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Silent Witness (1985)

The marriage of a young working-class woman is jeopardized when she witnesses her brother-in-law's participation in a gang rape of an intoxicated woman in a neighborhood bar.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Anna Dunne
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Kevin Dunne
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Michael Dunne
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Patti Mullen
Pat Corley ...
Brad Huffman
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Ted Gunning
Jacqueline Brookes ...
Ma Dunne (as Jacqueline Brooks)
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Joey Caputo
Katie McCombs ...
Jean Dunne
Tom Signorelli ...
Det. Pileggi
Billy Elmer ...
Karl Englehardt
Tom Badal ...
Lou
Etta Cox ...
Det. Johnson
Bob Cresse ...
Dom (as Robert Cresse)
Dennis Harrington ...
Judge Carlin
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Storyline

Michael, son of a prestigious family, and his friends rape the young alcoholic Patty in a bar in front of lots of witnesses, but everyone looks away or leaves. The only usable witness the prosecutors find are Michael's brother Kevin and his wife Anna. Anna is set under severe pressure from both her husband's family and the prosecution before, and even more after, her decision to testify. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

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Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

14 October 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das perfekte Opfer  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

a case of rape
14 October 2002 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

Valerie Bertinelli is Anna Dunne, a Pittsburgh supermarket cashier who with her garbage man husband Kevin (John Savage) witness the rape of Patty Mullen (Melissa Leo) by Kevin's brother Michael (Chris Nash) and his friends at the Happy Hour bar. Anna refuses to testify against Michael because of family pressure, but reconsiders because of Patty and the way she is slandered by the defence at trial.

Bertinelli has some good moments - her anger at how Kevin diminishes Michael's involvement where she yells in reply `He raped her!', the way she faces off against the intrusive physicality of the defence attorney Brad Huffman (Pat Corley), her swagger and intonation of `Aint that a hoot?' when she blackmails the District Attorney into putting her back on the stand to refute claims against her, and her explanation to the jury of why she had sex with an ex-boyfriend Joey Caputo ( Alex McArthur) when the defence uses it against her.

The teleplay by Conrad Bromberg presents Patty as a religious student and alcoholic whose blackouts prevent her from being able to identify the location of her rape. This is why Anna's testimony is so important, and the treatment amusingly has the police stalking her, playing on her guilt, much like Yves Montand stalked Barbra Streisand in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever in the Come Back to Me number, with the televised trial also on at her work. Anna finally erupts with `I'm sick and tired of being pushed around by everybody', to which she is told `Then push back'. Bromberg has Anna rationalise her inaction at the rape by `I had to look to see if it was real', and Bertinelli shows her ghoulish attraction and repulsion by the act. Once we get to Anna's testimony, we marvel at the ingenious of the Dunne family's manipulation of events we have previously seen to their advantage, and the way the focus of the case turns to being more about Anna than Patty, clues us that Kevin will succumb inevitably. That we aren't told of the trial's outcome tells us also that this is not Bromberg's priority.

Director Michael Miller supplies a delicate touch with the relationship between Anna and Kevin, and Patty. Anna's visit to Patty is particularly sensitively handled, so that can forgive Miller's occasional arty jump cuts. The rape is presented as a violent and un-erotic act, and more about the Dunne's reaction, though Patty's handkerchief wringing on the deciding footage that Kevin sees is unintentionally funny. We also question the hostility of Huffman, without objection by the Prosecution or the Judge, and the idea of casting someone as handsome as Nash to play a rapist.


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