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This was my second viewing of Witness to Murder (saw it on TCM several years ago.)  I enjoyed it just as much this time around.  It's very engaging, never boring.

Quibbles:  Eddie was right when he mentioned in his intro that there were glaring plot flaws. One of them was this: When Richter, realizing the police are coming over to investigate his apartment, removes the body and  hauls it into the corridor, he hides it in the empty apartment next door.  (This apartment is up for lease.)  The door is unlocked, he just opens it and drags the body in.

Next day, Cheryl, suspicious that he's done something along those lines, pretends she's interested in renting the apartment .  The superintendent takes her to it and unlocks the door !    How come the empty apartment was locked when Cheryl asked to see it, but open and conveniently available for Richter the night before?   Plot flaw !

I also agree with those who've noted that it's unlikely that Cheryl, terrified and fleeing the homicidal Richter, would have ascended that building under construction.  By that time a big crowd had gathered,  there's safety in numbers, she would have been a lot safer just staying in the crowd. But of course, frantically climbing a precarious high structure to escape a determined pursuer  (sometimes the bad guy, sometimes the cops) is a familiar scenario in old movies.  It allows for such dramatic endings.  I do wish Richter had not fallen to his death, but been caught and arrested by Detective Larry.  That way, Richter's story would have come out, and everything Cheryl claimed to have happened would have been verified.  I know we're supposed to think that the police did indeed believe her after that, but it would have been gratifying, somehow, to have heard Richter confirm as true all the things she said he did, including  admitting that he'd snuck into her apartment and typed those notes himself.

It's scary to think how easily a person, especially a woman, could be certified as insane and imprisoned in an asylum, based on pretty much nothing sometimes. 

By the way, I always notice when Black people show up in old movies, because it happens so rarely.  I liked the Black lady and her song - she was the least weird of the inmates Cheryl shared a ward with.  Not a bad voice,  either.

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My favorite moment in Witness To Murder was at 1.16 when Jesse White did the dum-de-dum-dum main title theme from Dragnet and said a line similar to what Joe Friday would say. The story went off the rails for me when Sanders spouts Nazi rhetoric and rants in German.  Instead of being a gaslighting ladykiller, he's now a super-villain. The music seemed similar to the Edward G. Robinson flick Vice Squad (1953). Sure enough, it was by the same composer Herschel Burke Gilbert. He did the famous theme for TV's The Rifleman. The ending also didn't work for me. Where did all these people come from in a few minutes? Barbara looks down and there's a thousand people looking up at her on the building. With all that, you still can't go wrong with Stanwyck and Sanders.

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4 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

This was my second viewing of Witness to Murder (saw it on TCM several years ago.)  I enjoyed it just as much this time around.  It's very engaging, never boring.

Quibbles:  Eddie was right when he mentioned in his intro that there were glaring plot flaws. One of them was this: When Richter, realizing the police are coming over to investigate his apartment, removes the body and  hauls it into the corridor, he hides it in the empty apartment next door.  (This apartment is up for lease.)  The door is unlocked, he just opens it and drags the body in.

Next day, Cheryl, suspicious that he's done something along those lines, pretends she's interested in renting the apartment .  The superintendent takes her to it and unlocks the door !    How come the empty apartment was locked when Cheryl asked to see it, but open and conveniently available for Richter the night before?   Plot flaw !

I also agree with those who've noted that it's unlikely that Cheryl, terrified and fleeing the homicidal Richter, would have ascended that building under construction.  By that time a big crowd had gathered,  there's safety in numbers, she would have been a lot safer just staying in the crowd. But of course, frantically climbing a precarious high structure to escape a determined pursuer  (sometimes the bad guy, sometimes the cops) is a familiar scenario in old movies.  It allows for such dramatic endings.  I do wish Richter had not fallen to his death, but been caught and arrested by Detective Larry.  That way, Richter's story would have come out, and everything Cheryl claimed to have happened would have been verified.  I know we're supposed to think that the police did indeed believe her after that, but it would have been gratifying, somehow, to have heard Richter confirm as true all the things she said he did, including  admitting that he'd snuck into her apartment and typed those notes himself.

It's scary to think how easily a person, especially a woman, could be certified as insane and imprisoned in an asylum, based on pretty much nothing sometimes. 

