6.4/10
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The Star Witness (1931)

TV-G | | Drama | 22 August 1931 (USA)
Members of a family witness two murders, but the gang uses threats, violence and kidnapping to try to keep the members from testifying.

Director:

Writers:

(original story), (dialogue)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Frances Starr ...
Ma Leeds
...
Pa Leeds
...
Sue Leeds
...
'Maxey' Campo
...
Jackie Leeds
...
Ned Leeds
...
Big Jack
...
Donny Leeds
...
Deputy Thorpe
Charles 'Chic' Sale ...
Private Summerill
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Storyline

The Leeds family is thrown right in the middle of a war between the cops and gangland when they are the only witnesses to two murders committed by gang kingpin Maxey Campos. Initially positive in their identification of the murderer, their attitudes change when young Donny Leeds is kidnapped by Campos' boys. No amount of threatening with perjury by D.A. Whitlock can get them to tell the truth - except for cantankerous old Grandpa, civil war veteran, who berates his family for failing to do their civic duty, whatever the cost. Though having his doubts as to the credibility of his star witness, Whitlock is nevertheless taken aback when he learns Grandpa has disappeared just before he is to testify. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gang | murder | witness | veteran | duty | See All (29) »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

TV-G
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

22 August 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Principal Testemunha  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Variety reported that the film was rushed into release because of a gang shooting in Harlem in which several children were shot and the police could not get witnesses to talk. The Motion Picture Herald also reported that Warner Bros. gave the proceeds of the first two performances at The Winter Garden to families of 5 children who were shot by gang warfare in Little Italy. See more »

Goofs

Two men are shot in the back while running away, but they clutch their chests as they fall down. See more »

Connections

Version of The Man Who Dared (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Yankee Doodle
(ca. 1755) (uncredited)
Traditional music of English origin
Played often on a fife by Charles 'Chic' Sale
See more »

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User Reviews

Lively
26 September 2015 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Smooth programmer from that gangster mecca of the 30's, Warner Bros.- First National. Chic Sale's boisterous old man steals the show as a Civil War vet who's not about to surrender to age. (Actually, Sale's still in his 40's.) The actor spreads it on pretty thick, while the rest of the cast remains surprisingly low-key for the time. As the hard-driving DA, Huston's his usual authoritative self, lending the movie a sense of needed gravity.

Except for the shootout scene, the movie's more a family drama than anything else. Witnesses to the shootout, the Leeds' family, has to decide whether to testify against the chief gangster or endanger the one young son who's being held hostage. In short, is their first duty to community or to family. The dilemma generates the movie's main suspense. My favorite scene, however, is the family dinner where the two little boys see who can out pig-stick the other as the dishes get passed around. It's a lively, well-directed bit of nonsense.

It's easy to miss what Grandpa' s (Sale) sometimes saying when he orates on the duties of being an American. His repeated references to the problems "foreigners" are making sounds rather contemporary (2015). But for Gramps, it sounds like he's blaming Italians since the gangster "Campo" is the one making problems for his family. But then in 1931, big Al Capone was making headlines as the racketeer boss of Chicago. So he may be the real reference behind Gramps' innuendo. Otherwise, the old man makes a pretty good case for putting community first.

That aside, the movie's a generally entertaining, smoothly directed artifact of the period.


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