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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 »

Director:

(as R. Milland)

Writers:

(screenplay), (play)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
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Geoffrey Lumsden ...
Major Hugh Beresford Maitland
Norman Barrs ...
Charles Milburn
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Justice Matthew Gregory
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Dr. Wimborne
Sandra Tallent ...
Joanna Crawford (as Sandra Fehr)
Edward Waddy ...
Usher
Maggie Rennie ...
Julia Kelly (as Maggie McGrath)
...
Clerk of Court
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

November 1968 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

20-nen me no fukushû  »

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Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ray Milland returned to the theater for the first time in many years when he starred in Jack Roffey's play on Broadway (where it was as big a success as it had been in London). Milland enjoyed his experience so much that he determined to make a film of it, with himself directing. However, the film was a big flop; although made in 1968, it got no British release until 1970, when it was critically derided. See more »

Quotes

Judge: The jury, in their wisdom, have found you not guilty. When you have recovered from your surprise, you may go.
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User Reviews

 
Thundering Hostility!
1 April 2015 | by (Canada - See all my reviews!) – See all my reviews

"Hostile Witness" is one of those grand, old fashioned British courtroom dramas that can be lots of fun. Fun, but dangerous when it comes to the telling because the 'buy in' as to who did what and why needs at least a little bit of believability, something sadly missing in action here.

Briefly, barrister Ray Milland is accused of murdering an old judge he had accused of running down and killing his daughter. Hitting him extremely hard, he has a mental breakdown followed by a three month convalescence after which he is 'cured.' But returning to work does not necessarily mean putting the past behind him and getting on with life because Milland is arrested and committed to trial. The barrister is now in the dock, and he isn't handling it very well. Let the games begin!

When I first saw "Hostile Witness" on the stage of the Music Box Theatre in New York in 1966, I quite liked it even though I quibbled that some of the actors in general 'and Ray Milland in particular tended to speak too quickly, making themselves a little difficult at times to understand.' Unfortunately things have gone from bad to worse with the screen version, a film that first showed up on United Artist's release schedule in 1968 but was never seen. Little wonder as "Hostile Witness" comes across as a poorly constructed artifact from a bygone era. Thundering and screaming and yelling and bulldozing its way to its laughable conclusion, it is just so out of touch with 1968, which is probably why it never got a North American release. Now its 'old-fashionedness' would probably be okay if the film had been a 'period piece.' But it wasn't. It was ostensibly set in 'modern London.' So why aren't there any references to London's many mod' characters, swinging Carnaby Street, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

I wish I could like "Hostile Witness" because I love British courtroom dramas. But courtroom dramas that make a modicum of sense, contain some colourful characters and have punctuated shading in pace and performances. Again, missing in action all!

Ray Milland, when tightly reigned in by A-list directors like Fritz Lang, John Farrow, Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock can be amazingly effective. But left to his own excesses and he is not only insufferable, but as the film's director he also ensures that so also are many of those around him. Only Sylvia Miles, Norman Barrs, Felix Aylmer and Julian Holloway manage to rise above their material, and even here the results are decidedly mixed.


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