Boomerang\! Film Details
Overview: The true story of a prosecutor’s fight to prove the innocence of a man accused of a notorious murder.
Tagline: It comes back at you again and again!
Review: It belongs to a category of movies popular during the last 1940s, semi-documentaries, with voice-overs, often, as here, Reed Hadley in his reassuring baritone. Henry Hathaway doted on the style for a while. Thematically the tension arises from a familiar bundle of oppositions: crime control vs. due process. It’s a tension that has given us some of our most enjoyable trial movies, including “Young Mister Lincoln.” Lately, that is, since Watergate, a third model of the justice system has appeared: namely one in which a secret, conspiratorial hand causes corruption and systemic disorganization — “True Believer,” “All the President’s Men,” and so on, almost without end. We are stuffed with paranoia like Strassbourg geese. But “Boomerang” belongs to a different period, when a DA could take his mission seriously — “not to prosecute, but to see that justice is done.” It’s kind of neat, too. Relaxing in its own fairly isometric way. We can bring ourselves to believe that Dana Andrews will do the right thing, even though he’s misled into temptation at the beginning of the case. Isn’t it nice to believe in the justice system? I won’t repeat the story here, just add a few comments. The acting, first of all, is up to professional par. Dana Andrews is convincing as the self-doubting and totally human DA. My only problem with his performance is that he pronounces “bullet,” as “BOO-lit.” (Stop it at once.) Jane Wyatt has an attractive open face and a voice that suggests good breeding. I’m glad to see that no one has jumped on her role as perpetuating a stereotype. Yes, she loves her husband, cuddles up to him, brings him milk and a sandwich — but she is also quite on top of things too. Before a brawl can erupt in her living room she interrupts the proceedings with a tray and a query — “BEER, Gentlemen?” Andrews is tortured by his friends who urge him to win the case and run for governor, while other facts have led him to believe Arthur Kennedy’s prisoner may be innocent. In other words, if he convicts, he may become governor. If he loses, he’s a bum. Wyatt is massaging his shoulders and he glumly asks, “Remember those sandwiches we bought in the deli downstairs while I was in law school? It would be almost fun to do it again, wouldn’t it?” But that’s clearly not Wyatt’s idea of a good time. She pauses in her massage, looks thoughtfully down at him, and replies, “We were both a little younger then, Henry.” Of course she’s speaking for him as well. Ed Begley, a Connecticut native by the way, debuts here, I think. And he’s great. A blustering greedy small-time bureaucrat who’s going to lose his shirt if the case against Kennedy is dismissed or lost. Boy, can Begley sweat and act nervous. Arthur Kennedy provides an ambiguous character in his murder suspect. Everything seems stacked against him, but he doesn’t play it easy. He’s not merely a poor put-upon veteran who is a saint in real life. He’s angry, bitter, has had an unpleasant meeting with the murder victim, and was packing a .32 revolver when picked up. He exclaims defiantly that he left town “when I wanted to and because I wanted to.” In a moment of exhaustion he tells Andrews that he spent all those years in the army and he’s not a kid anymore. He didn’t want to drive a truck or deliver milk, he wanted to try something new and different. But this is as far as he goes in asking for understanding. We watch his interrogation now, from our 21st-century perspective, see him deprived of sleep for days, harassed and threatened with beating by the police, and think, “Wow, it’s a good thing we don’t treat prisoners like that anymore.” But we can if we want to, and we sometimes do. The so-called mastermind behind the terrorist attacks of 9/11 was captured in Afghanistan and, according to former FBI agents, was probably put through the same process as Kennedy in order to get information. Not torture. You don’t need torture, as the Chinese taught us during the Korean war. Just keep the prisoner awake and handcuffed behind his back, so someone else has to unzip his trousers in order for him to use the toilet. In supporting roles, Lee J. Cobb, as the cop who changes his mind, is excellent, and so is Karl Malden, who has less to do. I’ve always loved Sam Levene, no matter what part he’s appeared in, and this one, the cynical wisecracking reporter was made for him. There’s not a bad performance in the bunch, although I wish Ed Begley had gotten a few sympathetic scenes. Even the judge wears a suitably wry smile at one point as he directs Andrews, “Proceed.” Incidentally, the playwright Arthur Miller and the director, Kazan, were friends at the time. Miller lived near where the film was being shot and was given the part of an atmosphere person. In the police line-up, he’s the tall man in the dark coat on the far left. This is a fascinating crime and legal drama, all the more surprising because it’s true. Andrews takes what appears to be a water-tight case against a suspicious and friendless vagrant and dismisses it by reexamining the evidence against Kennedy. His plea, nulla prosequi, doesn’t mean that Kennedy is innocent, just that the state does not plan to prosecute him now. (If the state did, and lost, double jeopardy would apply.) The fact is that Andrews doesn’t show that Kennedy didn’t do it. He just demonstrates that there is plenty of room for reasonable doubt, usually the defense’s job. It took guts for him to do that, to play by the rules, to see that justice was done. An admirable film bout an admirable character.
Country: United States
Duration: 88 min
Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Also known as: Boomerang,Το μεγάλο κατηγορώ,Crimen sin castigo,O Justiceiro,影なき殺人,Geri tepen silah,Μπούμερανγκ,Bumerang,Boomerang!,Boomerang, l’arma che vendica,Бумеранг!,Bumeráng,Crime Sem Castigo,El justiciero,Saarroksissa,Ο ένας ήταν προδότης,The Perfect Case,Kage naki satsujin