After a few days, in which the police can't seem to find any leads on who might have done the deed, the newspapers begin dragging the reform party's city officials through the mud. The reform party is obviously upset, and eventually a candidate for the murderer actually is found (a great Arthur Kennedy). He is, however, innocent, and although the film makes that fairly clear to us from the beginning, it is important politically that the party gets a conviction, so they railroad him. This becomes easier and easier when his alibi crumbles, eight people are willing to say they saw him commit the murder, and ballistics people at the police station testify that the bullet that killed the man came from Arthur Kennedy's gun. Still, we know the man is innocent, and better yet, the State's Attorney (played by Dana Andrews) knows it and is willing to fight for this man's freedom.
In a scene that struck me as very typical of the kind of justice in which Kazan was interested, Dana Andrews has a conversation with one of the city officials.
Dana: It's the boy's life.
City Official: If he's innocent! ... And even if he were is it worth it? We've cleaned out the city, we've thrown out the crooks, the grafters. We've made this town a decent place to live! Is one man's life worth more than the community?
Dana: Yes, Mac. It is.
City Official: Ok. Well. You'll have to fight the whole town.
But check out how this scene is coded. We're in Lambert's office, and the first thing we hear is:
Lambert: Stop that! Even if I wanted to forgive you I – I couldn't. It's out of my hands. Jim, you're a sick man.
Jim: But father, I –
Lambert: We've been through it all before. I can't help you. A sanitarium perhaps.
Jim: No, I won't. If – if people –
Lambert: It's not people. It's you. I've told you that before. This time, fortunately, no great harm has been done. The next time... No I can't let you go on any longer. It's got to be a sanitarium. Have you... spoken to your mother about this?
Jim [in total panic]: You wouldn't tell her!
Lambert: I haven't spoken to anyone.
The scene continues for a little longer, but then Jim looks at him very strangely and walks off. It is obvious that he did it. But why? What is he protecting? The mother for me is the dead giveaway. What forty-year-old man is concerned what his mother thinks? But of course there is also the sanitarium, the fact that whatever has been going on makes him "sick," the fact that they've "been through it all before". It is worth noticing, too, that the man himself believes that it is people who need to change, and the man of god who believes the "great harm" lives inside the man himself: "It's not people. It's you." he says with real gravity.
|Gay and Main|
But in Boomerang! homosexuality signifies the unsolvable, the inexplicable, a dark and secret place in the corner of a town that serves to disrupt the peace in a violent, terrifying way, all the more violent and terrifying because it is unspeakable, totally unassimilable to what we can be permitted to know about humanity.
Before I totally let this go, I just want to note that Boomerang! begins by telling us in voice over that although this happened in Connecticut, this is a story that can happen in any city in America. Very specifically the narrator says that "you may have other names for your streets, but whether you call them Center Street or North Street or Main Street, they're not much different from these." Immediately the camera pans down to a street sign. Father Lambert is killed at the corner of Gay and Main.
|Arthur Miller Cameo in Boomerang!|