Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) - Rotten Tomatoes

Judgment at Nuremberg1961

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)



Critic Consensus: Judgment at Nuremberg dramatizes historical atrocity with thoughtfulness and vitality, interrogating complicity and genocide with an all-star cast at the peak of their respective powers.

Judgment at Nuremberg Photos

Movie Info

After the end of World War II, the world gradually became aware of the full extent of the war crimes perpetrated by the Third Reich. In 1948, a series of trials were held in Nuremberg, Germany, by an international tribunal, headed by American legal and military officials, with the intent of bringing to justice those guilty of crimes against humanity. However, by that time most of the major figures of the Nazi regime were either dead or long missing, and in the resulting legal proceedings American judges often found themselves confronting the question of how much responsibility someone held who had "just followed orders." Judgment at Nuremberg is a dramatized version of the proceedings at one of these trials, in which Judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) is overseeing the trials of four German judges -- most notably Dr. Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster) and Emil Hahn (Werner Klemperer) -- accused of knowingly sentencing innocent men to death in collusion with the Nazis. Representing the defense is attorney Hans Rolfe (Maximilian Schell), while prosecuting the accused is U.S. Col. Tad Lawson (Richard Widmark). As the trial goes on, both the visiting Americans and their reluctant German hosts often find themselves facing the legacy of the war, and how both of their nations have been irrevocably changed by it. Judgment at Nuremberg also features notable supporting performances by Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, and Montgomery Clift. Originally written and produced as a play for television, the screen version of Judgment at Nuremberg was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, with Maximilian Schell and Abby Mann taking home Oscars for (respectively) Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


Spencer Tracy
as Judge Dan Haywood
Burt Lancaster
as Ernst Janning
Richard Widmark
as Col. Tad Lawson
Marlene Dietrich
as Mme. Bertholt
Judy Garland
as Irene Hoffman
Montgomery Clift
as Rudolph Petersen
William Shatner
as Capt. Byers
Edward Binns
as Sen. Burkette
Kenneth MacKenna
as Judge Kenneth Norris
Alan Baxter
as Gen. Merrin
Torben Meyer
as Werner Lammpe
Ray Teal
as Judge Curtiss Ives
Martin Brandt
as Frieidrich Hofstetter
Virginia Christine
as Mrs. Halbestadt
Joseph E. Bernard
as Maj. Abe Radnitz
Ben Wright
as Halbestadt
John Wengraf
as Dr. Wieck
Karl Swenson
as Dr. Geuter
Howard Caine
as Wallner
Olga Fabian
as Mrs. Lindnow
Sheila Bromley
as Mrs. Ives
Jana Taylor
as Elsa Scheffler
Paul Busch
as Schmidt
Joseph Crehan
as Spectator
View All

Critic Reviews for Judgment at Nuremberg

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (5)

Tracy delivers a performance of great intelligence and intuition.

November 7, 2007 | Full Review…

Watchable enough on its own terms, but insufferably glib next to something like Shoah.

November 7, 2007 | Full Review…
Top Critic

There are no surprises in the direction, and Abby Mann's screenplay plays the expected tunes, but there's enough conviction on display to reward a patient spectator.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A rare cinematic exploration of the messy, difficult aftermath of evaluating culpability, not only for the Nazi masterminds, but also for innumerable officials and functionaries…

February 11, 2006 | Rating: A | Full Review…

One of American cinema's landmark dramas, as well as one of the most powerful courtroom dramas ever filmed.

January 7, 2022 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Far from a simplistic condemnation of fascism.

September 18, 2021 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Judgment at Nuremberg


An always fascinating courtroom drama whose truly indisputable cinematic strength lies in many unforgettable performances from the entire cast and an extremely complex, thought-provoking script that never ceases to question our perceptions about the case and History itself.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Leaders of the Third Reich are put on trial at Nuremberg with a thoughtful American judge at the helm. The themes in the film are remarkably varied and explored with an impressive degree of depth. How do we judge a people, a society? Can we separate individuals from the society to which they belong? What is the proper response to travesty? Does following orders exonerate those who carry out crimes? This is a film about deep philosophical matters, and it both poses answers and puts the onus on its audience. The natural dignity of Spencer Tracy has never been put to better use, and his performance is matched by the soulful Burt Lancaster and the fiery Maximilian Schell. Overall, usually important films are tedious, but this one is too important to miss.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Judgement at Nuremberg is a classic film about the Nuremberg trials. Brilliantly acted and directed, the film chronicles one of the most important trials of the 20th century. The Nuremberg Trials were the first trials of its kind, and it brought to justice the men responsible of bringing millions of people to their deaths during the Holocaust. The story of the Nuremberg trials has been recounted many times on film, and I've seen quite a few films on the subject. Judgement at Nuremberg is the finest example of the trial. Stanley Kramer delivers stunning picture that boasts a great cast of actors, and the film has a wonderful script that captures the importance of the trial. Kramer directs a wonderful cast including Maximillian Schell, William Shatner, Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster. This is a flawless drama, and a must see for those who love court room drama. The film captivates the viewer by the fact that that this is based on real events and it adds to the experience. I found this film to be one of the better reconstructions of the trials, one that felt more subtle than other films, which for me anyway, felt less over dramatic, which is necessary in order to make a great film. Using great performances and a great story, Stanley Kramer was able to pull off a memorable and engaging drama that still resonates today. If you love classic cinema, Judgement at Nuremberg is a stunning, well acted film that recounts an important part of history. This is the finest portrait of the trials that I have seen, and anyone looking for the definitive portrait of the trials should watch this film. The cast, story, and direction are all top notch, and they make for a truly engaging film experience.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

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