By the way, I always notice when Black people show up in old movies, because it happens so rarely.  I liked the Black lady and her song - she was the least weird of the inmates Cheryl shared a ward with.  Not a bad voice,  either.

Knowing the way the film was going, I think George Sanders would have been able to convince the crowd of people that Barbara Stanwyck was, in fact, loopy and worthy of committal at your friendly, neighborhood insane asylum.  So, I don't see that part of the film containing a plot flaw.  Stanwyck decided to take a chance and head up the staircase of the building under construction, if anything, to show that American women in heels were more agile than ex-German Nazi sympathizers in flats.  I think she knew in the back of her mind that her love interest with a linebacker's build would be able to 'take' her tormenter once push came to shove.  Good movie, which I had never seen before.  I will say too that George Sanders aged much better than his brother, Tom Conway.  I saw Conway in "Voodoo Woman" a few weeks ago, and I hardly recognized him from his days of playing 'The Falcon'.  He looked pretty bad.

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18 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

Next day, Cheryl, suspicious that he's done something along those lines, pretends she's interested in renting the apartment .  The superintendent takes her to it and unlocks the door !    How come the empty apartment was locked when Cheryl asked to see it, but open and conveniently available for Richter the night before?   Plot flaw !

Well, not necessarily. The apartment door could well have been left unlocked by some workmen who appear by the ladder to have been working in there. Rather convenient for Sanders, I admit, but not inconceivable. And if the doors in that building had the same kind of push button latch locks that Stanwyck's did across the street it would have been an easy thing for Sanders to lock the door after he retrieved the body.

14 hours ago, jameselliot said:

The story went off the rails for me when Sanders spouts Nazi rhetoric and rants in German.  Instead of being a gaslighting ladykiller, he's now a super-villain.

I agree. The story went completely over-the-top in the scene that turned Sanders into a Nazi spouting arch fiend. It really wasn't necessary.

Having said that I still thought George Sanders was extremely good in this film, both smooth and smarmy. It all went typically Hollywood melodramatic, however, with that rescue the lady from the top of the building climax, however, along with the villain predictably falling to his death.

I will say, however, that John Alton's photography does have its moments, that opening shot of the moon with the clouds, the shot of Sanders lighting a cigarette in the dark in Stanwyck's apartment, as well as the lighting on his face when he went all Nazi.

When it comes to plot flaws, however, can anyone tell me how Sanders got into Stanwyck's apartment the second time? The first time, as we know, he did so by pushing the latch button in her door lock. Fine. But how did he get in the second time when he shocked her by lighting that cigarette in the dark and was then going to push her out a window?

Still, Witness to Murder was a pretty good film, with nice professional turns by both Stanwyck and Sanders and some strong photography. Superficially, story-wise, I can see why some might compare it to Rear Window but that's about it. The Hitchcock film is a suspense masterpiece, in my opinion, in a class as entertainment far superior to anything I saw in this drama.

Oh, one more thing. When is the last time you saw a woman running through the streets followed by a crowd of fifty strangers or so chasing after her? Only in a marathon. One person maybe. Two, long shot but perhaps. But that many? Only in the movies.

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On 1/17/2021 at 2:46 PM, misswonderly3 said:

It's scary to think how easily a person, especially a woman, could be certified as insane and imprisoned in an asylum, based on pretty much nothing sometimes. 

 

Absolutely. That is a chilling scene in the film because it could happen in real life. In fact, he has. Think of Frances Farmer, as a famous illustration.

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On 1/17/2021 at 10:09 AM, Bronxgirl48 said:

WITNESS TO MURDER...

...I will say that George Sanders gives a fabulous performance.  The scene where his character, in talking-villain mode, starts spouting German to Babs is supremely creepy.   Lots of eerie shots -- the wind-swept apartment canopy, plus certain camera angles.   But the mental ward was a bit over the top for me -- quite campy, in fact.  

And which I believe may be the only time in any film in which I've ever witnessed George going bombastically ballistic while delivering his dialogue, albeit with those words being said in German and as your stereotypical crazed Nazi.

