They Won't Forget (1937) | Shop.WarnerArchive.com
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They Won't Forget (1937)



Based on the infamous Leo Frank case, They Won’t Forget is an explosive, acclaimed indictment of bigotry that’s rich in deceptive motives, sudden violence and courtroom suspense.

SKU #: 1000179839

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Made To Order DVD
Genre:   Drama
Rating:
Director:   Mervyn Leroy
Cast:   Claude Rains, Gloria Dickson, Edward Norris, Otto Kruger, Allyn Joslyn
Theatrical Release Date:   07/14/1937
Sale Price:$16.09
$19.99
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Synopsis
A pretty schoolgirl is murdered. An ambitious prosecutor wants publicity. And an outsider – a Northern teacher in a sleepy Southern town – makes a handy defendant, someone the locals will happily convict, innocent or guilty. Based on the infamous Leo Frank case, They Won’t Forget is an explosive, acclaimed indictment of bigotry that’s rich in deceptive motives, sudden violence and courtroom suspense. The talent is as powerful as the story: Mervyn LeRoy (I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang) produced and directed with steady hand and crackling pacing, Robert Rossen (The Hustler) co-wrote the unflinching script, Claude Rains (Casablanca) etches a portrait of the ruthless prosecutor with poison and guile, and in her first credited role, Lana Turner makes the schoolgirl beguiling prey for an unhinged mind.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
They Won't Forget (1937)
 
4.0

(based on 2 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

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  • 1 Stars

     

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Reviewed by 2 customers

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5.0

Great social drama from Warner Brothers

By JLewis

from Sanford, FL

About Me Movie Buff

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Emotionally Engaging
  • Great acting
  • Great Cinematography
  • Original Story

Cons

    Best Uses

    • At Home

    Comments about They Won't Forget (1937):

    I've enjoyed this one enough for multiple viewings. Then again, I like a lot of stuff Claude Rains is in and showcase the thirties WB style.

    This was one of Warner's slightly naughty social commentaries, made five years after the same director's I AM A FUGITIVE FROM THE CHAIN GANG. It may be a tad less forceful than that masterpiece, but still "pretty heavy" drama. (Mervyn Le Roy also did the Oscar winning RKO short THE HOUSE I LIVE IN, which addressed religious intolerance with Frankie Sinatra crooning.) Many film historians consider it a classic years ahead of its time in subject matter, although you can feel the Production Code forcing much toning-down here, since it may have been a bit too "liberal" initially in script form. Films like these did not showcase a favorable view of the Depression Era South and, no doubt, stirred trouble in some places. THE NEW YORK TIMES may have included it among their Ten Bests, but Georgia viewers were likely less supportive.

    Although all names and locales have been changed (partly by a fictionalized account DEATH IN THE DEEP SOUTH by Ward Green the screenplay uses), this is a thinly disquised recreation of the notorious Leo Frank case of 1913, which many moviegoers were old enough to remember in 1937. A Jewish businessman was accused of murdering an attractive teenaged worker he may or may not have flirted with. Initially sentenced to death, he later got life imprisonment. However he wasn't well protected by the authorities and was lynched by an angry mob in 1915. Attendents even took pictures of his hanging like it was the Super Bowl.

    There is no mention of religion here, being exactly one decade before the "braver" CROSSFIRE and GENTLEMEN'S AGREEMENT, but it resembles other WB features like BLACK LEGION and CONFESSION OF A NAZI SPY that questioned if America really was the "land of the free" for everybody... and while Nazi power in Europe was approaching its climax, prompting many Americans to question if they are any less prejudiced.

    Instead the victimized school teacher here is just a too-educated "Northerner" in an overly dixie-ish state... and his case stirs up a mini-Civil War of sorts among media coverage. Claude Rains is clearly enjoying his role as the prosecuting lawyer eager to use Southern Pride to help him get into the governor's chair... and this Yankee Murderer into a different chair.

    This is hard hitting stuff that could easily relate to many mob hysteria cases of more recent years, but you may need to brush up a little on your history. Since the South of today is very different than it was back then, some modern viewers may be a trifle confused as to why this mild-mannered married guy is so disliked by his neighbors. Intriguingly, this film makes an interesting (and contrasting) companion piece to INTRUDER IN THE DUST (another Archive title here), only that one has a happy ending and the one dark-skinned actor here (played by Clinton Rosmond) is a key "witness" janitor instead of the star victim here.

    (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    3.0

    It blows, but...

    By Jim the Runner

    from Anytown USA

    About Me Movie Buff

    Pros

      Cons

      • Not Interesting

      Best Uses

      • At Home

      Comments about They Won't Forget (1937):

      This is a boring movie, but you DO get to see the famous Lana scenes making it worth the effort and expense.

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