Eyewitness (1981 film)

Eyewitness (released in the UK as The Janitor) is a 1981 American neo-noir[4] thriller film produced and directed by Peter Yates and written by Steve Tesich. It stars William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Plummer and James Woods. The story involves a television news reporter and a janitor who team up to solve a murder.[5]

Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Yates
Produced byPeter Yates
Written bySteve Tesich
StarringWilliam Hurt
Sigourney Weaver
Christopher Plummer
James Woods
Music byStanley Silverman
CinematographyMatthew F. Leonetti
Edited byCynthia Scheider
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • February 13, 1981 (1981-02-13)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$8.5 million[1] or $6.4 million[2]
Box office$4.5 million (US/ Canada)[3]


New York janitor Daryll Deever (Hurt) is an avid fan of television news reporter Tony Sokolow (Weaver). A wealthy Vietnamese man suspected of criminal connections is murdered in Daryll's office building and Tony suspects Deever knows something about it.

She keeps after him for information, a pursuit Daryll allows because he is romantically interested in Tony, and a "cat and mouse" game ensues. This convinces the real killers that Daryll does know vital information about the murder, so he and Tony end up with their lives in danger over this false assumption.



The news equipment and promotional posters actually belonged to a real New York City television station, then-Metromedia owned independent WNEW-TV. Two then-station employees, news anchor John Roland and sportscaster Bill Mazer, made cameo appearances in the film. Sigourney Weaver, whose father Sylvester "Pat" Weaver had been a top network television executive, also worked for the station in order to gain experience. Both WNEW-TV (now Fox-owned-and-operated WNYW) and the film were under the corporate umbrella of 21st Century Fox until March 20, 2019, when Fox closed on its sale of its entertainment assets, including the film, to The Walt Disney Company.

Producer-director Peter Yates and screenwriter Steve Tesich had collaborated two years earlier on the film Breaking Away.

Hum To Mohabbat Karega, a 2000 Bollywood thriller-comedy film starring Karishma Kapoor and Bobby Deol was inspired by Eyewitness.


  1. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p259
  2. ^ YATES AND TESICH: 'BANKABLE' TEAM Taylor, Clarke. Los Angeles Times 25 May 1980: s43.
  3. ^ Solomon p 235. Figures are rentals not gross.
  4. ^ Silver, Alain; Ward, Elizabeth; eds. (1992). Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style (3rd ed.). Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-479-5
  5. ^ Lanken, Dane (1981-03-09). "'Eyewitness' well-flavored". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2011-04-24.

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