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|Index||29 reviews in total|
26 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Grim, powerful, 23 October 2001
Author: Wayne Malin (firstname.lastname@example.org) from United States
A young girl (Lana Turner in her first role) is killed in a small Southern town. A Northener, Robert Hale (Edward norris) is accused of it...but is he guilty? It doesn't seem to matter because everybody uses his accusation for their own gain. Fast moving, still relevant (sadly) look at prejudice, gossip, mob rule and media manipulation. Occasionally the characters give out unmotivated speeches (especially Hale's wife), but the movie is very well-written and acted with Claude Rain chewing the scenery again and again. A must see...don't miss this one!
26 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Emotionally gripping piece of American History., 2 June 2000
Author: cabotcove (email@example.com) from Montclair, NJ
Flawless blending of cynicism, humor and tragedy, this re-enactment of a real-life murder in the south consciously downplays the real-life anti-semitism in the real murder of Mary Phagan case, but carry more of an emotional wallop than the Jack Lemmon made-for-TV docudrama -- although the latter is still good on its own terms. Lana Turner has an impressive screen debut as the murder victim. Gloria Dickson is very powerful as the defendant's wife, and Claude Rains is magnificent as the politically minded prosecutor, but Allyn Joslyn as the cynical, burnt out reporter steals the show. A truly excellent example of how historically based movies can be among the most memorable.
18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
North vs. South in this gripping courtroom drama helmed by the great Mervyn LeRoy, 24 November 1998
Author: Glenn Andreiev (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Huntington, NY
A dark haired, southern drawled Claude Rains has an actor's field day as D.A Andy Griffin. Griffin needs to win one sensational court case to move his career foward. He gets it when a Yankee school teacher (Edward Norris) is accused of murdering a high school girl (Fetching Lana Turner in her film debut) Griffin turns the trial into a media circus and a kangaroo court. The ending is grim, and Griffin gets what he wants. Mervyn LeRoy (Warner Brothers' prize director in the 1930's) moves the story along at rocket pace. He gets fine performances out of Rains, Norris, Otto Kruger and a young Elisha Cook Jnr. LeRoy always cut the fat from his films, meaning very rarely will he show an unimportant aspect of the story. (Example: a scene begins with a sobbing janitor calling the police. We see the police leave. Cut to them at the crime scene. Cut to them grilling their first suspect- the janitor- cut to a newspaper headline about the murder. all of this in about 12 seconds) A film far above average.
17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Helluva Fast Civics Lesson, 2 October 2001
Author: telegonus from brighton, ma
Quick-paced film from the late thirties, directed by Mervyn Le Roy, They
Won't Forget in an eminently memorable lesson in how gossip, rumor, innuendo
and ignorance can get a man lynched. Set in the Depression-era South, it
perhaps lacks atmosphere, as I've seen more convincing pictures of this
region. Nor are the actors especially believable as Southerners. Claude
Rains is unable to harness his innate Britishness in his portrayal of the
DA, maybe the film's single biggest drawback. But the other actors, with or
without the appropriate Dixie cadences are superb, notably Allyn Joslyn, in
his movie debut, as an amoral, opportunistic reporter. I'm particularly fond
of Gloria Dickson's heartfelt performance as the accused man's wife, and sad
to read that she died so young. This is an excellent film of its type: the
Warner Brothers 'message picture'. It is not aesthetically pleasing in its
detail or dialogue, but this was not the point. It gets the job done,
stimulates the intellect and the emotions, and moves like lightning.
17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
A lot of heat but not much light in LeRoy's Hollywood version of Mary Phagan murder, 11 January 2003
Author: bmacv from Western New York
One of Warner Brothers' `hard-hitting' social comment dramas of the 1930s,
They Won't Forget leaves viewers all riled up though, today, maybe less at
the judicial process in the Deep South than at Mervyn LeRoy's depiction of
it in the movie. Based not too loosely on the Mary Phagan murder case of
1913, it updates the events to the late Depression and also advances the
victim's age (Phagan was 13; here, the victim an unrecognizable Lana
Turner, in her debut is a student at a small business
It's Confederate Memorial Day, April 26, and the college lets out early, unexpectedly for instructor Edward Norris, a Northerner. But Turner returns for the vanity case she's left behind. Hours later, her body is discovered at the base of an elevator shaft. The town prosecutor (Claude Rains, slinging a Southern drawl) smells a political advantage that might propel him to the state senate, an advantage of no use if the perpetrator is only the illiterate black janitor who found her. Suspicion falls on Norris, and soon the judicial establishment, the press and the townspeople have turned against him. Outside help a detective and a defense attorney prove of no avail. Turner is convicted and sentenced to death; when the governor commutes his sentence, he's lynched (as was Leo Frank in the original case). It's fast, brutal and pretty unsentimental.
LeRoy was known for his slam-bang, take-no-prisoners style but here he dawdles at first. Under the credits is a medley of songs of the South, bolstered by quotations from Lincoln and Robert E. Lee to soften up those touchy audiences in Dixie so they won't know what hit them. When he gets up to speed, however, he doesn't slacken, cutting quick to advance the action his movie's an unstoppable steamroller, just like the judicial railroading of the story (the lynching itself, expressed by a mailbag clipped off its hook by a passing train, is especially and darkly adroit).
But there's a near-fatal flaw in the story. We're meant to harbor persuasive doubts as to Norris' guilt, but the possibility of a suspect other than he is never more than fleetingly entertained. The movie purports to document a miscarriage of justice, but it fails to build an ironclad case.
