Based on a 1924 murder, BOOMERANG is a story of circumstantial evidence,corrupt politicians,inefficient police practice and a crusading prosecutor who ends up proving the innocence of the man he is supposed to be prosecuting.

The real life crime was never solved.

A priest is gunned down in a small town’s main street . A man is seen running away.


A newspaper headline shoutsSeven witnesses agree on slayer!”
Dana Andrews is the States Attorney who will lead the prosecution. Lee J.Cobb,assisted by Karl Malden, is in charge of the police investigation.

City Hall,lead by Robert Keith and Ed Begley want quick results, with an election on the horizon.

Cobb tells Andrews that he feels like quitting,saying,”It’s turning into a political three ring circus and I’m no politician,I’m a cop.”

Suspects are picked up from all over the state. “A dark coat and a light hat” is the only description the police have.

Arthur Kennedy has the right kind of gun that was used in the shooting and was in town at the time.

Arthur Kennedy

Cara Williams, Arthur Kennedy, Lee J. Cobb


The police question him for hours ,though he has asked for a lawyer. They wont let him sleep.Exhausted, Kennedy admits guilt. They have to hold his hand to sign the confession before he collapses.It’s brutal and so obviously unfair . Cobb admits,”What a way to make a living.”


Arthur Kennedy

Arthur Kennedy

Dana Andrews goes to see Kennedy who says, “Sure I confessed. After two days in that joint, I’d have confessed to anything.”

Dana drops a bombshell when he announces that he thinks Kennedy is innocent,even though his job as public prosecutor is to present the case for the prosecution.

At a prelimnary court hearing, Dana pulls apart several of the witnesses’ stories.

In an excellent flashback,Andrews and his men re-enact the crime from different angles.They cant identify the figure seen running away. He also proves Kennedy’s gun wasn’t the one used by the killer.


Lee J.Cobb

Lee J.Cobb


The film’s plot has something of TWELVE ANGRY MEN, CALL NORTHSIDE 777 and BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. It has a great cast which also includes Sam Levene as a cynical reporter and Cara Williams as a vengeful ex-girlfriend of Kennedy.

Jane Wyatt, as Dana Andrews’ wife, gets second billing though she is only in a couple of scenes.

I couldn’t figure out the meaning of the title,BOOMERANG. I found two explanations on line. One reviewer said : “Boomerang is about the truth,when thrown away,always comes back in force.”

Another explanation was that “the people who framed the accused threw everything they could at him and it came right back to them.”


Karl Malden

Arthur Kennedy, Karl Malden

In the above scene, an angry mob get very close to a lynching.


Much of what is portrayed in the film regarding the detective work done by the attorney is based on the facts of the original 1924 case.

In 1924, in  the summation by the real life States Attorney,Homer Cummings, he said: “It goes without saying that it is just as important for a State’s Attorney to use the great powers of his office to protect the innocent as it is to convict the guilty.”



Arthur Kennedy, Dana Andrews


This review is my contribution to the 1947 Blogathon . Links to lots  more 1947 film reviews  can be found at and







14 responses »

  1. I nearly used that word,’ procedural’.
    . I found it fascinating reading about the original 1924 investigation and about this States Attorney who defended rather than prosecuted when he got the facts.
    I was disappointed when Lee J. Cobb’s character didn’t even admit at the end that he didn’t do a very good job.

  2. Love the different theories about the title – although I prefer the first one! I always enjoy ‘based on true story’ films, it always adds a little extra to the story.

  3. Great pick, I like this movie a lot (love Andrews’ and Kennedy’s work here) and glad when it gets attention. Interesting about the title, in keeping with the theme of corruption. Thanks so much for taking part in the blogathon 🙂

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