In this courtroom drama ripped from the headlines, Arthur Kennedy plays a nervous out-of-towner who is identified by witnesses as the killer of a beloved local priest. When the whole town unties in his condemnation, it’s up to Dana Andrews, as the district attorney, to prove Kennedy’s innocence at the peril of his political career.
For an Elia Kazan (East of Eden, Splendor in the Grass) picture, Boomerang! is more plot-oriented than character-driven. It reminded me a lot of the Scott Peterson case of the early 2000s, in which Peterson was put on Death Row despite the lack of any direct evidence that he committed murder. Kennedy does a great job as the accused, especially when he’s sleep-deprived in interrogation, hanging by a thread of sanity. Andrews suffices, but is perhaps out-shined by supporting players Lee J. Cobb as an antagonistic but respectful police chief, and Ed Begley as a scheming foil who threatens Andrews to tow the line.
While the ‘true story’ angle does make the story more palpable, I could do without the clunky narration scattered throughout the movie, reminding us that “this could happen to you.”
With Jane Wyatt stuck in a thankless, dutiful wife role.
Oscar Nomination: Best Screenplay (Richard Murphy)