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The Star Witness (1931)

 -  Drama  -  22 August 1931 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 345 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.

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Writers:

(original story), (dialogue), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Star Witness (1931)

The Star Witness (1931) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
District Attorney Whitlock
Frances Starr ...
Ma Leeds
...
Pa Leeds
...
Sue Leeds
Ralph Ince ...
'Maxey' Campo
Edward J. Nugent ...
Jackie Leeds
...
Ned Leeds
...
Big Jack
George Ernest ...
Donny Leeds
Russell Hopton ...
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 more »

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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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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 »

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

 
A Very 'Original' And Entertaining Film
13 September 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is one of those films that looks so "dated" that being that way is part of the fun. You see and hear things you would NEVER see or hear on the silver screen today. Some of that is good; some it too corny for words, some of it bad (depending on your viewpoints on certain cultural issues.)

For instance, in this short (68 minutes) 1931 film you have:

The grandpa of the family that is featured in this story extolling the value of patriotism and why one should speak up against criminals for the good of the United States (picture that in today's films!)

A district attorney (Walter Huston) almost begging for death penalty sentences and the populace shown as supporting it 100 percent (once again, picture that in modern-day movies.)

Along the way you have some shocking violence, such as a young boy being picked up a few times and literally thrown head first into a closet, and his father being picked up and swung repeatedly head-first into a wall. This is a tough stuff, to say the least.

Yet the film is dotted with comedy, mostly by the patriotic grandpa, memorably played by Charles "Chic" Sales. There are a bunch of laughs for all those who view this unique crime film. And, for soft touches, there are the two young boys, one of whom - Dickie Moore - went on to become a pretty famous child actor in his day. Here, he is just a little tyke of about 5 years of age who, understandably, is far from being a polished actor, but you can see stardom for him on the horizon. In fact, he did just that the following year with a solid performance in "Blonde Venus," starring Marlene Dietrich.

Anyway, this is an entertaining film because of an effective mixture of violence, comedy and sentimentality....and it has a nice feel-good ending and a thought-provoking message. It was up for an Academy Award, too, for "Best Writing, Original Story." I am sorry to say it is only available for viewing on cable TV as it has never been put out on VHS or DVD.....and that's a shame.


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