Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1947. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Screenplay by Richard Murphy, based on the article by Fulton Oursler. Cinematography by Norbert Brodine. Produced by Louis De Rochemont. Music by David Buttolph. Production Design by Richard Day, Chester Gore. Costume Design by Kay Nelson. Film Editing by Harmon Jones. Academy Awards 1947. Cannes Film Festival 1947.
An elderly minister is about to cross the street in his quiet Connecticut town when he is gunned down by an unknown assailant who then flees. The case captures the attention of the entire state when Arthur Kennedy is fingered by a disparate group of witnesses who believe without a doubt that he is the culprit. When state prosecutor Dana Andrews is assigned to put Kennedy away, he finds there are confusing pieces in the evidence puzzle that don’t quite add up to an open-and-shut case. This early Elia Kazan feature, based on a true story, features terrific performances from a sturdy cast; Kennedy is particularly effective as the man who insists he is a wronged victim of circumstance. The film claims to have been filmed in the real places where the story takes place–various sources differ as to the legitimacy of this claim–but either way it’s obvious from the grimy walls and messy streets that it was not shot in a studio or on a back lot, and the gritty realism of the locality adds much to the dramatic effect of the story. Lee J. Cobb, always a storm about to break, is memorable as the lead homicide detective whose methods of interrogation are almost as vicious as the crime itself.