, I presume you know the meaning of the English word "perjury"?

In German, the word is Meineid. Yes. Meineid.

It means to swear falsely under oath.

And are you aware, Mrs Helm, that the penalty in this country for perjury is a heavy term of imprisonment?

Yes, I'm aware.

Mindful of this fact, I ask you once more, is the evidence that you have given the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

So help me, God.

Then that, my lord, is the case for the prosecution.

Want a tissue? Yes, thanks.

It's the first murder trial I've ever been to. It's terrible.

Silence.

Sir Wilfrid. Are you ready for the defence?

My lord, members of the jury, the prosecution has very ably presented against the prisoner, Leonard Vole, a case with the most overwhelming circumstantial evidence.

Among the witnesses you have heard Chief Inspector Hearne, who has given his testimony in a fair and impartial manner, as he always does.

He has put before you a clever theory of how this crime was committed.

Whether it is theory or actual fact, however, you will decide for yourselves.

And then you have heard the evidence of Janet McKenzie, a worthy and devoted housekeeper who has suffered two most grievous losses.

One, the death of her beloved mistress and, second, in being deprived of an inheritance of £80,000, which she'd fully expected to receive.

I will not comment further on her evidence, but will express only my deepest sympathy for her in both these... mishaps.

And most damaging of all, the prosecution has produced a surprise witness, one Christine Helm, whom the prisoner brought from the rubble of her homeland to the safety of this country, giving her his love and the protection of his name.

I objected to her testimony because a wife cannot give evidence harmful to her husband.

But it has been proven that her marriage to Mr Vole was fraudulent and bigamous.

Therefore, her evidence must be admitted and you must consider it.

For what it is worth.

Such is the prosecution's case. Now it is the tum of the defence.

We could present, on behalf of the prisoner, witnesses to his character, his war record, the lack of criminal or evil association in his past.

However, only one witness can shed new light on this tragic riddle.

The prisoner himself.

Members of the jury, I call Leonard Stephen Vole.

I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. No.

Is your name Leonard Stephen Vole? It is.

Where do live? 620 Edgware Road.

Leonard Stephen Vole, did you or did you not on the night of October 14 last, murder Emily Jane French?

I did not. Thank you, that will be all.

Have you, in fact, concluded your examination of the prisoner, Sir Wilfrid?

The prisoner has endured three days of profound mental agony and shock.

The defence feels his faculties should be spared for the cross-examination by my learned friend for the prosecution.

This is not a plea for any indulgence.

I am confident that no matter how searching this may be, the prisoner will withstand it.

At the time you made the acquaintance of Mrs French, were you employed?

No, sir. How much money did you have?

A few pounds. Did she give you any?

No.

Did you expect to receive any? No, sir.

Did you know that in her new will, you were the beneficiary of £80,000?

No, I didn't.

Now, Mr Vole, when you went to visit Mrs French for the last time, did you wear a trench coat and a brown hat?

Yes, I did. Was it this coat and hat?

Yes, sir.

My lord, the defence, in its efforts to establish an alibi for the prisoner, circulated this photograph, hoping to bring forth a witness who had seen him leaving Mrs French's house or entering his own at the times that he has stated.

Apparently, this splendid effort was without results.

However, the defence will be pleased to learn that, at the last moment, a witness has come forward, and that the prisoner had been seen wearing this coat and this hat.

Lamentably, he had not been seen on the night of the murder but one week before.

On the afternoon of October 8, were you not in a travel agency in Regent Street?

And did you not make inquiries about prices and schedules of foreign cruises?

Supposing I did? It's not a crime, is it?

Not at all. Many people go on a cruise when they can afford to pay for it.

But you couldn't pay for it, could you? Well, I was hard up. I told you that.

And yet you came to this particular travel agency with a clinging brunette?

A clinging brunette, Mr Myers?

My lord, the lady was so described to me.

