The Star Witness (1931)

67-68 mins | Drama | 22 August 1931

Director:

William A. Wellman

Cinematographer:

James Van Trees

Editor:

Harold McLernon

Production Designer:

John Hughes

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The Var review and some other contemporary sources listed the film's title as Star Witness . According to Var , Warner Bros. rushed the film into release in response to a gang shooting in Harlem, in which several children were shot and police were unable to get witnesses to talk. Actor Charles "Chic" Sale originally had developed his old man character in vaudeville. The Star Witness marked his first appearance in a sound film. MPH noted that Warner Bros. turned over the entire proceeds of the first two performances of the film at New York's Winter Garden Theatre to the families of five children who were victims of gang bullets in New York's little Italy. Lucien Hubbard received an Academy Award nomination for writing. FD noted that Walter Huston replaced Jack Holt and Ralph Ince replaced Lucien Prival. The film was remade by Warner Bros. in 1939 as The Man Who Dared (see ... More Less

The Var review and some other contemporary sources listed the film's title as Star Witness . According to Var , Warner Bros. rushed the film into release in response to a gang shooting in Harlem, in which several children were shot and police were unable to get witnesses to talk. Actor Charles "Chic" Sale originally had developed his old man character in vaudeville. The Star Witness marked his first appearance in a sound film. MPH noted that Warner Bros. turned over the entire proceeds of the first two performances of the film at New York's Winter Garden Theatre to the families of five children who were victims of gang bullets in New York's little Italy. Lucien Hubbard received an Academy Award nomination for writing. FD noted that Walter Huston replaced Jack Holt and Ralph Ince replaced Lucien Prival. The film was remade by Warner Bros. in 1939 as The Man Who Dared (see above). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
26 May 31
p. 6.
Film Daily
3 Jun 31
p. 6.
Film Daily
8 Jun 31
p. 7.
Film Daily
28 Jun 31
p. 4.
Film Daily
2 Aug 31
p. 10.
International Photographer
1 Oct 31
p. 31.
Motion Picture Herald
25 Jul 31
p. 28.
Motion Picture Herald
8 Aug 31
p. 66.
New York Times
4 Aug 31
p. 19.
Variety
4 Aug 31
p. 21.
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 August 1931
Production Date:
11475
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 August 1931
Copyright Number:
LP2398
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
67-68
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

The Leeds family--Abby and George, their children Sue, Jackie, Donny and Ned, and Abby's father, Private Summerill, a Civil War veteran--witness a gang shooting of an informer and a policeman. The killer escapes through their house and everyone gets a good look at his face. District Attorney Whitlock asks the Leeds to identify the murderer, and they all pick out Maxey Campo's picture and agree to testify at the trial. As soon as the news comes out, however, George is kidnapped from work by Campo's men. The men first offer George a bribe not to testify, and when he refuses to back down, they beat him up. Whitlock puts the family under house detention to protect them and Sue is escorted to work by the police. The family grows restive under the restraint. Donny, the middle son, is determined not to miss his baseball game and sneaks out of the house, enabling the gangsters to kidnap him. They threaten to kill the child if anyone in the family testifies against Campo. Whitlock tries to find Donny, but in the meantime, everyone except Summerill refuses to take the stand. Summerill insists that it is their civic duty to testify, no matter what the cost to them, in order to keep gangsters off the streets. Although Sue claims that no one will believe his testimony as he was drunk at the time, Whitlock decides that they have no choice but to put Summerill on the stand. Just before his turn, Summerill escapes from the courtroom to look for Donny. He walks down the streets of the neighborhood where Donny is ... +


The Leeds family--Abby and George, their children Sue, Jackie, Donny and Ned, and Abby's father, Private Summerill, a Civil War veteran--witness a gang shooting of an informer and a policeman. The killer escapes through their house and everyone gets a good look at his face. District Attorney Whitlock asks the Leeds to identify the murderer, and they all pick out Maxey Campo's picture and agree to testify at the trial. As soon as the news comes out, however, George is kidnapped from work by Campo's men. The men first offer George a bribe not to testify, and when he refuses to back down, they beat him up. Whitlock puts the family under house detention to protect them and Sue is escorted to work by the police. The family grows restive under the restraint. Donny, the middle son, is determined not to miss his baseball game and sneaks out of the house, enabling the gangsters to kidnap him. They threaten to kill the child if anyone in the family testifies against Campo. Whitlock tries to find Donny, but in the meantime, everyone except Summerill refuses to take the stand. Summerill insists that it is their civic duty to testify, no matter what the cost to them, in order to keep gangsters off the streets. Although Sue claims that no one will believe his testimony as he was drunk at the time, Whitlock decides that they have no choice but to put Summerill on the stand. Just before his turn, Summerill escapes from the courtroom to look for Donny. He walks down the streets of the neighborhood where Donny is being held, playing his fife. Donny hears the instrument and recognizing it, throws his baseball through the window. Summerill brings the police, who shoot it out with the gangsters. Donny is rescued just in time to help Summerill convict Campo in court. Campo is executed. +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
Domestic, Gangster


Subject

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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