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Eyewitness (1956 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Eyewitness" (1956).jpg
British 1-sheet poster
Directed byMuriel Box
Written byJanet Green
Produced bySydney Box
Distributed byRank Organisation
Release date
14 August 1956
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Eyewitness is a 1956 British thriller film directed by Muriel Box and starring Donald Sinden, Muriel Pavlow, Belinda Lee, Michael Craig, Nigel Stock and Richard Wattis. It was made by the Rank Organisation.[1][2][3]


After an argument with her husband, Lucy Church storms out of her house and goes to see a film at the local cinema. While coming back from making a phone call, she stumbles across the office where she witnesses the murder of the cinema manager by two criminals Wade and Barney who are in the process of robbing the cinema's safe. When they pursue her, she is struck by a bus and is taken to hospital. Unable to leave the town until they know what has happened to her, the two robbers head to the hospital to observe her. Meanwhile, her husband Jay Church has grown concerned and scours the town searching for her.

At the hospital the medical staff attend to Lucy and place her in a quiet ward although she has yet to regain consciousness. Wade, watching from the nearby shrubbery realises that if she lives she would be able to identify him and he would be hanged for murder and he decides to murder her in spite of the protests of his partner, Barney, who has grown disillusioned with his sinister intent. Wade is uninterested and beats him. He several times tries to enter the hospital to suffocate her but is repeatedly foiled, by the watchfulness of an elderly patient and a series of interruptions by the nurse's boyfriend, an expectant father and the watchman and dog on their rounds.

Eventually, Wade assumes the disguise of a hospital orderly and takes Lucy to the operating theatre where he plans to murder her – only to be prevented by the sudden reappearance of Barney, his associate.



The lead role of a murderer was a change of pace for actor Donald Sinden, who did extensive research for the part, modelling his performance on Neville Heath.[4] The film was shot in mid 1956.[5] It was one of several "sensible girl" parts Lee played for Rank.[6]

Michael Craig wrote Box's "skills as a director were confined to the ability to say 'Action!' and 'Cut!' She was a very nice lady, a bit like a deputy headmistress, but her main concern while filming seemed to be how the set was dressed."[7]

Critical reception

Variety called it "A neatly made, unpretentious thriller that should do well for the home market... makes for suspenseful action, although the story is improbable in some of its twists. Pic is well acted and well served by its director and camera crew..[8]

Monthly Film Bulletin thought the theme "was a servicable one; but here the producers have so over-laden the storyline with cosy comic characters as to make wonder if their intention was to deliberately guy their material. Only Nigel Stock and the spirited Ada Reeve emerge with credit and the melodrama is unadventurously developed.."[9]

TV Guide gave the film two out of five stars, noting "a nice little thriller by the Sydney and Muriel Box team" ;[10] while Britmovie wrote, "the minor suspenser has several threads but unfurls with a good sense of timing and provides both excitement and light-hearted moments of humour. Donald Sinden, a rather bland leading man, successfully attempts a very different character role, conveying all the ruthlessness of the cold-blooded killer. There’s also a fine supporting role from Nigel Stock as a deaf safe-breaker."[2]

In his memoirs, Sinden wrote the film "is now shown on television more frequently than any of my other films, but ironically when it first opened, to rather bad press reviews, commercial television was in its infancy and yet to make the impact that was to change the lives of everyone in the country, not the least those in the Rankery."[11]


  1. ^ sol- (8 March 1957). "Eyewitness (1956)". IMDb.
  2. ^ a b "Eyewitness".
  3. ^ "Eyewitness (1956)". BFI. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012.
  4. ^ "NEW DEAL FOR STAR". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 4 April 1956. p. 52. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  5. ^ Round the British Studios Nepean, Edith. Picture Show; London Vol. 67, Iss. 1736, (Jul 7, 1956): 11.
  6. ^ Vagg, Stephen (7 September 2020). "A Tale of Two Blondes: Diana Dors and Belinda Lee". Filmink.
  7. ^ Craig, Michael (2005). The Smallest Giant: An Actor's Life. Allen and Unwin. p. 72.
  8. ^ Review of movie at Variety
  9. ^ EYEWITNESS Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 23, Iss. 264, (Jan 1, 1956): 104.
  10. ^ "Eyewitness".
  11. ^ Sinden, Donald (1983). A Touch of the Memoirs. Futura. p. 279.

External links

This page was last edited on 28 July 2021, at 21:55
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