She was very affectionate with the prisoner, constantly clinging to his arm.

Oh.

You then admit that you made inquiries about expensive and luxurious cruises?

How did you expect to pay for such a thing?

I don't know. It was... If you don't know, perhaps I can help.

On the morning of the very same day, you heard Mrs French change her will, leaving you the bulk of her money. I didn't!

And in the afternoon, you started plans to dispose of it.

No! It was nothing of the kind.

I was in a pub and I met a girl. I don't even remember her name.

We had a drink and walked out together.

We passed the window and saw the fancy posters, all blue seas and palm trees.

The Grecian isles or somewhere. We went in for fun and I started asking for folders.

Well, the man gave me a funny look because I did look a bit shabby.

Anyway, it irritated me, so I kept asking for the swankiest tours, all deluxe and cabin on the boat deck, but it was just an act!

An act? You knew that in a week you were going to inherit £80,000!

No! it wasn't that way at all. It was make-believe and childish but... it was fun and I enjoyed it. I never thought of killing anyone or inheriting any money.

It's just a coincidence that Mrs French should be killed only one week later?

I told you! I didn't kill her!

Do you know any reason why Christine Helm should give the evidence she has if it were not true? No. I don't know why my wife...

I don't know why I still call her my wife. She must be lying or out of her mind.

She seemed remarkably sane and self-possessed.

But insanity is all you can suggest? I don't understand it.

Oh, God! What's happened? What's changed her?

Very effective, I'm sure. But in this court we deal with fact.

And the fact, Mr Vole, is that we've only your word for it.

That you left Mrs French's house at the time you say, that you came home at 5 and 20 minutes past 9, and that you did not go out again!

Somebody must have seen me in the street or going in the house!

One would think so. But the only person who did see you come home that night says it was ten past ten and that you had blood on your hands.

I cut my wrist! You cut your wrist deliberately!

No, I didn't! I didn't do anything.

But you make it sound as though I did. I can hear it myself.

You came home at ten past ten!

No, I didn't! You've got to believe me. You've got to believe me!

You killed Emily French!

No, I didn't! I didn't do it!

I didn't kill her! I never killed anybody!

God, it's like a nightmare. Some ghastly, horrible dream.

Good evening, Sir Wilfrid. How did it go today?

Oh, Sir Wilfrid.

I'm from Hawks and Hill, sir, and I've brought your Bermuda shorts for a fitting.

What?

You'd better slip these on, Sir Wilfrid. I'm in the middle of a murder trial.

It'll all be over by the afternoon, and the boat train doesn't go until 9.40.

You work it out. You know my shape, you've stabbed it often enough.

Upstairs. You need a lukewarm bath and your calcium injection.

And there's a lot more packing to be done.

It's ridiculous having boat reservations. The jury may be out for days.

Not on this case, I'm afraid. It seems too open-and-shut.

I watched when Frau Helm was on the stand. They didn't like her.

No, but they believed her. They liked Leonard Vole but they didn't believe him.

And that travel agency business doesn't help either. Cigar?

No.

Wilfrid, do you think she lied? Well, don't you?

I'm not sure.

I am. She lied. Whether she calls it Meineid or perjury, she lied.

The only question is why. What's her game? What is she up to? What?

I hope that in your final speech you won't become too emotionally involved.

You must think of your condition. He's right.

I want to see you save yourself. This isn't going to be your last case.

Yes, it is. But until it's over, I'm still a barrister.

My client's life is at stake. That's all that matters... his life.

He's entitled to the best that I can do.

If I can't stand up to make my final appeal for him, I'll make it sitting down.

If I become short of breath I'll take a pill, or two pills, or all of them and the box too.

Yes? This Sir Wilfrid Robarts' place?

Well, yes, it is. Let me talk to the old geezer.

Who is this speaking, please? Never you mind. Let me talk to 'im.

I'm afraid that's impossible. What is the nature of your business?

