In early twentieth-century Atlanta, the murder of a young girl prompts strong reactions from the community, and ultimately leads to the arrest of a man who may actually be innocent.




Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Series cast summary:
 Gov. John Slaton (2 episodes, 1988)
 Hugh Dorsey (2 episodes, 1988)
 Tom Watson (2 episodes, 1988)
 Leo Frank (2 episodes, 1988)
 Sally Slaton (2 episodes, 1988)
 Lucille Frank (2 episodes, 1988)
 William Burns (2 episodes, 1988)
 Jim Conley (2 episodes, 1988)
 Wes Brent (2 episodes, 1988)
 Doreen (2 episodes, 1988)
 Luther Rosser (2 episodes, 1988)
Thomas Anderson
(2 episodes, 1988)
(2 episodes, 1988)
 Coroner (2 episodes, 1988)
(2 episodes, 1988)
Beeson Carroll
(2 episodes, 1988)
William C. Crawford ...
 Witness (2 episodes, 1988)
David Cromwell
(2 episodes, 1988)
 Annie Maude Carter (2 episodes, 1988)
William Duff-Griffin
(2 episodes, 1988)
Jennifer East
(2 episodes, 1988)
Barbara Eda-Young ...
 Mrs. Phagan (2 episodes, 1988)
Gwyllum Evans
(2 episodes, 1988)
Carl Gordon
(2 episodes, 1988)
Sam Gray ...
 Sigmond Montag (2 episodes, 1988)
Richard Hamilton
(2 episodes, 1988)
 Newt Lee (2 episodes, 1988)
 Randy (2 episodes, 1988)
 Alonzo (2 episodes, 1988)
(2 episodes, 1988)
William Newman
(2 episodes, 1988)
Owen Rachleff
(2 episodes, 1988)
(2 episodes, 1988)
Fred Sadoff
(2 episodes, 1988)
(2 episodes, 1988)
Brian Smiar
(2 episodes, 1988)
(2 episodes, 1988)
Jimmie Ray Weeks
(2 episodes, 1988)
Nicholas Wyman ...
 Lund (2 episodes, 1988)
Wendy J. Cooke ...
 Mary Phagan (2 episodes, 1988)


From a true story. In Atlanta in 1913, a 13-year-old girl is murdered in the factory where she works. The factory manager, a Jew named Leo Frank, is convicted and sentenced to hang. Georgia Governor John Slaton suspects that Frank may have been railroaded by public desire for revenge and hatred of Frank's religion and northern (US) ties. But as a rising politician, Slaton also knows that to violate such strong public opinion by questioning the judgment would be political suicide. Will his conscience overcome his ambition? Written by Ken Yousten <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | History


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Asesinato de Mary Phagan  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


At one point, Lucille (Rebecca Miller) visits Leo (Peter Gallagher) in prison and tells him: "Seems like we spend the best part of our time just saying goodbye." This line is almost identical to the famous one spoken by Angela (Elizabeth Taylor) to George (Montgomery Clift) when she visits him in prison for the last time in A Place in the Sun (1951), which was directed by George Stevens, the father of this film's co-writer and producer, George Stevens Jr.. See more »


Version of They Won't Forget (1937) See more »

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User Reviews

One of Jack Lemmon's Most Unusual Roles
29 July 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This mini-series captures Jack Lemmon in a strong role as a real historical figure. Governor Slaton of Georgia risked (and ultimately lost) a promising political career in his search for the truth as to what really happened to Mary Phagan. Lemmon is heroic in an understated way----very different than many of the manic-like comedy performances that conspicuously dotted his long career.

The story was filmed before in 1937 by Warner Brothers with Mervyn LeRoy directing as "They Won't Forget." This is the film that launched the career of Lana Turner as a major sex symbol. She played the very small Mary Phagan-like role when just a young teenager---and who could forget her famous stroll through town as she strutted her sexy stuff just before her murder? In "They Won't Forget," the story was changed significantly to eliminate any reference to the Leo Frank-like character as a Jew. Instead, he was depicted as a teacher (not a pencil factory manager) with apparently a Christian background.

"They Won't Forget" was a typical Warner Brothers social drama of the 1930s. It fudged on the facts but was quite gripping and engrossing. Claude Rains may have been somewhat over-the-top as the prosecuting attorney---but he commanded your attention.

On the other hand, "The Murder of Mary Phagan" stays much closer to the true story. It's interesting to compare the two films to see just how much easier it was in 1988 to tell the whole narrative of the Leo Frank case than it was in 1937.

For another source of information on this remarkable historical event, seek out Harry Golden's fine book of many years ago---"A Little Girl is Dead."

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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