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The Witness Vanishes (1939)

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Railroaded to an insane asylum twenty years ago by four men who had taken over his newspaper, Lucius Marplay, publisher of the London Sun, escapes with the sole intent of murdering the four... See full summary »



(original story "You Can't Hang Me"), (screenplay)
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Title: The Witness Vanishes (1939)

The Witness Vanishes (1939) on IMDb 5.8/10

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Complete credited cast:
Mark Peters
Wendy Barrie ...
Joan Marplay
Bruce Lester ...
Lord Noel Stratton
Forrester Harvey ...
Allistair McNab
Walter Kingsford ...
Amos Craven
J.M. Kerrigan ...
Barlowe Borland ...
Lucus Marplay
Boyd Irwin ...
Sinclair Ellis
Nigel Partridge
Reginald Barlow ...
Sir John Digby
Leyland Hodgson ...
Robert Noble ...
Inspector Wren


Railroaded to an insane asylum twenty years ago by four men who had taken over his newspaper, Lucius Marplay, publisher of the London Sun, escapes with the sole intent of murdering the four men responsible for his plight; Mark Peters, Sinclair Ellis, Nigel Partridge and Amos Craven. One by one, their advance obituaries appear in print, giving the exact day and hour on their impending deaths. And each future-obit becomes true for all but Peters. Also working on the case are Joan Marplay, the daughter who thought her father dead until his escape, and Noel Stretton, the star columnist for the 'Sun.' Plus, a strange character with a Scottish accent, Alistar McNab, of being on the scene at just the right time. Strangely enough, The London Tribune, continues to scoop the 'Sun' on the murders within its own building. Written by Les Adams <>

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Release Date:

22 September 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cuatro sentenciados  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Part of the original Shock Theater package of 52 titles released to television in 1957, followed a year later with Son of Shock, which added 20 more features. See more »

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User Reviews

A disappointing mystery
3 June 2001 | by (Binghamton, New York) – See all my reviews

One of Universal's "Crime Club" series of the thirties, this movie has a few good moments and a decent premise, but it falls apart halfway through the story. I wouldn't be surprised if it worked better as a novel before it was adapted into a movie. An escapee from a lunatic asylum has announced his intentions to kill the four journalists whom he claims stole his newspaper away from him, and one by one his enemies meet their demise. But all is not as it seems.... There is some imagination in the plot, particularly in the second murder, but the imagination dries up when the guilty party leaves a clue so obvious that a six-year-old child would call Scotland Yard immediately. From that point on, the film loses its steam. Edmund Lowe is almost invisible for most of this movie, and the lion's share of the acting is done by the supporting cast. They're capable, but this story isn't very believable, and it's a far cry from Agatha Christie or Ellery Queen.

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