It's business all right. I've got something to sell 'im, I 'ave.

Well, really, madam!

And what I want to sell 'im, believe me, 'e'll want to buy.

It's got to do with that Leonard Vole. Leonard Vole?

It's about that German wife.

I've got the goods on her and it's for sale.

This is Wilfrid Robarts speaking. Now, what is this all about?

Well, hello, ducky.

What is this you said about Mrs Leonard Vole?

I'm not just saying. I've got it in black and white.

You've got what? Listen to this carefully, ducks.

I'm at the buffet at Euston Station at the far end of the bar.

I'll be here for 30 minutes because that's when me train leaves.

If you want the lowdown on that German bag, get yourself here.

What lowdown? What do you know about her?

Uh-uh. Not on the phone.

You'd better get on over here, and bring plenty of money.

Now, just a moment! Hello? Hello?

That's... bilge. Some drunken crank. You get those in every murder trial.

Giving me an ultimatum, Euston Station in 30 minutes. Got the lowdown on Mrs Vole.

Balderdash.

I'm too old and too sick to go on a wild-goose chase.

Come on, Mayhew. Where to, Sir Wilfrid?

Euston Station, where do you think?

Now, sir?

Shortly.

Cigar!

Sir Wilfrid, where are you going?

Your bath, your massage, your dinner, your injection!

Thank you, Miss Plimsoll.


You wouldn't be Sir Wilfrid, would you? I would.

Didn't recognise you without your wig. Lovely you all look in them wigs.

Two o' yer? I'm not talking to two o' yer.

This is Mr Mayhew, Leonard Vole's solicitor.

Well, that's all right, then. And your name, please?

No need for mine. If did give you a name it mightn't be the right one, might it?

'Ave a drink, boys. Two whiskies for me gen'lmen friends.

Now what is this information you allegedly have?

You realise that you're duty-bound to give any evidence that you might have?

Come off it. Did you bring any money? What is it you have, madam?

Letters. Letters that German wife of 'is wrote. That's what I've got.

Letters written to the prisoner? To the prisoner? Don't make me laugh.

Poor bleeder, he's been took in by 'er all right. And these letters prove it.

If we could see these letters, we could advise you as to how pertinent they are.

Well, I don't expect you...

Well, as I say, I don't expect you to buy without seeing, but fair's fair.

If these letters get the boy off, it's £100 for me, right?

If these letters contain information useful to the defence, I'm prepared to offer £10.

What? Ten bleeding pounds for letters like these?

Take that piece of glass out o' yer eye. Good night.

If these help prove my client's innocence, £20 should, I think, not be an unreasonable sum for your expenses.

50 and it's a bargain. That's if you're satisfied with 'em.

£40. All right, blast yer.

'Ere, take 'em. Nice little lot there.

How do we know these are from Mrs Vole?

Oh, she wrote 'em all right. It's all fair an' square.

I 'ope they fix 'er good and proper.

I've had messages from Mrs Vole. It looks like her handwriting.

Good heavens, look at this.

Juicy, ain't they?

There's one that's even better. How did you get hold of these?

What's the difference so long as she gets what's coming?

What have you got against her? Ha!

I'll give you something to dream about, mister.

Want to kiss me, ducky?

Ha!

I didn't suppose you would. Christine Vole did that to you?

Not 'er, the chap I was going with. He was a bit younger than me but I loved 'im.

Then she come along, started seeing 'im on the sly. Then one day he cleared out.

I found 'em together. I said what I thought of 'er and he cut me face up proper.

Did you go to the police about it? Who, me? Not likely.

It wasn't 'is fault. It was all 'ers, gettin' 'im away from me, turnin' 'im against me.

But I waited me time to pay 'er back. And it's come now.

I'm deeply sorry, deeply sorry. We'll make it another £5 for the letters.

'Olding out on me, were yer? I knew I was being soft with yer.

Cold-blooded vindictiveness. Read this one.

