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At the Death House Door (2008)

An investigation of the wrongful death of Carlos DeLuna, who was executed in Texas on December 7, 1989, after prosecutors ignored evidence inculpating a man, who bragged to friends about committing the crimes of which DeLuna was convicted.
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WHO TOOK JOHNNY is an examination into an infamous thirty-year-old cold case: the disappearance of Iowa paperboy Johnny Gosch, the first missing child to appear on a milk carton. The film ... See full summary »

Directors: David Beilinson, Michael Galinsky, and 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Carroll Pickett ...
Himself - Retired Minister
Steve Mills ...
Himself - Chicago Tribune
Maurice Possley ...
Himself - Chicago Tribune (as Maury Possley)
Anne Ellis ...
Herself - Pickett's Daughter
Charlotte Hirschfelder ...
Herself - Pickett's Daughter
Karel Henry ...
Herself - Pickett's Daughter
Ed Garza ...
Himself - Former Police Detective
Jim Willett ...
Himself - Prison Museum Director
Roy Villanueva ...
Himself - Inmate Choir Director
Rodney Smith ...
Himself - Former Inmate
Preston Rodrigues ...
Himself - Former Inmate
Fred Allen ...
Himself - Shipping Broker
Steven Pickett ...
Himself
Rose Rhoton ...
Herself
Dave Atwood ...
Himself
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An investigation of the wrongful death of Carlos DeLuna, who was executed in Texas on December 7, 1989, after prosecutors ignored evidence inculpating a man, who bragged to friends about committing the crimes of which DeLuna was convicted.

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Documentary

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9 March 2008 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
Powerful Testimony from an Eye Witness
5 April 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Saw this at the Full-Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina. It is a powerful indictment of the death penalty--at times maddening, at times heart-breaking.

If there is a fault in the film as a film (rather than as a polemic) it is that it can't quite decide whether it wants to be a profile of Pickett and really probe the psychological and spiritual costs of the death penalty or whether it wants to parley his testimony into a piece of anti-death penalty activism anchored on claims of wrongful execution and the investigative reporters' examination of the De Luna case

The most powerful and effective parts are comprised of Pickett's narrative, not just about the De Luna case but about how being in such a job has shaped and cost him. Perhaps because Pickett has been (and is) more of an outspoken activist since leaving his position, the film almost feels compelled to follow the narrative outside of the prison and the accounts of being "At the Death House Door" to a more overt and underlined conclusion than is necessary. It would probably be more powerful if it told Pickett's (and De Luna's) story and trusted in the power of the words and images to make the points it hammers home in the last 15-20 minutes of the film. (Maybe a slight edit would help, too.)

Still, this is picking nits at what is an effective and important piece of documentary film-making. For or against the death penalty, one has to acknowledge that Pickett has first-hand, eye-witness experience with the process and is thus uniquely situated to comment on it.


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