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 shouts “Seven 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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”