Star Witness | Chicago Reader

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Four months after making the gangster a national sex symbol with The Public Enemy (1931), William Wellman delivered this comforting morality tale about an urban family who witness the murder of a cop and the hardheaded DA (Walter Huston) who recruits them to testify against a powerful mobster. The father (crisply played by Grant Mitchell) is threatened and beaten by the dapper thug Big Jack (who else but Nat Pendleton); the eldest son (Edward Nugent) cynically advises the family to keep quiet; and the grandfather (Chic Sale), a picturesque old coot with whiskers and a fife, insists on testifying to honor the founding fathers, even after one of the younger boys is kidnapped. Law and order prevail, though I suspect in real life these folks would have been at the movies cheering The Public Enemy. 68 min.

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