Unbelievable.

We'd better have the full name of the man to whom these were addressed, Miss...

Miss, um...

Where is she?

On that train, I should think. Doesn't want her other cheek slashed. Can't blame her.

Care for another, sir? Hm?

Good idea.

Silence!

Be upstanding in court.

All persons who have anything to do before my lords, the queen's justices of oyer and terminer and general jail delivery for the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, draw near and give your attendance. God save the queen.

Since the defence has called but one witness, the prisoner, it has the right to be heard last.

Mr Myers, if you are ready, let us have the final address for the prosecution.

My lord, members of the jury, I will be brief in my final speech because I think we've proved so obvious a case of murder against Leonard Vole, that a verdict of guilty must be the only possible conclusion.

I will briefly summarise these facts...

You'd better begin again, Mr Myers.

That is, if Sir Wilfrid is at all interested in our proceedings.

I am, indeed, my lord. The speech for the crown, however, is premature.

I ask that the case for the defence be reopened. And that a witness be recalled.

I most strenuously object to the case being reopened at this final stage.

Evidence of a startling nature has come into my possession.

The course my learned friend proposes is quite unprecedented.

I have anticipated this objection and can meet it with ample precedent.

There is the king vs Stillman, reported in the criminal appeal reports of 1926 at page 463.

Also, the king vs Porter in volume one of the king's bench division reports, 1942 at page 153.

And lastly there is the case of the king vs Sullivan in which this issue was raised, which I'm sure Your Lordship will remember, since you appeared for the prosecution.

I did? Oh, yes, before Mr Justice Swindon.

What is this new evidence, Sir Wilfrid?

Letters, my lord.

Letters written by Christine Helm.

My lord, the prosecution continues its objection.

If my memory serves me well, Your Lordship's similar objection in the king against Sullivan was sustained.

Your memory, for once, serves you ill, Mr Myers.

My objection then was overruled by Mr Justice Swindon.

As yours is now, by me.

Call Christine Helm.

Christine Helm.

Christine Helm. Christine Helm.

If you still have doubts about Mr Vole, I wouldn't mind betting you a box of cigars.

Mrs Helm, you appreciate you are still under oath?

Yes.

Do you know a man named Max? I don't know what you mean.

It's a simple question. Do you or do you not know a man called Max?

Max? Certainly not.

It's a fairly common name and yet you've never known a man named Max?

In Germany, perhaps, but a long time ago.

I shall not ask you to go back that far. Just a few weeks, to... October 20 last.

What have you got there? A letter.

I suggest that on October 20 you wrote a letter... I don't know what you're talking about.

...Addressed to a man named Max. I did nothing of the sort.

The letter was but one of a series written to the same man.

Lies! All lies!

You seem to have been, well, let us say, on intimate terms with this man.

How dare you say a thing like that? It isn't true!

I'm not concerned with the general trend of this correspondence, only one letter.

"My beloved Max, an extraordinary thing has happened."

"I believe all our difficulties may be ended."

I will not stand here and listen to a pack of lies!

That letter's a forgery. It isn't even my letter paper!

It isn't? No!

I write my letters on small blue paper with my initials on it.

Like this?

This is a bill from my tailor for a pair of extremely becoming Bermuda shorts.

Wilfrid the fox! That's what we call him and that's what he is.

Now, Mrs Helm, you've been kind enough to identify your letter paper.

Now, if you like, I can have an expert identify your handwriting.

Damn you!

Damn you! Leave her alone!

Damn you! Mrs Helm!

Let me go! Let me get out of here! Let me go!

Mrs Helm! Let me go!

Usher, get the witness a chair.

Sir Wilfrid, will you now read the letter in question so that the jury may hear it?

"My beloved Max, an extraordinary thing has happened."

"All our difficulties may soon be solved."

"Leonard is suspected of murdering the old lady I told you about."

"His only hope of an alibi depends on me and me alone."

