In 1620, the Assembly of the Pilgrims decides to emigrate to the young America because of the persecution they suffer by the English crown. The film tells the adventurous journey of the ... See full summary »
Based on the novel of the same name by Graham Greene, this is a story of a French advocate Chavel who, while imprisoned by the Germans during the occupation, trades his material possessions... See full summary »
Kristin Scott Thomas,
In 1932, the nation was shocked when the 14-month-old son of Charles Lindberg was kidnapped, held for ransom, and murdered. Two years later, Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested, convicted,... See full summary »
When the child of world-famous aviator Charles A. Lindbergh is kidnapped from his New Jersey home, speculation about who took him and why grips the entire nation. During the subsequent investigation, the child is found murdered, and a German carpenter named Bruno Richard Hauptmann emerges as the primary suspect. The media buzz surrounding the trial is enormous, and while the facts seem to be against Hauptmann, the wild theories nevertheless continue to proliferate. Written by
Seeing this film recently prompted me to do some reading about the case and the incident it was based on. I've also seen "Crime of the Century" and one or two documentaries on the case. And I ran into a big problem with all of the films after reading Ludovic Kennedy's 1996 Penguin Paperback, "Crime of the Century," originally 1983. Now, I recognize editorial opinion when I see it because I've been involved in scientific research for about thirty years and scientists are a heck of a lot more skilled at covering up their tracks than Brit journalists like Kennedy. So, yes, unquestionably Kennedy believes Hauptmann to be innocent and this conviction influences his prose style and his interpretation of some of the facts. But the facts themselves are so compelling -- some of the tampered documents are reproduced here -- as to leave us with MORE than just a reasonable doubt about Hauptmann's guilt.
I won't go into this in detail except to say that the ACLU would blow a gasket over a media event like this case, one in which the chief defense counsel was a drunk and one of the two eyewitnesses placing Hauptmann in New Jersey at the time was an 87-year-old man who was dug up by the prosecution more than a year after the fact and would probably be considered legally blind today.
But I do want to make one comment about this film. Viz., although he does not appear in this film or any of the documentaries, there was a living human being named Isidore Fisch who was part of a group of friends that included Hauptmann. He was involved in several shady schemes and when he left for Germany, where he died of pneumonia, he owed a lot of money to a lot of people. There is no evidence that Fisch was involved in the kidnapping. The bills were outlawed gold certificates, practically unusable, and anyone could have come into possession of them in some street transaction, buying them for a few cents on the dollar.
This movie, like the documentaries I've managed to catch, pretty much present Fisch as a fictional figure, a character made up on the spot by Hauptmann in a state of panic, which he definitely was not. Seeing Idisore Fisch on the screen as his acquaintances saw him, smooth and guarded, might have left a different impression on the viewer. As far as that goes, there are snapshots of him available which I've never seen used in any of the films about the case.
It doesn't help that some people still consider Hauptmann guilty because, some sixteen years earlier in Germany, he once used a ladder to commit a burglary, or that the special symbols used in the kidnapping notes somehow resemble the insignia of Hauptmann's army unit in World War I, twenty-two years earlier. So what? The guy was fried. It wouldn't happen today unless it were carried out entirely by people who just like to fry somebody once in a while when they're upset.
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