Elia Kazan

BY Travis Mackenzie HooverPublished Sep 8, 2008

When is a liberal movie not a liberal movie? When it’s so tied to the concepts of "common” values that it looks like a 12-year-old keener on a mission for extra credit. That’s the sad fate of Boomerang, an early Elia Kazan effort that’s more stuffy than subversive. Dana Andrews stars as a state’s attorney prosecuting a case against an alleged priest murderer. It seems like a slam-dunk conviction at first, only Andrews digs deeper and discovers that the man may be innocent and is certainly a pawn to re-elect certain politicians. Thus armed with the ambiguous truth and the obvious sins of those in power, our man exposes the manipulation of evidence and blows the trial wide open. Except "blowing the trial wide open” in this case is so dependent upon the sanctity of the system that you could be forgiven for thinking the effort slightly conservative. Andrews is a one-dimensional good man whose dogged efforts are less praiseworthy than tedious, and the political sins he discovers are so mechanically presented they seem ticked off on a checklist. This is a movie that assumes the uprightness of our institutions instead of analyzing them and wags its fingers at bad apples instead of investigating how the set-up rewards their behaviour. It’s a conformist’s muckraker, high on the self-righteousness of its defence of "little people,” a defence so condescending as to throw its sincerity in serious doubt. No wonder Kazan squealed to the HUAC — only a person this authoritarian in his left politics could flip over so easily and without repentance. Extras include an excellent commentary by James Ursini and Alain Silver, and various poster/photo galleries.

Latest Coverage