CAUGHT IN THE CROSS HAIR:
These two men are about to be caught in the crosshairs of fear and disbelief. We have the janitor Tump Redwine ( Clinton Rosemund ) who reports the murder and knows that, if history is any judge, he could be blamed for killing Mary Clay. He’ll do and say anything to save his neck; even implicate someone else. We also have a young Northern couple: Edward Norris and Gloria Dickson face circumstantial evidence against him for the young girl’s murder. They never fit in in the town and it dawns on them both that their life is about to go from bad to worse. A bit obscured but the first shot below left, is an overhead shot of Janitor Redwine being
third-degree’d “questioned” that was excised from the film when it played in Maryland.
DICKSON: “They can’t convict you. You’re
NORRIS: “That won’t make any difference to
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POLITICS / THE LAW:
If CLAUDE RAINS wants to recite the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address or read aloud Julia Childs’ cookbook, I would sit at his feet in rapt attention. He’s good in all he does. Here he’s rather loose-y goose-y if you know what I mean. He does a fantastic job, except he’s galling. As a politician, he should KNOW
better. He’s elected by the people, for the people. He’s out for himself. He’s working AGAINST the people and against justice. He’s the Prosecutor and needs a big break to propel his political ambition. With the death of Mary Clay, getting this conviction would be a stepping stone to a bigger career as Senator. Now you’d think he’d want to convict the right person, right? Ha! Silly me. And silly you if you believe in ethics.
“Applause means votes.”
I don’t think Rains really believes our hero is guilty. But he needs that conviction.
A wife’s plea to do the right thing is no match for a politician’s naked ambition.
The Prosecutor sends out his detectives to investigate for evidence. But these detectives seem more like strong arm henchmen to me. So many laws are broken in the effort to get a conviction. Suspects are questioned without benefit of an attorney, no bail set, witnesses are intimidated, premises are checked without a warrant. Warrant? WARRANT?!! They don’ need no steenking warrants. Conducting the law this way gets you all the circumstantial evidence a Prosecuting Attorney needs.
They’ve made their bed. For these business men, it’s too late to turn back now.
So on the flimsiest evidence, Rains is ready to indict and go to trial. Initially all of this publicity was good for business – for merchants and attorneys alike. Great publicity. ( Think “Ace in the Hole” ). But as events play out and start snowballing, Rains tries to sidestep any blame in all this. Oh no mon frere, you’re in deep up to your keister in railroading. And when some of the businesses in town start to feel the pinch of notoriety and heat of the spotlight, they want to back out, but Rains won’t let them. He
handcuffs, ties their hands to his. Let the theatrics begin:
Witnesses and jury are threatened and suborned
Newspaper rivals Allyn Joslyn and Frank Faylen, stoking the fire…feeding the beast.
It’s great how LeRoy sets this all up. At the start of the movie we see how the young teacher explains all his actions to his wife. Innocent enough. But later on in the movie as we go to trial, those very same actions take on a different hue. We now have courtroom antics worthy of Clarence Darrow or Johnny Cochrane. It’s the trial of the century. And Rains is up for it. There’s a built-in bias of the court, over-ruling valid objections, dueling mothers, sensational testimony; practically, if the dress is ripped…you must acquit!
“They Won’t Forget.” Not the accused young teacher, nor the attorneys, nor the poor janitor who doesn’t want that rope noosed around his neck. No one will forget. You be the judge. Do they have the right man? Frankly, my dear, they don’t give a damn.
( H O M E )