Boomerang! (1947)

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Movie Info

Filmed as if it were a documentary, this gripping film noir was considered a shocker in its day because it centered on the murder of a priest and for its presentation of the corruption and illicit shenanigans that can be found in a "typical" American small town. It was also one of the first films of its kind to leave the murder formally unsolved and is based on the true story of a murder and trial that occurred in early 1924 in Bridgeport Connecticut. The grim tale begins as an aged priest pauses beneath a street lamp to puff on his pipe. Without warning someone pulls a gun and shoots him in the back of the head in front of a crowd. The police soon arrest a transient and accuse him of the brutal killing. The vagrant, who hadn't slept in days and who was on the brink of starvation confesses. The ambitious states attorney is to prosecute him, but, despite the insistence of his higher-ups who desperately want a scapegoat to soothe the public outrage, his investigation turns up inconclusive evidence. Even testimony from "reliable witnesses" does not fully convince him that the tramp is really guilty. The attorney begins investigating more deeply on his own. Much to the surprise of every one involved and to the detriment of his career, the prosecutor abruptly changes sides and begins defending the transient. He then proceeds to demolish the new prosecutor's case in court and in the end risks his own life to prove that the hobo could not have killed the priest. The story was filmed in the real office, jail cells and courtroom of Stamford, Connecticut. Producer de Rochemont who pioneered the distinguished "March of Time" newsreels helped perfect the documentary style used in this drama.

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Cast

Dana Andrews
as Henry L. Harvey
Jane Wyatt
as Madge Harvey
Lee J. Cobb
as Harold F. 'Robbie' Robinson
Arthur Kennedy
as John Waldron
Cara Williams
as Irene Nelson
Wryley Birch
as Fr. Lambert
Robert Keith
as McCreery
Barry Kelley
as Sgt. Dugan
Richard Garrick
as Mr. Rogers
Karl Malden
as Lt. White
Wyrley Birch
as Fr. Lambert
John Stearns
as Rev. Gardiner
Guy Thomajan
as Cartucci
Lucia Backus Seger
as Mrs. Lukash
Dudley Sadler
as Dr. Rainsford
Walter Greaza
as Mayor Swayze
Helen Hatch
as Miss Manion
Joe Kazan
as Mr. Lukash
Ida McGuire
as Miss Roberts
John Carmody
as Callahan
Clay Clement
as Judge Tate
Bert Freed
as Herron
Royal Beal
as Johnson
Anna Minot
as Secretary
Leona Roberts
as Mrs. Crossman
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Critic Reviews for Boomerang!

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (4)

Gripping, real-life melodrama, told in semi-documentary style.

Nov 1, 2007 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

The unemphatic presentation of details, the use of locations, and strong performances from a largely non-professional supporting cast, lend the film authenticity and power.

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Movie-makers should positively remember that a public story is a public trust.

Mar 25, 2006 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

This 1947 film is limited in scope and feeling, but the superficial dramatics work well enough.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

...remains a taut, effective drama fascinating both for its technical acumen and for its disturbing prescience of the travails Kazan would face with HUAC in only five years.

Dec 27, 2018 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

... Kazan avoids the usual theatrics as Andrews, who loosens up a little under Kazan's direction, methodically works his way through his case with a modesty rare even in today's spate of TV legal dramas. It's more film gray than noir...

Jan 28, 2017 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Boomerang!

½

A great cast and story, it's really dramatic and exciting, I loved it.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

½

I'm teetering between 3 and 3 1/2 stars. I liked the essence more than I liked the premise of this politically motivated courtroom drama. Dana Andrews and Lee J Cobb are superb, as always, but the narration and structure is a little too heavy-handed for my taste.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

½

Filmed on location in my current hometown - Stamford CT - yay! Good buildup about political shenanigans related to the prosecution of a mysterious murder in small town America is ultimately spoiled by a by third act courtroom scene where all is miraculously revealed. A compelling mix of documentary and noir styles in this early effort by Elia Kazan.

Bob Stinson
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

An honest district attourney is pressured into convicting a man accused of the murder of a priest, but when he examines the evidence, he has second thoughts as to the man's guilt. Rather similar to 12 Angry Men, which was released 10 years later and also featured Lee J. Cobb and Ed Begley, this is an intelligent courtroom drama based on a real case from the same director as Brando's On The Waterfront and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. It shows not only the investigation of the evidence, but also the pressures behind the scenes from self-serving politicians, the press and a public eager for a quick conviction. Dana Andrews is solid as the crusading DA, but it is Cobb's worldly wise chief of police and Arthur Kennedy as the suspect railroaded into a false confession that are the stand-out performances. The true identity of the murderer is only hinted at, and he suffers a rather contrived timely come-uppance no doubt to appease the "crime doesn't pay" censorship laws, but otherwise a fine noir-style examination of the American justice system.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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