(...nope, seems to me even when he's losing his cool in some movie, he's always had this unique ability to both talk under his breath and yet still at the same time project his words, and which then still quite effectively convey the emotions behind them)

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Pretty entertaining, if nothing very original. I always get a kick out of the villain who instead of

staying as far away from the police investigation as possible keeps interfering, hoping to implicate

the innocent party even further. It rarely works and if it were me I would choose the first option

of keeping my big trap shut. Hiding the corpse in an empty apartment that is being renovated

occurs once in a while in movies and I think it happened on Perry Mason once or twice. It is easier

as a temporary cubbyhole than dragging the thing around and trying to immediatelydispose of

it somewhere else. Even though Gary Merrill often looks like the initial stage of a wolfman transition,

I like him as an actor. He is good playing the everyday guy with a chip on his shoulder or some other

problem that he can't seem to solve. I liked him as the somewhat down at the heels cop, plus how many

cops, even LA ones, are somewhat conversant with Nietzsche and Hegel. While it's a solid film, I can't

put it in the same league as Rear Window. The latter is a pretty close to perfect while the former is

a good take on your standard crime flick.

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2 hours ago, Vautrin said:

...Even though Gary Merrill often looks like the initial stage of a wolfman transition... I liked him as the somewhat down at the heels cop, plus how many

cops, even LA ones, are somewhat conversant with Nietzsche and Hegel. While it's a solid film, I can't

put it in the same league as Rear Window. The latter is a pretty close to perfect while the former is

a good take on your standard crime flick.

Good point, but in this case probably best explained by the thought that his character was taking night courses at UCLA in order to get his law degree.

(...and among its curriculum was probably Philosophy 101)

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4 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Good point, but in this case probably best explained by the thought that his character was taking night courses at UCLA in order to get his law degree.

(...and among its curriculum was probably Philosophy 101)

The L.A. cops that I have encountered were more like these two.   I asked Pete to return my weed since,, hey,,,, didn't you enjoy the stuff in The Sweet Smell of Success,   and I'm also a jazz guitar player,,,,  but he decided to keep-for-himself.

 

Adam-12 - Wikipedia

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27 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

The L.A. cops that I have encountered were more like these two.   I asked Pete to return my weed since,, hey,,,, didn't you enjoy the stuff in The Sweet Smell of Success,   and I'm also a jazz guitar player,,,,  but he decided to keep-for-himself.

 

Adam-12 - Wikipedia

LOL

Yeah, I'll bet that was back when Officer Malloy had been temporarily assigned to the Hollenbeck Division, and before the Christopher Commission would change their ways of doing things there.

(...and which now leads me to the following question: What the hell was a nice Orange County boy like you doin' in that seedy part of town at the time anyway???)  ;)

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18 minutes ago, Dargo said:

LOL

Yeah, I'll bet that was back when Officer Malloy had been temporarily assigned to the Hollenbeck Division, and before the Christopher Commission would change their ways of doing things there.

(...and which now leads me to the following question: What the hell was a nice Orange County boy like you doin' in that seedy part of town at the time anyway???)  ;)

Going to the Forum for a concert.    Yea,   the only time I was ever busted,  was as a minor,  going to a Blue Oyster Cult concert when L.A. had police chief Ed Davis.   (most of us young punks just called him Adolf since he was hardcore).

But I wasn't charged,  since it was an illegal search and seizure.      I just keep repeating parts of the US Constitution until my legal guardian, who was "cool" picked-me up.  The cops were glad to get me out of there!

 

  

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3 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Going to the Forum for a concert.    Yea,   the only time I was ever busted,  was as a minor,  going to a Blue Oyster Cult concert when L.A. had police chief Ed Davis.   (most of us young punks just called him Adolf since he was hardcore).

But I wasn't charged,  since it was an illegal search and seizure.      I just keep repeating parts of the US Constitution until my legal guardian, who was "cool" picked-me up.  The cops were glad to get me out of there!

 

  

So then it sounds as if you never made that concert then, eh?!

(...and if not, then I guess my asking if they played with enough cowbell that night would be a complete waste of my time here then, huh)  ;)

 

 

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I had to wait to see both films on demand, it's too late for me to stay up especially for these last two films on Saturday night, and I'm working on Sundays this time of the year. Especially since I have seen The Glass Key before. Lake always looks like she just got out of high school, and never liked Ladd all that much. Crazy Bendix is the best part of The Glass Key.