13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Masterly Crime Drama, 11 February 2002
Author: Ron Oliver (email@example.com) from Forest Ranch, CA
A hideous crime rocks a Deep South community and those
exploited it know THEY WON'T FORGET the part they played
the shame & violence that ensued.
Of all the hard-hitting dramas produced by Warner Brothers Studio in the 1930's, this was one of the most powerful. Absolutely no holds are barred in showing the aftermath of the murder of a pretty college girl and how events took on a life of their own - crushing the innocent lives who got in the way of the town's thirst for revenge. The film starts whimsically with six ancient Confederate veterans - among them Harry Davenport, Harry Beresford & Edward McWade - on a park bench, reminiscing upon the dim past & wondering if their contributions will be remembered. Poignantly, evil is about to reemerge and the old men will soon disappear, the dead ashes of the past engulfed by the passionate flames of the present. An urgent plea against sectarian hatred & mindless violence, the film sweeps the viewer along to its ultimate shattering climax.
Claude Rains gives a knock-out performance as the local politician who sees the murder as a chance to sweep him into the State Senate. Using his considerable vocal talent - even with his somewhat bizarre idea of a Southern accent - Rains steamrollers over nearly everyone else in the cast, deftly showing his character's utter fixation on prosecuting the case.
Kudos should also be extended to Edward Norris as the Northern teacher accused of the murder; Lana Turner as the victim; Elisha Cook Jr. as her strangely nervous boyfriend; and especially Clinton Rosemond as the terrified black janitor who discovers the crime.
Although Warners is at pains at the outset to deny any connection the story might have with an actual occurrence, the film is roughly based on the notorious 1913 murder of Atlanta factory worker Mary Phagan.
16 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Frankly speaking, 2 November 2004
It begins with a disclaimer that all characters are entirely fictitious, etc. etc., and cites as source material a novel, but you can't fool us: It's the Leo Frank trial of 1915, updated to the then-present-day South and with Frank's Judaism carefully removed. Other than that, the details are surprisingly close to the actual trial, and the downbeat ending chillingly mirrors reality. Warner Brothers, known in the 1930s as the socially conscious studio, had a message to flog, and in this case it goes a bit overboard: No character has more than one dimension, and even that excellent actor Claude Rains, as the DA, snarls and rolls his eyes and gesticulates wildly, overdoing the blind ambition bit. But for its day it's a pretty brave and out-there indictment against mob violence, bigotry, and sensationalism, particularly the latter. Indeed, the message one takes from it today is that the media hasn't really grown worse in the intervening years -- there's just more of it.
10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
great courthouse drama, 7 April 2005
Author: RanchoTuVu from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
A stunning courtroom drama set in a small southern town about a northerner working as an instructor at a small local business college accused of the murder of a local girl who was one of his students. With racial and religious overtones, and a terrific performance by Claude Rains as a politically motivated prosecutor. The courtroom scenes are some of the best ever seen on film, with excellent editing and drama that reaches a feverish momentum. Knowing the fate that awaits the accused adds even more gravity to the film. Similar to LeRoy's earlier film, I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, both slam southern justice and have unforgettable endings.
7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Neither will I, 10 February 2007
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"They won't forget" is a tragedy.The first pictures show six old
confederates veterans who play the part of the antique choir.They 'll
come back when the drama is over.
"They won't forget" works as the mechanism of a clock.It's North versus South,Mother versus Mother, populace versus law ,integrity versus political career...It almost outshines Le Roy's previous masterpieces such as "I'm a fugitive from a chain gang" (both Paul Muni and Edward Norris portray men who cannot adapt themselves to the society they're part of:Muni because he 's just returned from war,Norris because he is one of those hateful Yankees for those southerners .
The movie is absorbing from start to finish and contains unforgettable scenes: -The parade ,our memorial day (which has not the same meaning for Hale) -Hale caught up in the system when the cops come to question him.
-The black janitor,crying "I didn't do it!I didn't do it!I'm afraid! I'm afraid! .The actor's performance is intense matching Claude Rains' and the rest of the uniformly good cast's .
-Joe Turner (Elisha Cook jr) claiming his innocence to Mary's sister ;it's so realistic we can see him sputter!
-the scene when Hale's wife (Gloria Dickson) gets his mother at the station where people are looking forward to watching a sensational trial.Everybody gathers for the feast as they will do in Billy Wilder's "Ace in the hole" (1951)
-the beautiful scene between the governor and his wife;this is the only one which leaves some hope about the human race.
-the train where we feel an impending threat,hellbound train indeed!
-Sybil's final words ,when she curses those who killed her husband ;actually the D.A.was not the only one responsible for the tragedy.The whole town played a part,from a coward barber to a hateful school principal ,from the greedy for scoops journalists to anonymous avengers .
"They won't forget" is a must.
9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Searing, 12 February 2005
Author: (firstname.lastname@example.org) from New York, NY
This may well be the most depressing movie ever made. Based on a notorious murder case, the audience is spared nothing. I think it took guts for producer Mervyn Leroy to make this film. Many theaters refused to show it. The role of a lifetime for actor Claude Rains, I was impressed by the performance of the actress who plays the wife of the victim of a trial that never should have been. It takes a strong stomach to sit through until the end. The film did win awards, but the Academy of Arts and Sciences was afraid to touch it. In real life the victim of the miscarriage of justice was exonerated many years later, but the political career of the Governor who tried to commute his sentence was ruined.
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