6.4/10
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22 user 5 critic

The Star Witness (1931)

TV-G | | Drama | 22 August 1931 (USA)
Members of a family witness two murders, but the gang uses threats, violence and kidnapping to try to keep the members from testifying.

Director:

William A. Wellman

Writers:

Lucien Hubbard (original story), Lucien Hubbard (dialogue)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Walter Huston ... District Attorney Whitlock
Frances Starr ... Ma Leeds
Grant Mitchell ... Pa Leeds
Sally Blane ... Sue Leeds
Ralph Ince ... 'Maxey' Campo
Edward J. Nugent ... Jackie Leeds
Dickie Moore ... Ned Leeds
Nat Pendleton ... Big Jack
George Ernest ... Donny Leeds
Russell Hopton ... Deputy Thorpe
Charles 'Chic' Sale ... Pvt. Summerill
Edit

Storyline

The Leeds family is thrown right in the middle of a war between the cops and gangland when they are the only witnesses to two murders committed by gang kingpin Maxey Campos. Initially positive in their identification of the murderer, their attitudes change when young Donny Leeds is kidnapped by Campos' boys. No amount of threatening with perjury by D.A. Whitlock can get them to tell the truth - except for cantankerous old Grandpa, civil war veteran, who berates his family for failing to do their civic duty, whatever the cost. Though having his doubts as to the credibility of his star witness, Whitlock is nevertheless taken aback when he learns Grandpa has disappeared just before he is to testify. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gang | murder | witness | veteran | duty | See All (29) »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

TV-G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

22 August 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Star Witness See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Variety" reported that the film was rushed into release because of a gang shooting in Harlem in which several children were shot and the police could not get witnesses to talk. The Motion Picture Herald also reported that Warner Bros. gave the proceeds of the first two performances at The Winter Garden to the families of the children who were shot during gang warfare in Little Italy. See more »

Goofs

Two men are shot in the back while running away, but they clutch their chests as they fall down. See more »

Connections

Version of The Man Who Dared (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Yankee Doodle
(ca. 1755) (uncredited)
Traditional music of English origin
Played often on a fife by Charles 'Chic' Sale
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"After all, blood's thicker than government pea soup."
10 October 2015 | by utgard14See all my reviews

A family witnesses a gangster commit murder and are then threatened into keeping quiet in this fine Pre-Coder directed by William Wellman. Walter Huston plays the tough district attorney who pressures the family to testify. Huston made a lot of great movies, particularly in the early '30s. He's good in this but he's outdone by scene stealer Chic Sale as the Civil War veteran grandfather who insists upon doing his civic duty and fighting back against the criminals, no matter the cost. He's hammy but in the best way. Dickie Moore is very cute as one of the little kids. The rest of the cast is solid, including Grant Mitchell, Sally Blane, Nat Pendleton, and Ralph Ince as the gangster killer. It's a movie made in the early sound era so it's a little creaky. There's also some preachiness that seems to be off-putting to some reviewers but didn't bother me much as it's all well-intentioned and understandable, especially in the time in which it was made. It's a good movie that will please most fans of the kinds of urban crime dramas WB made so well. Go into it with the right frame of mind and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.


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