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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
Good acting trumps script defects in harrowing suspenser.
While it's true that the plot is frequently hampered by preposterous turns, this emerges as a genuinely harrowing thriller, largely owing to Jeffrey Hunter's conviction in the title role, as well as comely Patricia Crowley's interpretation as his panicked suburban wife.
It is to director Karlson's credit that he can take the improbable and still draw one in, such as the scene where Mr. Hunter's young son is shot by one of the thug's on the school playground--and one goes quite limp with horror.
And for all those doubting the veracity of witness retribution--try reading the daily newspapers.
However, Cinemasope is inappropriate for such an intimate story, and the cinematographer here is usually incapable of effectively composing for such a wide frame.
Look for Ted Knight in a bit as Dennis Hopper's defense attorney.
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