"Suppose I testify that he was not at home with me at the time of the murder, that he came home with blood on his sleeves, and that he even admitted to me that he'd killed her?"

"Strange that he always said he would never let me leave him."

"But now, if this succeeds, he will be leaving me because they will take him away forever and I shall be free and yours, my beloved."

"I count the hours until we are together. Christine."

Mrs Helm? Will you go back to the witness box?

I now ask you again, Christine Helm, did you write this letter?

Christine, tell him you didn't write it. I know you didn't.

Please answer my question. Did you write this letter?

Before answering, Mrs Helm, I wish to warn you that the law regarding perjury in this country is very severe.

If you have already committed perjury in this courtroom, I strongly advise you not to add to your crime.

But, if this letter has not been written by you, then now is the time to state this fact.

I wrote the letter.

And that, my lord, is the case for the defence.

I keep asking which is harder, your head or your arteries?

Stop pressing your luck, you're overdue.

We're all packed and ready. I hope the jury won't take all afternoon.

I concede.

Congratulations, here are your cigars. Not yet.

Come on, it's all over, wrapped up neat and tidy.

What's wrong? It's a little too neat, too tidy, and altogether too symmetrical, that's what's wrong with it.

The jury is back. You're not worried about the verdict?

It's not their judgment that worries me, it's mine.

Come along.

Where's my Wig?


The prisoner will stand up.

Members of the jury, are you all agreed upon your verdict?

We are.

Do you find the prisoner at the bar, Leonard Stephen Vole, guilty or not guilty of the murder of Emily Jane French?

Not guilty, m'lord.


Silence!

Silence!

Leonard Stephen Vole, you have been found not guilty of the murder of Emily Jane French on October 14.

You are hereby discharged and are free to leave the court.

Persons with anything more to do before the queen's justices of oyer and terminer and jail delivery for the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court may depart the area.

Thank you. Yes, we'll talk later. Thank you, Mr Mayhew.

Thank you, Mr Brogan-Moore. Carter.

Thank you, Sir Wilfrid, for everything. You were wonderful.

I'd say we were lucky all around. Yeah.

I have your belongings. Sign the receipt, Mr Vole, and we can release you.

"Mr Vole." They didn't call me Mr when they charged me.

I'll go with you, I have your hat and coat. Let's go before they change their mind!

Chipper, isn't he? An hour ago, he had one foot on the gallows and the other on a banana peel.

You ought to be very proud, Wilfrid. Aren't you?

Not yet. We've disposed of the gallows, but there's still that banana peel somewhere, under somebody's foot.

Every word you said was a lie! You ought to be locked up! Liar!

You'd better wait here until we get rid of that crowd, madam.

Thank you.

Ready, sir? Miss Plimsoll will be waiting.

Let me finish the last of the cocoa while I'm still beyond her jurisdiction.

Would you excuse me, Brogan-Moore, Carter? Thank you.


I never thought you British could get so emotional. Especially in public.

I apologise for my compatriots. It's all right.

I don't mind being called names or pushed around or even kicked in the shin.

But I have a ladder in my last pair of nylons.

In case you are not familiar with our prison regulations, no silk stockings.

Prison? Will I go to prison?

You heard the judge. You will certainly be charged with perjury, tried for it, and to prison you shall go. Well, it won't be for life, will it?

If I were appearing for the prosecution, it would be.

You loathe me, don't you? Like the people outside.

What a wicked woman I am, and how brilliantly you exposed me and saved Leonard's life. The great Sir Wilfrid Robarts did it again.

Well, let me tell you something. You didn't do it alone. You had help.

What are you driving at?

I'm not driving at anything. Leonard is free and we did it.

We? Remember?

When you said that no jury would believe an alibi given by a loving wife, no matter how much she swore he was innocent? That gave me the idea.

What idea?

The idea that I should be a witness, not for my husband, but for the prosecution.

