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VHS | SP | Slipcase
112 mins (NTSC)
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Witness (1985)

Additional Information

Additional Information
Harrison Ford is John Book - A big city cop who knows too much. His only evidence: a small boy who's seen too much...

8 year old Samuel: sole witness to a murder. Three killers who'll stop at nothing to silence him. One honest cop who'll give his life to save him...

In 1984, in a Pennsylvania countryside, an Amish community attends the funeral of Jacob Lapp, who leaves behind a widow Rachel (McGillis) and an eight-year-old son Samuel (Haas). In her grief, she and Samuel travel by train to visit Rachel's sister, which takes them into the city of Philadelphia. Samuel is amazed by the sights in the big city. While waiting for a connecting train at the 30th Street Station, Samuel goes into the men's room and witnesses two men attack and murder a third (Carhart), narrowly escaping detection as he hides in the bathroom stalls. Detective John Book (Ford) is assigned to the case and he and his partner, Sergeant Elton Carter (Jennings), question Samuel. It turns out the victim was an undercover police officer. Samuel is unable to identify the lone perpetrator whose face he saw in the bathroom from a number of mug shots or a police lineup. However, as Samuel walks around the police station, he notices a newspaper clipping in a display case in which narcotics officer James McFee (Glover) is honored for his exemplary service in the line of duty. Book sees Samuel point to the picture and quickly covers over his hand. John remembers that McFee was previously responsible for a drug raid on expensive chemicals used to make amphetamines, but the evidence had mysteriously disappeared.

John confides his suspicions to his superior officer, Chief Paul Schaeffer (Sommer), who advises John to keep the case secret so they can work out how to move forward. But John is later ambushed in a parking garage and badly wounded by McFee. Since only Schaeffer knew of John's suspicions, John realizes Schaeffer must have tipped McFee off, and is also corrupt.

John calls Carter and orders him to remove the Lapp file from the records. He then hides his car and uses his sister's car to return Rachel and Samuel to Lancaster County. While attempting to return to the city, John passes out in the vehicle in front of their farm.

Rachel argues that taking John to a hospital would allow the corrupt police officers to find him while also putting Samuel in danger as well. Her father-in-law Eli (Rubes) reluctantly agrees to shelter him, despite his distrust for the gun-carrying outsider. John slowly recovers in their care, and begins to develop feelings for Rachel, who is likewise drawn to him. The Lapps' neighbor Daniel Hochleitner (Godunov) had hoped to court her, and this becomes a cause of friction. Later Rachel and John are caught dancing, and Eli takes her aside and warns that she could be shunned by the community if she continues on this path.

John's relationship with the Amish community grows as they learn he is skilled at carpentry. He is invited to participate in a barn raising for a newly married couple and gains Hochleitner's respect. However, the attraction between John and Rachel is evident and clearly concerns Eli and others, especially when she serves John first at a meal. That night, John comes upon Rachel as she bathes, and she stands half-naked before him, but he walks away, explaining the next morning that if they had made love the night before he would have to stay or she would have to leave.

John goes into town with Eli to use a payphone, and learns that Carter has been killed. He deduces that it was Schaeffer and McFee, who are intensifying their efforts to find him and are joined by a third corrupt officer, "Fergie" Ferguson (MacInnes), who helped McFee commit the murder at the station. In town, Hochleitner and the other Amish men are harassed by locals. Breaking with the Amish tradition of nonviolence, John retaliates with a punch. The fight is reported to the local police. Thus far, Schaeffer had been unable to track down which 'Lapp' family John was hiding out with, but such an incident would surely tip off Schaeffer where to go.

His cover blown, John knows he must leave. Rachel is upset at the news. When she is alone she removes her bonnet and goes to John, and they passionately kiss.

The next day, the corrupt officers arrive at the Lapp farm and search for John and Samuel, taking Rachel and Eli hostage in the process, but not before Eli shouts a warning to John about the officers' presence. John orders Samuel to run to the neighbors for safety, then tricks Fergie into the corn silo and suffocates him under tons of corn. He retrieves Fergie's shotgun and kills McFee. Schaeffer then forces Rachel and Eli out of the house at gunpoint; Eli signals to Samuel (who has returned unseen) to ring the farm's bell. John confronts Schaeffer, who forces him to give up his shotgun by threatening to kill Rachel. However, the loud clanging from the farm bell summons the Amish neighbors within earshot. With so many witnesses, Schaeffer realizes he can't escape, and gives up; the local police arrive and arrest him.

As John prepares to leave, he says goodbye to Samuel in the fields. He and Rachel share a long, speechless stare on the porch, as both realize their feelings for each other could not continue. Finally, Eli wishes him well "out there among the English." Book smiles, drives away in his now-fixed car, and exchanges a wave of farewell to Hochleitner a

Release Date: February 8, 1985 Paramount

Boxoffice: $68,706,993 2016: $167,606,400


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