Movieline‘s Louis Virtel has posted a piece titled “50 years Later, What’s The Greatest Scene in Judgment at Nuremberg?” That’s easy, and the answer has nothing to do with any performance. I’m referring to a moment of “pure cinema” that happens in an early courtroom scene, or roughly between 6:05 to 7:11 in the clip below.
German defense counsel Maximillian Schell is delivering his opening remarks in German. We listen to him speak a line or two and then translators providing the English version, back and forth, two or three times. Then the camera announces that the film is shifting gears by sharply zooming in on Schell, and wham — he’s suddenly speaking English. During this one instant director Stanley Kramer puts aside the basics and talks directly to the audience. It’s the only innovative brushstroke in an otherwise conventional (although very well written and acted) drama.