Janning, it is revealed, is a well-educated and internationally respected jurist and legal scholar.Haywood seeks to understand how the German people could have turned blind eyes and deaf ears to the crimes of the Nazi regime.Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 American courtroom drama film directed by Stanley Kramer, written by Abby Mann and starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Maximilian Schell, Werner Klemperer, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, William Shatner, and Montgomery Clift.
A key thread in the film's plot involves a "race defilement" trial known as the Feldenstein case.In this fictionalized case, based on the real life Katzenberger Trial, an elderly Jewish man had been tried for having a "relationship" (sexual acts) with an Aryan (German) 16-year-old girl, an act that had been legally defined as a crime under the Nuremberg Laws, which had been enacted by the German Reichstag.Despite being ill with a kidney ailment and other problems exacerbated by his longstanding alcoholism, Spencer Tracy agreed to go to Germany for exterior location shooting and even worked hard when he returned to the studio set in Hollywood.Katharine Hepburn was reportedly with him throughout the production, keeping an eye on him and caring for him.The film centers on a military tribunal led by Chief Trial Judge Dan Haywood (Tracy), before which four German judges and prosecutors (as compared to 16 defendants in the actual Judges' Trial) stand accused of crimes against humanity for their involvement in atrocities committed under the Nazi regime.
The film deals with non-combatant war crimes against a civilian population, the Holocaust, and examines the post-World War II geopolitical complexity of the actual Nuremberg Trials.Correct me if I'm wrong, but it must have taken major cojones to present that kind of message to American filmgoers in 1961. The film describes how the Nazis went about stripping the German judiciary of judges who were known for their objectivity, and replacing them with judges who were appointed based solely on their party loyalties.Would a film of that candor have a chance of being made today? The mind boggles at the implications and yes, the prescience of this well-written, well-played masterpiece.Judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) is the Chief Trial Judge of a three-judge panel that will hear and decide the case against the defendants.Haywood begins his examination by trying to learn how the defendant Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster) could have sentenced so many people to death.In 2013, Judgment at Nuremberg was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".