Release Date: February 8, 1985
Director: Peter Weir
Starring: Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Lukas Haas, Danny Glover.
Tag Lines: “A big city cop. A small country boy. The have nothing in common …but a murder.”
“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…”
Relevance: My family loved Harrison Ford, especially my mother. Our admiration for him began with ‘American Graffiti.’ It then catapulted with the ‘Star Wars’ trilogy and the ever popular character, Indiana Jones. He was cool, witty, exciting and in the eyes of my mom, sexy as ever. The woman swooned at nearly every glimpse of the man. So when ‘Witness’ was released in theaters it was never a question of if we would see it, but when.
Unfortunately I don’t recall when all of us saw the film. My parents may have gone to the theaters to see it, I just don’t remember. For me, the first time that I watched it was in late 1985 or early 1986 when it premiered on HBO. Regardless if my family saw it before then, I know for sure we all watched it when it played on TV.
‘Witness’ was totally different from his other roles, but I still loved Mr. Ford as well as the entire movie. For an almost sixteen year old, he was the epitome of a hero and I totally wanted to be like him when I grew up. The movie was really a love story, masqueraded as a thriller, and my mom ate up every bit of romance between Mr. Ford and Kelly McGillis. It really was a movie that entertained each and every member of my family.
There was no question that ‘Witness’ would be purchased on VHS as soon as possible to become a part of our movie collection. We watched the movie non-stop when it aired on HBO. Each time we watched it we were sucked into the story of John Book and Rachel and Samuel Lapp. Growing up in Pennsylvania, we were very familiar with the Amish culture. My family would frequent the Lancaster area quite often. After the movie was released, we sought out some of the places used in the filming of the movie. Yes, one might say we got our geek on for ‘Witness.’
‘Witness’ received critical acclaim and eventually went on to be nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning two. It was also a box office hit becoming the eighth highest grossing film of 1985. More importantly, it was a success with my family and kept Harrison Ford as one of our favorite Hollywood actors in the 1980’s.
Today’s Thoughts: I guess I always knew Harrison Ford was a handsome man, but after watching ‘Witness’ today I can officially agree with my mom and say he was as sexy as ever. Not only does he act extremely well as John Book, but man alive he looked hot doing so. I thoroughly enjoyed re-watching ‘Witness’ today for many reasons, but that was definitely icing on the cake.
The film holds up remarkably well as both a thriller and a love story. It blows my mind that the movie is now thirty-five years old, seems like just yesterday. Peter Weir really did know how to capture both the love and the tenseness in the film. There are real moments of high anxiety throughout. Equally, there are lovely moments between Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis that are downright beautiful to watch. It really is a powerful film.
The cast is near perfection. Harrison Ford has never been better. He really is both the man of action and the romantic lead. His subtlety in the performance makes his moments with Ms. McGillis, equally fantastic, palpable. You really want them to have a happily ever after. Lukas Haas and Danny Glover are extremely effective as well. If only Patti LuPone were not on this movie. She is simply awful both on and off the screen. Thankfully her time in the film is limited.
‘Witness’ is a wonderful neo-noir crime drama that is totally worth the two hour time commitment. It is fun, exciting and can be quite emotional as well. If you get nothing else out of it, you’ll at least be able to watch the beautiful human specimen that is Harrison Ford.
Awards: Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Earl W. Wallace, William Kelley, Pamela Wallace (winner), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Thom Noble (winner), Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Harrison Ford (nomination), Academy Award for Best Director Peter Weir (nomination), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, John Seale (nomination), Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Stan Jolley, John H. Anderson (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, Maurice Jarre (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture, Peter Weir (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Harrison Ford (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Kelly McGillis (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, Earl W. Wallace, William Kelley (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, Maurice Jarre (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Score, Maurice Jarre (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actor, Harrison Ford (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actress, Kelly McGillis (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, John Seale (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Editing, Thom Noble (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, Earl W. Wallace, William Kelley (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Peter Weir (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Earl W. Wallace, William Kelley (winner).
Ways to Watch: Hulu, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, DVD Availability.