I don't remember seeing Witness to Murder before but thought the cinematography was the best part. Liked that overhead shot of the building entrance with the flapping canopy, the sound effects were probably all foley. It did have a lot of plot absurdities and implausibilities also, plus Barbara had that same short unflattering hairstyle that plagued Ann Sheridan in Woman on the Run, Rita Hayworth in Lady From Shanghai, etc., etc.

 

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One other thing both Rear Window and The Window were based on Cornell Woolrich stories. Witness to Murder seems to be ripping off Woolrich also. Come to think of it I think there's a fourth film with a similar plot of a crime observed through a window but the title escapes me.

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44 minutes ago, Cigarjoe cellph said:

One other thing both Rear Window and The Window were based on Cornell Woolrich stories. Witness to Murder seems to be ripping off Woolrich also. Come to think of it I think there's a fourth film with a similar plot of a crime observed through a window but the title escapes me.

That's probably because that fourth one has a real long title CJ, and so it's perfectly understandable that the title of it escapes you here.

It was 1958's Witnessing a Murder from the Window in the Rear.

(...but now who starred in it is "escaping" ME, but I THINK one of 'em was that guy who you'd always see guesting on the old Perry Mason show...YOU know, what's-his-name!)

;)

 

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21 hours ago, Dargo said:

Good point, but in this case probably best explained by the thought that his character was taking night courses at UCLA in order to get his law degree.

(...and among its curriculum was probably Philosophy 101)

Good detective work there, Dargo. But maybe it was also an LA thing. I recall an episode of Dragnet about

a nutcase who was much influenced by certain 19th century French poets. And wouldn't you know it, old

Joe Friday knew all about them from Baudelaire to Verlaine.  Not so dumb da dumb dumb after all.

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19 minutes ago, Vautrin said:

Good detective work there, Dargo. But maybe it was also an LA thing. I recall an episode of Dragnet about

a nutcase who was much influenced by certain 19th century French poets. And wouldn't you know it, old

Joe Friday knew all about them from Baudelaire to Verlaine.  Not so dumb da dumb dumb after all.

This wouldn't have been when our intrepid Sergeant had that almost whole episode long debate with the character modeled after Timothy Leary, would it?

(...I think I remember some deeper back-and-forth pontifications going on during it, anyway)

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

This wouldn't have been when our intrepid Sergeant had that almost whole episode long debate with the character modeled after Timothy Leary, would it?

(...I think I remember some deeper back-and-forth pontifications going on during it, anyway)

No, I think this was a different one. I do remember the "Timothy Leary" one. That actor usually played 

similar roles-- fast talking upscale con men. The one I mentioned was about a teenager without much

life experience who fell under the sway of (mostly) Baudelaire and went off the deep end. I can't recall

the ending, but Joe Friday was right there, matching him verse for verse. 

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On 1/17/2021 at 6:41 PM, jameselliot said:

My favorite moment in Witness To Murder was at 1.16 when Jesse White did the dum-de-dum-dum main title theme from Dragnet and said a line similar to what Joe Friday would say. The story went off the rails for me when Sanders spouts Nazi rhetoric and rants in German.  Instead of being a gaslighting ladykiller, he's now a super-villain. The music seemed similar to the Edward G. Robinson flick Vice Squad (1953). Sure enough, it was by the same composer Herschel Burke Gilbert. He did the famous theme for TV's The Rifleman. The ending also didn't work for me. Where did all these people come from in a few minutes? Barbara looks down and there's a thousand people looking up at her on the building. With all that, you still can't go wrong with Stanwyck and Sanders.

He also did the music for Burke's Law.

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On 1/19/2021 at 10:45 AM, Cigarjoe cellph said:

I had to wait to see both films on demand, it's too late for me to stay up especially for these last two films on Saturday night, and I'm working on Sundays this time of the year. Especially since I have seen The Glass Key before. Lake always looks like she just got out of high school, and never liked Ladd all that much. Crazy Bendix is the best part of The Glass Key.

I don't remember seeing Witness to Murder before but thought the cinematography was the best part. Liked that overhead shot of the building entrance with the flapping canopy, the sound effects were probably all foley. It did have a lot of plot absurdities and implausibilities also, plus Barbara had that same short unflattering hairstyle that plagued Ann Sheridan in Woman on the Run, Rita Hayworth in Lady From Shanghai, etc., etc.

 

The 50s Poodle cuts....

