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... See full summary »
The editor of a New York exploitation newspaper meets the wife he had abandoned years ago, while using another name, at a LonelyHearts ball sponsored by his newspaper. She threatens to ... See full summary »
A commando unit is dropped behind the German lines in Italy and its mission is to blow up a strategic dam. However, the unit is ambushed and only its leader survives. He is picked up by a ... See full summary »
Sherry Conley, a street tough and cynical woman with an unhappy family background, is taken from prison to a hotel, where the DA tries to convince her to testify against a mobster. Sherry ... See full summary »
Edward G. Robinson,
During the Korean War, Matt saves the life of his buddy, Vince, who promises that someday he'll repay Matt by cutting him in on a million dollars. Eight years later Matt is in the midst of ... See full summary »
On leave in a shore side town, Johnny becomes interested in a young dark haired woman. They meet and he learns that she plays a mermaid in the local carnival. After strange occurrences, ... See full summary »
Milton Higby, an inventor of gadgets that don't sell finds himself accused of a crime he didn't commit---the killing of a girl he had just met---, and takes to the open road with the police... See full summary »
A young bride's marital bliss is replaced by shades of suspicion when she suspects that her husband is trying to starve his young son to death in order to claim an inheritance the boy is ... See full summary »
Two pathologists -- a veteran department head (Fredric March) whose perspective has been shaped by years of red tape and day-to-day frustrations, and his new assistant (Ben Gazarra), a ... See full summary »
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, based on Frank Kane's novel of the same name, is sort of the successor to MGM's 1955 BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, but with more acting flourishes (mostly by the supporting cast) and realistic settings. By 1960, delinquency and gang violence were recognized as an unpleasant reality outside of "old" urban centers such as New York -- but also not always (or often) involving such well-scrubbed suburbanites as those depicted in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. Though its script stumbles in some notable places (a few involving basic logic -- except that this was a new world for many of the people who would have been watching in 1960), KEY WITNESS is a good depiction of the law abiding running up against the sociopathic lawless, with horrendous consequences for all concerned. The movie also plays, in somewhat naive fashion, on a racial angle in its plot and characterizations -- this is an odd touch, considering that the entire gang in Kane's book, if memory serves, was African-American. (Additionally, the book is more violent and also a lot more raunchy in terms of the Ruby character, who alludes to the idea of explaining her assault on the witness's wife because of a (rejected) lesbian overture in a courthouse ladies' room). The movie ends a little too squeaky clean and optimistically, not that differently from THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, but is more harrowing along the way. Along with releases such as THE SUBTERRANEANS, which was done around the same time, it was all a really interesting venture by MGM into territory far from its roots in high art and Americana, and an admission that the 1940s were long-gone. And anyone who likes the movie should check out the novel.
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