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Boomerang! (1947)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 1947 (UK)
The true story of a prosecutor's fight to prove the innocence of a man accused of a notorious murder.



(screenplay), (based upon an article published in The Reader's Digest December, 1945) (as Anthony Abbot)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Dave Woods - 'Morning Record' Reporter
T.M. Wade
Mac McCreery
Paul Harris


This dramatization of a factual incident opens in a quiet Connecticut town where a kindly priest is murdered while waiting at a street corner. The citizens are horrified and demand action from the police. All of the witnesses identify John Waldron, a nervous out-of-towner, as the killer. Although Waldron vehemently denies the crime, no one will believe him. District Attorney Henry Harvey is then put on the case and faces political opposition in his attempt to prove Waldron's innocence. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


As "Boomerang!" happened in life - So "Boomerang!" comes to the screen - Real! True! Authentic! (Newspaper ads). See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1947 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Perfect Case  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,140,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Some of the people appearing in "Boomerang" were local townspeople, not professional actors, which certainly added to the authentic look and feel of the film. Reputedly their legal agreements caused a problematic rights situation when attempts were made to release "Boomerang" on home video in later years (although televised broadcasts were not seemingly a problem). "Boomerang" was scheduled for a VHS release in the 1990's, and was abruptly cancelled just before its scheduled release date. It was released for a very brief time on DVD in 2006, which resulted in an almost immediate recall. It was finally released on DVD with no further problem in 2008. See more »


Off-Screen Narrator: ...But his everyday work was with the people of his parish, and especially with those who sought his advice and counsel. Since he was a man of God, his labors sometimes led him into the strains and secret places of mens' souls. He was just and forgiving, but he was also a man, and a stern and uncompromising judge of character.
Father George A. Lambert: [Speaking to an anguished-looking middle-aged man] Stop that! Even if I wanted to forgive you, I... I couldn't. It's out of my hands.
Father George A. Lambert: Jim, you're a sick man.
Jim Crossman - Killer: But ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits listed in the form of pages of a book See more »


Referenced in Backstory: Gentleman's Agreement (2001) See more »


America, the Beautiful
Music by Samuel A. Ward
Played during the opening sequence and at the end
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User Reviews

About a man of integrity
17 June 2007 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Elia Kazan's 1947 docudrama Boomerang dramatizes the courage and independence of a Connecticut States Attorney who stood up to political pressure and fought for dismissal of charges against a defendant accused of murder because he wasn't convinced of his guilt. The film (which I first saw as a boy) is based on an actual killing that took place in 1924 in which a popular parish priest was shot on a main street in Bridgeport, Connecticut in full public view. In spite of the public nature of the killing, the murderer escaped and no suspects were immediately apprehended. Using an unseen narrator to provide background information, the film achieves a hard-hitting realism, conveying the feeling that you are watching events as they unfold.

Produced by Louis de Rochemont, well known for films dramatizing real events such as "House on 92nd Street" and "13 Rue Madeline", performances are uniformly excellent, particularly those of Dana Andrews as Henry Harvey, the idealistic States Attorney, Lee J. Cobb as Police Chief Robbie Robinson, Arthur Kennedy as John Waldron, the ex-GI murder suspect, and Ed Begley as the corrupt Commissioner Paul Harris. The film stays fairly close to actual events with the exception that the States Attorney is shown as an unknown lawyer looking to make a name for himself not the nationally known former Mayor and candidate for US Senate.

Boomerang begins with a description of the crime and then in a flashback shows the priest asking his assistant to get help for his unstated problems and threatening to have him confined in a hospital. This thread is left hanging but Kazan tantalizes the viewer, suggesting without offering any evidence that the troubled assistant had a motive to kill the priest. When the investigation stalls, pressure is put on the police to come up with a suspect and Dave Woods (Sam Levene), a local newspaper reporter, runs a series of stories criticizing the City government for its inaction in hopes of achieving political power for the paper's owner.

After innocent people are arrested simply because they wore clothing that resembled what the killer is alleged to have worn the night of the murder, a disheveled veteran, John Waldron (Arthur Kennedy), is arrested in Ohio in possession of a handgun and returned to Connecticut. Several eyewitnesses pick out Waldron as the killer and the bullet is identified as coming from Waldron's gun. When Police Chief Robinson (Lee J. Cobb), finally extracts a confession after grilling Waldron for many hours, the case seems open and shut.

At the preliminary hearing, however, Harvey is guided by the legal code of ethics that the prosecutor's job is not to gain convictions but to see that justice is done and has doubts about the evidence, arguing against a conviction. Most of the film's dramatic moments take place in the courtroom but there is a back story involving municipal corruption, a theme that Kazan would visit again ten years later in "A Face in the Crowd".

The shocking turnaround by the States Attorney does not sit well with party official Paul Harris (Ed Begley) who invested his savings in a corrupt land deal and needs the present government to remain in power to buy that land from him. Fearing economic ruin, he threatens Harvey and insists the prosecutor try to convict Waldron whether or not he is innocent. The prosecutor remains steadfast, however, and the intense courtroom drama keeps us riveted until the surprising outcome is revealed.

31 of 40 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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