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Boomerang!

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Elia Kazan
Produced by Louis De Rochemont
Written by Story:
Fulton Oursler
Screenplay:
Richard Murphy
Starring Dana Andrews
Jane Wyatt
Lee J. Cobb
Music by David Buttolph
Cinematography Norbert Brodine
Editing by Harmon Jones
Studio Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
Release date(s) March 5, 1947 (1947-03-05)
Running time 88 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Boomerang! is a 1947 film based on the true story of a vagrant who was accused of murder, only to be found innocent through the efforts of the prosecutor. The film was directed by Elia Kazan, based on a story (written by Fulton Oursler, credited as "Anthony Abbot") in Reader's Digest and was shot largely in Stamford, Connecticut after Kazan was denied permission to film in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where the actual events occurred.[1] This semidocumentary also contains voice-overs by Reed Hadley. The film was entered into the 1947 Cannes Film Festival. [2]

Contents

Plot

As the film begins, a priest is shot dead on a Bridgeport, Connecticut public street at night. The police, lead by Chief Robinson (Cobb) fail to immediately find the murderer. It soon becomes a political football, with the police accused of incompetence, and the city's reform-minded administration comes under attack. Robinson and the prosecutor Henry Harvey (Andrews) come under severe pressure by political leaders to find the killer or bring in outside help.

After strenuous efforts yield nothing, a vagrant ex-serviceman, John Waldron (Kennedy) is apprehended. He is interrogated for hours by police until, deprived of sleep, he confesses. The evidence seems solid, and a gun in his possession is believed to be the gun that was used in the shooting.

Harvey, however, is not convinced. He investigates the evidence and the witnesses, and lays out the case before the judge. The charges are dismissed.

Cast

Background

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Factual basis

The film is based on an actual murder case in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1924. While walking near the Lyric Theater in downtown Bridgeport, the Rev. Hubert Dahme ("Father George Lambert" in the film) was fatally shot behind the left ear by a gun fired at close range. Those in the theater were so shocked that no one thought to call for an ambulance until 10 minutes had passed. Two hours later, the priest was pronounced dead at St. Vincent's Hospital in Bridgeport.[1] A vagrant and discharged soldier, Harold Israel, was indicted for the murder. Israel confessed to the crime, and a .32 revolver was found in his possession that police believe was used in the murder. Fairfield County, Connecticut state's attorney Homer Cummings conducted a thorough investigation and found Israel innocent of the crime. Cummings (named "Henry Harvey" in the film) later became Attorney General of the United States under Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Morning Record was the name used in the film for The Bridgeport Post (now the Connecticut Post).[1]

Filming locations

Almost all of the film was shot in Stamford, Connecticut, except for the courtroom scene shot in White Plains, New York.[3]

Stamford locations:[3]

  • The South End of Stamford, particularly at Saint Luke's Chapel.
  • Old Town Hall, particularly the Police Department offices and the stairway leading up from them to the courtroom.
  • The Altschul home on Den Road in Stamford (for a meeting of leading citizens).
  • For a scene in which a pastor was killed, the movie used the front and sidewalk of the Plaza Theatre, which stood on Greyrock Place (a driveway leading into the Stamford Town Center Mall is at that location now).
  • The former offices of The Advocate of Stamford, the local daily newspaper, on Atlantic Street. Some members of the Advocate editorial staff members were used in a scene about the news breaking that the priest killer had been caught.

The movie premiered at the Palace Theatre in Stamford on March 5, 1947, with Kazan and Andrews in attendance. (Kazan later fillmed Gentleman's Agreement which takes place in Darien, Connecticut, adjacent to Stamford, and which also included the actress Jane Wyatt.)[1]

Critical reception

The staff at Variety gave the film a positive review and wrote, "Boomerang! is gripping, real-life melodrama, told in semi-documentary style. Lensing was done on location at Stamford, Conn, the locale adding to realism. Based on a still unsolved murder case in Bridgeport, Conn, plot is backed up with strong cast...All the leads have the stamp of authenticities. The dialog and situations further the factual technique. Lee J. Cobb shows up strongly as chief detective, harassed by press and politicians alike while trying to carry out his duties. Arthur Kennedy is great as the law's suspect."[4]

Adaptations to Other Media

Boomerang was dramatized as a half-hour radio play on the November 10, 1947 broadcast of The Screen Guild Theater with Dana Andrews and Jane Wyatt and on the January 14, 1949 broadcast of the Ford Theatre with Dana Andrews.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "'Boomerang,' shot in Stamford, to be screened in Bridgeport", The Advocate of Stamford, Connecticut, October 13, 2009
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Boomerang". festival-cannes.com. http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/archives/ficheFilm/id/4223/year/1947.html. Retrieved 2009-01-04.  
  3. ^ a b Russell, Don, "'Roles' in movies are nothing new for city: Kazan used Stamford in the '40s", editorial page column in The Advocate, Stamford edition, page A10, April 25, 2007
  4. ^ Variety. Film Review, March 5, 1947. last accessed: November 26, 2009.

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