Certainly the bleakest of Hollywood's social conscience cycle of the '30s. At its most impressive in the elaborate opening sequence which rhymes the Memorial Day parade in a Southern town (Civil War veterans waxing nostalgic about the heroic past as they watch) with the murder of a white girl in the school-house (a tightly sweatered Lana Turner making her debut). The subsequent machinations seem a little contrived now as the ambitious DA deliberately selects the most inflammatory of three suspects (not the black janitor but a Northern teacher), planning to railroad him to the death cell and himself to the governor's chair on a wave of Southern pride. And although the script (by Robert Rossen and Aben Kandel) steamrollers through the resulting lynching without having to worry about a happy ending like Fury, Lang's remains the better film because he is more honestly involved with the characters than with the logistics of the plot. One of LeRoy's best films, even so, and the performances (especially Rains as the DA and Joslyn as a greedy journalist) are terrific.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Aben Kandel, Robert Rossen|
Elisha Cook Jr