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The Star Witness (1931)

 -  Drama  -  22 August 1931 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 335 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 4 critic

Members of a family witness two murders, but the gang uses threats, violence and kidnapping to try to keep the members from testifying.



(original story & dialogue by)
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Title: The Star Witness (1931)

The Star Witness (1931) on IMDb 6.3/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


Complete credited cast:
District Attorney Whitlock
Frances Starr ...
Ma Leeds
Pa Leeds
Sally Blane ...
Sue Leeds
Ralph Ince ...
'Maxey' Campo
Edward J. Nugent ...
Jackie Leeds
Ned Leeds
Nat Pendleton ...
Big Jack
George Ernest ...
Donny Leeds
Russell Hopton ...
Deputy Thorpe
Charles 'Chic' Sale ...
Private Summerill


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

murder | gang | witness | veteran | perjury | See more »









Release Date:

22 August 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Star Witness  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


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


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

"Chic" Flick
6 April 2010 | by (Ramsey, NJ) – See all my reviews

I love old movies and this was included in a new DVD collection I bought. It is cornball hokum of the first order and I was disappointed in the simplistic plot and the laughable contrivance throughout. I was very surprised with the absence of normally reliable direction by William Wellman, who may have underestimated the entire production or was as disillusioned by the story as I was.

I realize it was the early '30's, but Holy Cow, folks. All concerned ought to have given us some credit for seeing through plot device after plot device. This picture was more for a Saturday kids' matinée than for grown-ups (many of you remember Sat. kid's shows?).

Now let me tell you what was REALLY annoying. It was Grandpa - in the person of Chic Sale. Some readers will say he stole the show but I feel he dragged down my rating of a movie that was barely tolerable to begin with. He was younger than many of the cast members but played an old soldier - with a beard, a limp and a fife - who was given to patriotic tirades at the drop of a hat. In fact, I would have liked to drop his hat several times - with his head in it. He almost spoiled the enjoyment of seeing Walter Huston, one of my all-time favorite actors.

Can't really recommend it other than to see some of the old-time great character actors, and this movie is chock full of them.

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