|KEY WITNESS (director: Phil Karlson; screenwriters: based on the novel by Frank Kane/Alfred Brenner/Sidney Michaels; cinematographer: Harold E. Wellman; editor: Ferris Webster ; music: Charles Wolcott; cast: Jeffrey Hunter (Fred Morrow), Dennis Hopper (Cowboy), Johnny Nash (Apple), Susan Harrison (Ruby), Joby Baker (Muggles), Corey Allen (Magician), Pat Crowley (Ann Morrow), Frank Silvera (Det. Rafael Torno), Bruce Gordon (Arthur Robbins); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Pandro S. Berman/Kathryn Hereford; MGM;1960)|
problem was it never hit a nerve with me."
by Dennis Schwartz
Karlson ("Scandal Sheet"/"The Phenix
City Story"/"Kansas City Confidential") shoots this
melodrama in black and white. It touches on such things
as outlaw biker culture, drugs and racism. It's based
on the novel by Frank Kane and is written in a B movie
paranoid mode by Alfred Brenner and
downtown LA, the suburban married visitors (Jeffrey
Hunter & Pat Crowley) while using a payphone
witness a teen gang, led by the sadistic Cowboy
(Dennis Hopper), stab another teen to death. The
citizen's reporting of this incident to the police is
the only one despite many other witnesses. It results
in the gang terrorizing the good citizen and
threatening him with violence if he testifies.
melodrama gets wrapped up too neatly for my taste, as
the eyewitness plays the gang members against one
another and by using psychological warfare enables the
police to capture them.
time of its release, crime was a major problem in the
big cities and witnesses were often too afraid to
testify. This topical film struck a nerve with the
public and it resulted in a box office hit. My problem
was it never hit a nerve with me.
REVIEWED ON 4/9/2015 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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