Key Witness (1960 film)

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Key Witness
Directed by Phil Karlson
Produced by Pandro S. Berman
Written by Alfred Brenner
Sidney Michaels
Based on novel by Frank Kane
Starring Jeffrey Hunter
Patricia Crowley
Dennis Hopper
Music by Charles Wolcott
Edited by Ferris Webster
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
Running time
82 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $857,000[1]
Box office $810,000[1]

Key Witness is a black and white 1960 crime film directed by Phil Karlson and starring Jeffrey Hunter, Pat Crowley and Dennis Hopper.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

Fred Morrow, an average Los Angeles citizen, witnesses a gang murder when he stops in a cafe to use a telephone. Aware that he is the only witness against them, the gang members, led by young "Cowboy" Tomkins, seek out his identity and terrorize him and his family to keep him from testifying against them.

A police detective, Torno, fears he will lose his only witness, but Fred stands up to the gang, despite wife Ann's hysteria. Cowboy gives the Morrows until midnight to change their minds, he and gang members Ruby, Muggles and Apple throwing a rock through the family's window and slashing their car's tires.

Cowboy leads the cops on a car chase, but is caught. In court, though, Fred changes his testimony after learning Ann has been attacked by Ruby and their child held at gunpoint by Muggles. He later provokes Apple, who is black, into siding against Cowboy, who reveals his racist attitudes toward his accomplice. Torno takes the entire gang into custody, Apple agreeing to testify.



According to MGM records, the film earned $360,000 in the US and Canada and $450,000 in other countries, resulting in a loss of $496,000.[1]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Key Witness at the American Film Institute Catalog.

External links[edit]