THE STAR WITNESS
(director: William A. Wellman; screenwriters: story by Lucien Hubbard & Bud Barsky/Lucien Hubbard; cinematographer: James Van Trees; editor: Harold McLernon; music: Alois Reiser; cast: Walter Huston (DA Whitlock), Chic Sale (Grandpa Summerville), Frances Starr (Ma Leeds), Grant Mitchell (Pa Leeds), Sally Blane (Sue Leeds), Edward J. Nugent (Jackie Leeds), Dickie Moore (Donny Leeds), Ralph Ince (Maxey Campo); Runtime: 68; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: ; Warner Bros.; 1931)
“Good performances keep things watchable.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
William A. Wellman(“The Hatchet Man”/”Wings”/”Night Nurse”) helms this effective crime drama about a typical large American family who witness a gangland slaying and are afraid the law won’t help them if they testify. It’s written by Lucian Hubbard and is based on his story that is co-written with Bud Barsky. Good performances keep things watchable. The popular film was remade in 1939 as The Man Who Dared.
The gangster “Maxey” Campo (Ralph Ince) murders two men in the street. The Leeds’ family (mother-Frances Starr & father-Grant Mitchell), from their apartment, witness the shooting. On the street, Grandpa Summerville (Chic Sale), a Civil War vet, is also a witness. He’s on a 48 hour pass from a soldier’s home. The gang kidnaps the youngest son of the family (Dickie Moore) and they become too frightened to testify.
Walter Huston is the anxious DA, who wants to protect the witnesses and prosecute the ruthless thug.
The story was inspired by a real-life incident that took place in Harlem, where in a gang shooting several children were shot and no witnesses emerged.
REVIEWED ON 10/13/2015 GRADE: B-