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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:
Geoffrey Lumsden ...
Major Hugh Beresford Maitland
Norman Barrs ...
Charles Milburn
Justice Matthew Gregory
Dr. Wimborne
Sandra Tallent ...
Joanna Crawford (as Sandra Fehr)
Edward Waddy ...
Maggie Rennie ...
Julia Kelly (as Maggie McGrath)
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




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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

November 1968 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

20-nen me no fukushû  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Broadway play of the same title upon which this film is based opened at the Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St., on February 17, 1966 and ran for 156 performances until July 2, 1966. 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

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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