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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Fun but Should Have Been Better

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
4 December 2010

Fatal Witness, The (1945)

** (out of 4)

If it's from Republic then you know it's going to be cheap and quick. The film tells the story of a young man (George Leigh) who fights with his wealthy aunt before storming out of the house. The next morning she's found murdered so Inspector Trent (Richard Fraser) is on the case and knows her nephew was behind it but it turns out he was in jail all night. This "B" flick runs just under an hour and you can't help but wish that a better director had been assigned to the film because there are actually some fairly good moments here that are wasted. Director Selander doesn't show any signs here of wanting to make anything than something under budget and the reason I say that is because there's really not a single scene where there's any energy nor does anything appear to have been done with any style. The actually story is a pretty good one and especially for Republic standards. The mystery behind who did the killing is kept a secret for the most part, although we get more and more clues before finally getting the big secret told to us with about twenty-minutes to go. From this point on there are a few neat twists and turns that are actually pretty fun but sadly all of this is wasted because of the pacing and overall lack of atmosphere. The pacing is so poor that this 58-minute movie actually felt twice as long and that's not a good thing when you're watching something like this. There's never any real drama or tension, which is a real shame and especially during the downright crazy ending, which carries over into horror territory. The additional twist at the end was a nice one even if it's nearly impossible to believe. Both Leigh and Fraser turn in fine performances and we even get Evelyn Ankers in an important part. Fans of her Universal films will enjoy seeing her here as she has that same charm she always has. THE FATAL WITNESS is pure "B" madness but it's fairly good but you can't help but think it should have been much better with some stronger direction.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A mix of great moments and effects and some dull tricks...

Author: secondtake from United States
14 August 2011

The Fatal Witness (1945)

A Republic Pictures low budget flick, and it shows, even with the opening music which is a strain. However (and this is always the case with a B-movie that has survived the years and made it to Netflix), there are some interesting aspects here, and like most of them it is blessedly short.

One of the nice things here is the standard hook--there's a murder afoot, and we are in on the guessing and analyzing as we go. The acting is decent, the filming straight forward if unexciting. It's a British affair unofficially (officially both the director is American and of course Republic is, too), and like many Brit films, it talks a lot (replacing action with chitcat). But it's not stupid, and you might enjoy poking along with it. It is set in London and Scotland Yard gets to work investigating the death of the old aunt with all her supposed wealth.

The leading suspect is the nephew of the deceased, and he is a sparkle in this musty cast--George Leigh, who only did a handful of films and is a bit affected, but he adds life to the whole thing. As does the maid, and the leading lady, Evelyn Ankers, a Chilean born British actress with the standard convincing credentials (but without anything remarkable about her). Ankers is famous for her roles in many horror films, including the original "Wolf Man" a few years before.

In all, the plot thickens and there is not only murder but blackmail, and London fog, and a decent policeman who is after the leading lady as much as the criminal. Unfortunately he seems to know things too easily. And there is an efficiency to the events that isn't quite dramatic or convincing enough. It is frankly a B-movie through and through. And it has a crazy twist of an ending, sort of worth it just for the trick of it.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

short, fun, and a Republic Studios B all the way

6/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
18 June 2013

Evelyn Ankers stars in "Fatal Witness," a 1945 British B mystery. Ankers plays the ward of an wealthy old woman (Barbara Everest), who distrusts her heir and nephew, John Bedford (George Leigh), and thinks that he stole her emerald broach. He denies it. She winds up dead. Bedford comes under immediate suspicion by the detective in charge, William Trent (Richard Fraser). However, Bedford has an ironclad alibi for the night and time his aunt was killed. Trent still thinks that somehow, he was responsible. Blackmail and another murder follow.

This is a Columbo-type film that is entertaining and uses the usual dry ice to indicate the London fog. Evelyn Akers was an attractive horror film actress who appeared in 'The Wolf Man" and several of the Rathbone "Sherlock Holmes" mysteries. She is pretty and serviceable here, as is the rest of the cast. George Leigh is kind of a Zachary Scott type and appropriately oily.

Enjoyable.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I say old chap.

6/10
Author: BILLYBOY-10 from SAN FRANCISCO, CA
9 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Stuffy rich old aunt, Lady Feruson has had it up to here with her in-residence nephew John whom she is sure stole her emerald brooch so tomorrow she is cutting him out of her will as her major beneficiary. Well, that really ticks John off so he heads for his favorite pub, gets drunk and disorderly and ends up in the clink for the night. Upon his release the next morning he learns someone has bumped old auntie off. Bad show, but since he was in the hoosegow all night he's got an airtight alibi...or does he? Enter dashing, debonair, suave, tall, handsome, perfectly dressed and groomed Scotland Yard Inspector Trent. Trent knows despite his seemingly flawless alibi, nephew John is responsible for auntie's croak. He sets out to prove it and of course he is right because he is dashing, debonair, etc, etc. Suave Trent proves nephew John strangled auntie and woo's and wins the proverbial female romantic interest to boot. All's well that ends well. I love old black and white British pot boilers like this and this one fills the bill simply and perfectly.

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An effective mystery yarn.

Author: GUENOT PHILIPPE (philippe.guenot@dbmail.com) from France
16 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Not much to say about this film. Produced by Republic Studios, directed by the prolific western maker Lesley Selander, short and sharp, this little movie doesn't surprise after all. It takes you awake an hour long. The scheme of the perfect murder, and the perfect alibi too. A rich heir murders his aunt and tries to prevent police force to suspect him. And then a blackmailer is coming. The pain in the ass for the killer. He has to get rid of him...

I love this kind of tales, better than the innocent trying to prove his no guiltiness.

Only there is no action sequences in this film. Much talk. But it's not boring. As all Republic movies.

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