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On 1/17/2021 at 2:46 PM, misswonderly3 said:

This was my second viewing of Witness to Murder (saw it on TCM several years ago.)  I enjoyed it just as much this time around.  It's very engaging, never boring.

Quibbles:  Eddie was right when he mentioned in his intro that there were glaring plot flaws. One of them was this: When Richter, realizing the police are coming over to investigate his apartment, removes the body and  hauls it into the corridor, he hides it in the empty apartment next door.  (This apartment is up for lease.)  The door is unlocked, he just opens it and drags the body in.

Next day, Cheryl, suspicious that he's done something along those lines, pretends she's interested in renting the apartment .  The superintendent takes her to it and unlocks the door !    How come the empty apartment was locked when Cheryl asked to see it, but open and conveniently available for Richter the night before?   Plot flaw !

I also agree with those who've noted that it's unlikely that Cheryl, terrified and fleeing the homicidal Richter, would have ascended that building under construction.  By that time a big crowd had gathered,  there's safety in numbers, she would have been a lot safer just staying in the crowd. But of course, frantically climbing a precarious high structure to escape a determined pursuer  (sometimes the bad guy, sometimes the cops) is a familiar scenario in old movies.  It allows for such dramatic endings.  I do wish Richter had not fallen to his death, but been caught and arrested by Detective Larry.  That way, Richter's story would have come out, and everything Cheryl claimed to have happened would have been verified.  I know we're supposed to think that the police did indeed believe her after that, but it would have been gratifying, somehow, to have heard Richter confirm as true all the things she said he did, including  admitting that he'd snuck into her apartment and typed those notes himself.

It's scary to think how easily a person, especially a woman, could be certified as insane and imprisoned in an asylum, based on pretty much nothing sometimes. 

By the way, I always notice when Black people show up in old movies, because it happens so rarely.  I liked the Black lady and her song - she was the least weird of the inmates Cheryl shared a ward with.  Not a bad voice,  either.

That was Juanita Moore. Not sure if that was her singing........

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2 hours ago, Hibi said:

That was Juanita Moore. Not sure if that was her singing........

Yes, Moore was "Negress" in the film, which is the exact way she was billed in the credits. By the end of the decade, when Hollywood was feeling more liberal about race relations, she would receive an Oscar nomination for Imitation of Life.

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4 minutes ago, TomJH said:

Yes, Moore was "Negress" in the film, which is the exact way she was billed in the credits. By the end of the decade, when Hollywood was feeling more liberal about race relations, he would receive an Oscar nomination for Imitation of Life.

AWFUL! I didn't notice that in the credits.

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On 1/17/2021 at 1:09 PM, Bronxgirl48 said:

WITNESS TO MURDER, oy, where do I begin -- very disappointed.   Stanny in soft focus??  I thought she was a vanity-free actress (when gray hairs came in, she proudly showed them off).  The vaseline lens was, well, distracting, to say the least.  Her character never asked "Who is it?" when the doorbell rang.  Not a wise strategy when you are convinced someone is going to kill you.   Of course she flees to the top of that high rise under construction -- it's what victims do in movies.  (I'm reminded of the young daughter in CAPE FEAR, who knows that slimy Robert Mitchum is following her down the street, so what does she do?  Stay outside and run to the nearest police station?  No, she heads back inside the school building after everyone has been let out for the day).  Missy is one of my favorites but I don't think this was one of her more effective roles. I would have preferred someone with a more passive persona, along the lines, say, of a Betsy Drake, even though I can't stand the woman.  I can never enjoy a Gary Merrill performance because his perpetual five o'clock shadow always precedes him, lol.   I will say that George Sanders gives a fabulous performance.  The scene where his character, in talking-villain mode, starts spouting German to Babs is supremely creepy.   Lots of eerie shots -- the wind-swept apartment canopy, plus certain camera angles.   But the mental ward was a bit over the top for me -- quite campy, in fact.  

I found those gauzy close ups distracting as well. I can't remember seeing that in a Stanwyck film before. Maybe there were more in the 50s. I havent seen much of her 50s work.

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2 minutes ago, Hibi said:

AWFUL! I didn't notice that in the credits.

Yes, I was surprised by the billing. I'm not certain that I've seen any other black actress billed that way in a film, though I assume Witness to Murder is not alone.

I can't recall any film in which a black actor is billed as "Negro."

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