Film Review: Witness to Murder (1954)
Updated: Jun 12, 2021
The unrealized subtext is more powerful than the film.
Just like My Name is Julia Ross squanders its potential for commenting on class warfare, Kindred misses out on expanding its racial angle, the film under review forgets is a missed opportunity on gender warfare.
On a restless windy night, a young woman witnesses a murder in a building across. The murdered, a deliciously hammy George Sanders, not only cunningly evades the police but also manages to cast doubts on the witness's mental abilities. Sanders is a reputed man and. most importantly, a man. A working woman living alone is reason enough to imagine things and getting hysterical. All these things are not voiced but are present as a strong subtext in the film. Even the filmmakers seem to be unaware of them.
The police are widely regarded as misogynistic but here the leading cop in the case Gary Merrill starts an affair with the witness and patiently listens to all her theories. Too good to be true comes to mind and yes, this is a piece of lurid piece of 50's pulp fiction. The problem is that it is never convincing, and convinced of, itself.
Sanders turns out to be an ex-Nazi who has written a book inspired by Nietzsche. This becomes a potential gold mine that is exploiting the B-Movie tropes to their fullest. One hopes that the director would wake up to the pulpiness of the material but its earnest approach is deadly and it all reaches a lackluster climax atop a building.
The moody cinematography is, perhaps, the its strongest asset.