Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

BOOMERANG


BOOMERANG (1947). Director: Elia Kazan.

A minister in a small town in Connecticut is shot in the back of the head and killed in broad daylight. A lot of pressure is put on the police chief (Lee J. Cobb) to make an arrest, but suspects are in short supply until witnesses identify a serviceman named John Waldron (Arthur Kennedy). Complicating matters is the fact that there are unethical political forces in town, some of which need for Waldron to be convicted, and others who want him to get off even if he's guilty. Prosecuting attorney Henry Harvey (Dana Andrews) is prepared to try the case, but he has nagging doubts about the man's guilt. In a bizarre twist in the courtroom during a preliminary hearing, Harvey tears apart his own arguments and re-interviews the witnesses. But is Waldron really innocent?

Boomerang begins slowly, with the documentary approach being a mite talky and dull, but eventually it becomes quite absorbing. There are some highly interesting situations in the film, but it's probably the acting that puts it over. Under Kazan's guidance, Dana Andrews gives one of his best performances. Lee J. Cobb, Arthur Kennedy, Jane Wyatt, (as Mrs. Harvey) and Sam Levene, are all solid. Ed Begley nearly steals the picture as the chicanerous Paul Harris, and Cara Williams has a notable small role as a waitress who insists she saw Waldron not far from where the minister was murdered. George Petrie, who appeared with Jackie Gleason in many episodes of The Honeymooners, scores as the pubic defender, Harry O'Shea.

Verdict: Suspenseful and intriguing. ***.

2 comments:

Livius said...

I really enjoy these early docu-noirs which made good use of real locations. Throwing a court case into the mix just adds to the enjoyment. I agree it's not quite top notch but it is very entertaining and has a great cast. I was very happy that Fox finally managed to get this one released.

William said...

You're right about the great cast. The usual suspects -- Ed Begley was terrific -- and Dana Andrews was much better than usual.

Thanks for the comment!