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An average Los Angeles citizen witnesses a gang murder when he stops to use a telephone. Aware that he is the only witness against them, the gang members seek out his identity and terrorize him and his family to keep him from testifying against them. Only by psychologically playing one gang member against the others is the man able to bring the police to his rescue. Written by
Key Witness verges on the point of hysteria, and lacks credibility throughout, but it's still a riveting drama, directed by Phil Karlson in typically tough fashion.
Most of the performances are over-the-top, but as the witness to a gang stabbing, Jeffrey Hunter gives a standout performance. Without overacting, he brings plenty of energy and intensively to his role, playing an Everyman driven to the breaking point by the mob terrorizing him and his family. Next to Brainstorm (1965), this is his best work.
Although the film may infuriate you with its pat ending, you shouldn't be bored for an instant.
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