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Hostile Witness (1968)

GP | | Drama | November 1968 (UK)
When the daughter of Simon Crawford, a successful barrister, is killed in what seems to be a hit and run accident, and the police are unable to find the culprit, Crawford swears that he ... See full summary »


(as R. Milland)


(screenplay), (play)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Simon Crawford - Q.C.
Sheila Larkin
Felix Aylmer ...
Justice Osborne
Raymond Huntley ...
John Naylor
Geoffrey Lumsden ...
Major Hugh Beresford Maitland
Norman Barrs ...
Charles Milburn
Percy Marmont ...
Justice Matthew Gregory
Dulcie Bowman ...
Lady Phyllis Gregory
Ewan Roberts ...
Hamish Gillespie
Richard Hurndall ...
Supt. Eley
Ronald Leigh-Hunt ...
Dr. Wimborne
Sandra Tallent ...
Joanna Crawford (as Sandra Fehr)
Edward Waddy ...
Maggie Rennie ...
Julia Kelly (as Maggie McGrath)
Ballard Berkeley ...
Clerk of Court


When the daughter of Simon Crawford, a successful barrister, is killed in what seems to be a hit and run accident, and the police are unable to find the culprit, Crawford swears that he will find the driver of the car, and take revenge. Later when his neighbour is killed in a staged burglary, the blame falls on Crawford, when a letter is found implicating the neighbour in the death of Crawford's daughter. Written by mike.wilson6@btinternet.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

police | based on play | See All (2) »




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Release Date:

November 1968 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

20-nen me no fukushû  »

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Percy Marmont's final film. See more »


Hamish Gillespie: Sheila seems a bit tensed up. What have you been saying to her?
Simon Crawford - Q.C.: Nothing that shouldn't have been said a long time ago. Here, help yourself to a delicious glass of water.
See more »

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User Reviews

Solid, but just too stiff and photographically dull to give it anything worthwhile
8 June 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Hostile Witness (1968)

When Hollywood was shifting to a new mode of movie-making, Britain was apparently still able to make what you might call a routine, early 1960s styled film. And no wonder, with old school Ray Milland as both leading actor and director. It's a modern England, including some terrific Mod fashion on the women (and nice suits on the men, to be fair). But this is a relatively stiff affair, and for a 1968 film, rather old fashioned, pleasurable and unexceptional.

It's worth adding, quickly, that this is a dull film cinematically, too. It's widescreen of course (not a made for television movie) but it's lighted as if for t.v. (low contrast ratio) and the camera is functional, rarely or never an active presence, or even a creative one. This I blame on Milland as much as the cinematographer. It frankly kills even the best scenes, which are blasted with light in an unrealistic and dulling way. Sad. But if you know Milland, who can sometimes be interesting (if never exciting), it makes sense--he's a stiff, snotty type, at least on screen.

But he's not a bad actor, and if there is one consistent strength, in acting, it's actually the director. Which is fair enough. And there is the plot, which I think is supposed to sustain us, even if it's doled out painfully slowly. The curiosity is the sudden death of what might have seemed a potential main character, the beautiful (and well dressed) daughter of the leading man, high powered lawyer Simon Crawford (Milland). You get the sense in this film (more than his few others he directed) that he is aware of Hitchcock's later films (post-Psycho era). As a fellow Brit (Milland was Welsh), there was a commiseration, no doubt (same era, same sense of drama within a relatively false presentation). And as a crime film replete with ordinary folk overwhelmed by terrible facts.

But as a director, Milland is no Hitchcock, which they probably both realized in the rather terrific "Dial M for Murder" which was directed by one master and acted by the other (in one of his best performances). The plot, the strength of the movie, is laid out mostly through drawing room (or law office) conversations. It's slow going, if somewhat rigorous in logic. Milland's stiffness is better suited to the second half of the movie, where he is in the formality of the courtroom. In the end, this is a courtroom drama, with all its argument-based back and forth. The logic is stretched by the end however, with a showdown of shouting convictions and then a last minute surprise (the last ten seconds of the movie) and it's almost laughable.

There are so many better movies, I'd skip this one. To say it's solid on some old-fashioned level isn't really a defense. There's little here to lift it up, very little.

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