Silent Witness (1985 film)

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Silent Witness
Silent Witness DVD cover.jpg
DVD cover
Genre Drama
Written by Conrad Bromberg
Directed by Michael Miller
Starring Valerie Bertinelli
John Savage
Theme music composer Michael Hoenig
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Joe Wizan
Robert Greenwald
Producer(s) Conrad Bromberg
Robert Florio (associate producer)
Paul Pompian (supervising producer)
Production location(s) Pittsburgh
Cinematography Rexford L. Metz
Editor(s) Robert Florio
Running time 100 minutes
Production company(s) Robert Greenwald Productions
Distributor NBC
Original network NBC
Original release
  • October 14, 1985 (1985-10-14)

Silent Witness is a 1985 television film directed by Michael Miller which aired October 14, 1985 on NBC. The film is based on a true rape case in Massachusetts.[1]


Anna and Kevin Dunne are a newlywed couple who have recently moved to Pittsburgh. She is working in a discount department store, he is a garbage man. She leads a very happy life, until one night she, along with her husband, witnesses the rape of Patti Mullen in a bar. To her shock, she recognizes Michael, her brother-in-law, in one of the three rapists. The following days, Anna is dealing with a great dilemma. On the one hand, she sympathizes with Patti, a mentally unstable alcoholic who depends on witnesses, and she wants the rapists to be punished. On the other hand, she knows testifying against her brother-in-law will ruin the very close Dunne family.

Kevin advises Anna to remain quiet, which she initially does. She does visit Patti, though, who does not remember the rape completely. Anna admits to her about the rape, after which Patti presses charges. Kevin and Anna avoid being summoned to testify, which puts a great deal of feeling guilt on Anna's shoulders. She knows that Patti, because of her alcoholic background, can rely only on Anna. During the highly publicized trial, Michael's lawyer Huffman does not have any trouble proving Patti is unreliable. Not much later, it is revealed Patti has committed suicide.

Now feeling extremely guilty, Anna is finally ready to testify. When Kevin tries to prevent her from doing so, she decides to leave him, telling him the case is driving them apart. Soon after the testimony, the Dunne family, with the exception of Kevin, starts committing perjury, telling in court Anna is holding a grudge against them for being teased because she, unlike Jean Dunne, hasn't ever got pregnant. They try to convince the judges that Anna's testimony is false and that she is only trying to take revenge against the family.

One night, Anna receives a visit from Joey Caputo, an old friend who left the bar shortly before the rape occurred. They have sex that night and the next day, Joey gives a false testimony in which he claims that Anna only cares about the publicity. Kevin notices how his relatives are destroying Anna and finally decides to denounce his family. He tries to convince Anna to run away with him, but she is determined to stay to serve justice. She goes back on stand, but once again, the defense is able to twist her words. In the end, Kevin comes to the rescue, finally giving a testimony. Afterwards, Anna and Kevin are reunited.


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