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Eyewitness (1981)

Despite realizing that this should have been a much better film overall, I find myself drawn to it on occasion. Truthfully it feels like two films trying to find a home under one title.

eyewitness

It’s hard to argue with a cast that includes William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver and Christopher Plummer sharing above the title billing. Now add in Morgan Freeman and a special billing nod to James Woods and we’ve got a first rate group of actors lined up for director Peter Yates.

Hurt stars as a night shift janitor who stumbles across a murdered executives body in the building where he is employed. His first thought is that James Woods might be responsible as Woods has had a history with the victim. Woods was fired due to his run ins with the victim.

Enter Morgan Freeman and Sigourney Weaver. Freeman is the detective assigned to the case and Weaver is the newswoman covering the murder for local television. Hurt isn’t talking to Freeman but has been infatuated with Weaver’s newswoman persona therefore insinuates that he knows more than he is telling. She takes the bait.

Mr. Plummer is on the scene as Weaver’s well to do betrothed. He seems to be the head of a Jewish rescue operation who may or may not be a slippery character.

plummer eyewitness

There is a whole lot going on here in this convoluted plot that at times even seems as if it has a Rosemary’s Baby flavor to it when Weaver’s parents are on screen dealing with her as if she were a two year old not to mention their relationship with Plummer.

Once things get settled plot wise you can begin to see where we are headed. It’s all highly unlikely with far too many loose ends. Still, director Yates has a flair for this type of thing and it’s all been filmed quite professionally.

Woods is his neurotic self, Hurt just weird, Plummer is rather suspicious and Weaver must be an airhead to fall for what appears to be a stalker in Hurt. Morgan Freeman is about the only character that comes off as reasonably normal.

Director Yates has had a hot and cold career but will forever be known as the man who filmed Bullitt. He also gave us the Robert Mitchum classic The Friends of Eddie Coyle.

For me the interest is Woods and Plummer. Woods can eat up the screen under the right role and this is one of his earlier creepy characters. As for Plummer, I`m a fan. It`s a good role for him but somehow it seems like his character belonged in The Marathon Man.

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