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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, and executed. This film dramatizes the investigation against Hauptmann, the trial, and the execution, painting a picture of a corrupt police force under pressure to finger a killer framing an innocent man by manufacturing evidence, paying-off and blackmailing witnesses, and covering up exculpatory evidence. Written by
Steve Derby <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is a great film. Stephen Rea and Isabella Rosellini are wonderful as Hauptmann and his wife. There was a tv film made about the Lindbergh case in 1976 that was very simplistic and accepted the case against Hauptmann at face value. This film, like Ludovic Kennedy's excellent book, dare to be different. As they say in the film, the case against Hauptmann smells like a cesspool. All of the evidence against him was either manufactured or misrepresented. There is no doubt this man was sent to his death because of a diabolical frame up. They do an excellent job of showing it point by point. Hauptmann was beaten by the police. There were only two witnesses at the trial who placed him anywhere near Lindbergh's house. One of them was an old man who was legally blind and the other was a man with a criminal record and a reputation as a pathological liar. Hauptmann's lawyer was an alcoholic who told several people he wanted him executed! Lindbergh claimed he could identify Hauptmann's voice and yet he had only heard the kidnapper say two words over two and a half years earlier. Doctor John Condon who gave the ransom to the kidnapper, testified at the trial it was Hauptmann and yet he failed to identify Hauptmann when he first saw him in a police lineup and then said he was NOT the man he saw. There was evidence the police doctored and forged handwriting samples from Hauptmann to make them appear like the writing on the ransom notes. There have been many experts who said Hauptmann DIDNT write the notes. One key piece of evidence at the trial was a board taken from Hauptmanns closet that had Condon's phone number written on it. I saw an interview once with a member of the jury who said this was the evidence that convinced her the most Hauptmann was guilty. Yet, there was a reporter for a tabloid newspaper who admitted HE had written it in the closet. He said he didn't think anyone would take it seriously because the closet had already been searched. Hauptmann was found with some of the ransom money hidden in his garage. He claimed a man named Fisch had given him the money and then gone back to Germany and died. The newspapers called this "The Fish Story". There is overwhelming evidence there really was a man by this name and he was a known mobster who might have been the real culprit behind the kidnapping. This is a film that should be seen because it tells of a time when justice erred and an innocent man paid with his life.
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