American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"Witness for the Prosecution" (1957)


Sir Wilfrid Robarts Examines Christine Helm



Sir Wilfrid Robarts: Mrs. Vole or Mrs. Helm -- which do you prefer to be called?

Christine: It does not matter.

Sir Wilfrid: Does it not? In this country we are inclined to take a rather more serious view of marriage. However, Frau [Mrs.] Helm, it would appear when you first met the prisoner in Hamburg you lied to him about your marital status?

Christine:  I wanted to get out of Germany so --

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

Christine: Yes.

Sir Wilfrid: Thank you. And subsequently, in arranging the marriage, you lied to the authorities?

Christine: I...did not tell the truth to the authorities.

Sir Wilfrid: You lied to them?

Christine: Yes.

Sir Wilfrid: And under ceremony of marriage itself, when you swore to love and to honor and to cherish your husband -- that too was a lie?

Christine: Yes.

Sir Wilfrid: And when the police questioned you about this wretched man who believed himself married and loved, you told them --

Christine: I told them what Leonard [Vole] wanted me to say.

Sir Wilfrid You told them that he was at home with you at 25 minutes past 9:00. And now you say that that was a lie?

Christine:  Yes, a lie!

Sir Wilfrid: And when you said that he had "accidentally" cut his wrists -- again, you lied?

Christine:  Yes!!

Sir Wilfrid: And now today you've told us a new story entirely. The question is Frau Helm, were you lying then or are you lying now? Or are you not in fact a chronic and habitual liar!!!

Mr. Myers : My Lord, is my learned friend to be allowed to bully and insult the witness in this fashion?

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

[Gestures to Sir Wilfred to continue his examination]

Sir Wilfrid: 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.

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HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.