That I should swear Leonard was guilty and that you should expose me as a liar because only then would they believe Leonard was innocent.

So now you know the whole story, Sir Wilfrid.

I'll give yer something to dream about, mister.

Want to kiss me, ducky?

I suspected something, but not that.

Never that! Thank you for the compliment.

It's been a long time since I acted and I never played such a vital role.

All those blue letters!

It took me hours to write them, to invent Max. There never was a Max.

There's never been anyone but Leonard.

My dear, could you not have trusted me, worked with me truthfully and honourably? We would have won.

I could not run that risk. You thought he was innocent.

And you knew he was innocent. I understand.

No, Sir Wilfrid, you do not understand at all.

I knew he was guilty.

That can't be true! No!

Listen to me, once and for all.

He came home after ten, he had blood on his sleeves, he said he had killed the woman, only I could save him. He pleaded.

And you saved him? A murderer?

Again, you don't understand.

I love him.

I told you she was an actress. And a good one.

Leonard!

I knew she'd do something, but I just didn't know what or how.

Leonard, Leonard.

Fooled you completely, didn't she? It was you, Vole, who fooled me.

Oh, easy. Easy. We both got out of this alive, let's stay this way.

Where are your pills? You've made a mockery of English law.

Who did? You got me off and I can't be tried again for this.

That's English law too, isn't it? You can't touch him now. Nobody can.

The scales of justice may tip one way or another, but ultimately they balance out. You'll pay for this.

Ultimately's a long way off. I'd rather pay for it as soon as possible and in cash.

Suppose we double your fee? There'll be lots of money once the will goes through.

I'm not cheap, I want everybody to get something out of it.

There's Janet McKenzie. We'll get her that new hearing aid.

And we'll get you a new one of these. 18-carat gold if they make them.

And when they try you for perjury there'll be £5,000 for the defence.

I don't care, just so we'll be together. You don't know what I've been through.

Standing in the witness box, having to face you, saying I never loved you.

What is it, Leonard?

The luggage is in the car and we've only 20 minutes to catch the boat train.

This is a nice young lady I met during the trial.

Len!

Oh, Len!

Len...

Oh, Len, they've been trying to keep me away. It's had me nearly crazy.

Leonard, who's this girl?

I'm not this girl, I'm his girl.

Tell her, Len.

Leonard, is this the girl who was with you in the travel bureau?

The girl you said you hardly knew, didn't even know her name?

That's right. That's who I am and I know all about you. You're not his wife.

Never have been. You're years older than he is. We've been together for months and we're going away on a cruise, just like they said in court. Tell her, Len.

Yes, Len, tell me yourself. All right, Diana, come along.

You can't, not after what I've done. I won't let you.

I saved your life getting you out of Germany, you got me out of this mess, so we're even. It's over now.

Don't, Leonard! Don't leave me! Don't, Leonard! Don't!

Full yourself together. They'll have you up for perjury.

Don't make it worse or they'll try you as an accessory.

And you know what that means.

I don't care. Let them. Let them try me for perjury, or an accessory, or...

Ready? Or better yet... let them try me for...!

Argh!


Call a doctor. It's no use. No doctor can help now.

What happened? She killed him.

Killed him?

She executed him.

Carter, what have you done with the luggage?

I sent it on ahead to the station, and I've got a cab waiting outside.

A remarkable woman. You can just barely catch the boat train.

Better bring the luggage back, and you can dismiss the cab.

We are not going yet, are we?

Thank you, Miss Plimsoll.

Get Brogan-Moore to my chambers, and Mayhew too.

We're appearing for the defence in the trial of Christine Vole.

Sir Wilfrid?

You've forgotten your brandy.


The management of this theatre suggests that for the greater entertainment of friends who have not yet seen the picture, you will not divulge to anyone the secret of the ending of "Witness For The Prosecution".

Visiontext Subtitles: Katherine Appleby