- They Won't Forget
name = They Won't Forget
Mervyn LeRoy Jack Warner
Robert Rossen Aben Kandel Ward Greene(novel)
Claude Rains Gloria Dickson Lana Turner
editing = Thomas Richards
Warner Bros. Pictures
July 14, 1937
runtime = 95 min
country = United States
language = English
amg_id = 49436
imdb_id = 0029658
"They Won't Forget" is a 1937 film directed by
Mervyn LeRoy(who was uncredited). It was based on a novel by Ward Greene called "Death in The Deep South", which was in turn a fictionalized account of a real life case: the trial and subsequent lynchingof Leo Frankafter the murder of Mary Phagan in 1913. The film was also the film debut of actress Lana Turner.
A southern town is rocked by scandal when teenager Mary Clay is murdered on
Confederate Memorial Day. A small-time lawyer with political ambitions, Andrew Griffin, sees the crime as way to the Senate if he can find the right scapegoat to be tried for the crime. He seeks out Robert Hale, Mary's teacher at the business school where she was killed. Even though all evidence against Hale is circumstantial, Hale happens to be from New York (Leo Frank was a Southerner from Texas, but he was Jewish and had been raised in New York), and Griffin works with a reporter to create a media frenzy of prejudice and hatred against the teacher. The issue moves from innocence or guilt to the continuing bigotry and suspicion between South and North, especially given the significance of the day of the murder.
The film shows the immense pressures brought to bear on members of the community to help in the conviction - the black janitor who is induced to lie on the stand for fear he himself will be convicted and executed, or lynched, if Hale isn't found guilty; the juror who tries to retain his freedom to make up his own mind; the barber who is afraid to testify to something he knows is true because it could exonerate Hale. The only man who stands up to the mob mentality of the town is the governor, who commutes Hale's death sentence to life imprisonment because the evidence is simply insufficient to send a man to his death. The townsfolk are enraged, and the murdered girl's brothers, who have been threatening all along to take matters into their own hands if Hale isn't executed, plot and carry out Hale's abduction and murder.
*imdb title | id= 0029658 | title=They Won't Forget
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