Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Boomerang

Boomerang (1947). D: Elia Kazan. Dana Andrews, Ed Begley, Sr., Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden, Jane Wyatt. After police arrest a drifter for the murder of a beloved local priest, District Attorney Andrews begins to suspect a rush to judgment. Based on a true story and filmed in a then-innovative documentary style, Boomerang builds to a dramatic courtroom conclusion buoyed by a typically excellent Andrews. Cobb as the crusty, honest police chief who doesn't like politicians, Malden (in his first film) as an inexperienced and overzealous detective, Begley as corrupt real estate speculator, and Jane Wyatt as Andrews' stunning, poised wife all shine. That's Arthur Miller on the right of the police lineup.

The film holds up well on its own merits, but what strikes one today is the almost unrestrained pre-Miranda power of the state to prosecute. At the time in which Boomerang, the suspect had no Miranda rights, meaning that he was not informed of his right to remain silent or that questioning did not cease when he requested an attorney. In fact, the police questioned him ceaselessly for hours on end, eventually eliciting a confession under duress. Andrews subsequently visited the suspect in his cell without an attorney present. Seven witnesses simultaneously identified the suspect in a lineup, meaning that they were in one place for the identification and subject to groupthink. In the end, only Andrew's doubts saved the man from certain conviction on what turned out to be flimsy evidence. (Andrews' character was based on Homer Cummings, who served as Franklin Roosevelt's Attorney General from 1933-1939.)

There's also a quaintness to the film. "America The Beautiful" plays softly in the opening scene when a narrator introduces the small Connecticut city where the events occurred. Cobb eschews the rough stuff during interrogation despite the urgings of a gruff uniformed sergeant. And the film's ultimate conclusion? In politics, the one thing you can't beat is an honest man...

CIA Director Leon Panetta has fired all contractors involved in the torture interrogation program, including the two psychologists who defecated on their profession and reputations by lending their expertise. Just My Little Part of the World has more here. And she asks the relevant question: What hell took so long?...

Hive...

For someone who claims not to know much about health care, Cliff over at Cliff's Crib sure writes eloquently about it...

Are American intellectuals blind to the attacks on them? Not so in France, another thing about that country that wouldn't be bad to emulate here...


Angels and People/Life in New Orleans: For rent...

Dad's Photos #10 (great old cars)...

R. I. P. Tacoma native and Ventures guitarist Bob Bogle, "architect of the distinctive guitar sound" of "Walk, Don't Run" (with Bogle on the right) and many other Ventures hits. Here's a live version of "Walk Don't Run" and an weird psychedelic video of The Ventures miming "Hawaii Five-0":




5 comments:

Roy said...

Sorry to hear that Bob Bogle's gone, although that's not all that surprising. He's been sick for years and hasn't been touring with the band for a long time.

And are those Marshall stacks they're playing through in both of those videos? Man, so much for my ear! I would have sworn that was the classic Fender Reverb sound I was hearing all those years. Oh dear...

John Hayes said...

Good review-- haven't seen it, but you give "Boomerang" a great write-up. & nice Ventures stuff-- "Walk Don't Run" was originally a jazz piece by great jazz guitarist Johnny Smith-- he had some of the smoothest chops ever.

Thanks for the mention!

sussah said...

Clifton Harris is an eloquent writer and a credit to New Orleans. sp, n.o.

Kathy said...

My cats said to thank you for the link showing the Downy Woodpecker. ;-)

K. said...

Downy woodpeckers...mmmm...