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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ben Loeterman appeals The People vs. Leo Frank

click to enlarge THE PEOPLE VS. LEO FRANK: Leo Frank (Will Janowitz) is sentenced to jail following his conviction for the murder of Mary Phagan.
  • THE PEOPLE VS. LEO FRANK: Leo Frank (Will Janowitz) is sentenced to jail following his conviction for the murder of Mary Phagan.

By David Lee Simmons

The Leo Frank case has been examined and re-examined over the years. It's been the subject of four film works and numerous books, the most recent of which put into even clearer perspective the trial that eventually re-energized the Ku Klux Klan and emboldened the Anti-Defamation League.

So it's a pleasant surprise that The People vs. Leo Frank — writer/director Ben Loeterman’s half documentary, half re-enactment — still feels fresh in its depiction of Georgia’s most infamous murder trial.

Part of it is the timing: The movie comes more than 20 years after the last film work, the Emmy-winning mini-series starring Jack Lemmon and then-unknowns Peter Gallagher, Kevin Spacey and Cynthia Nixon. It also comes on the heels of Emory film studies chair Matthew Bernstein’s book about all four film works, Screening a Lynching.

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(Photo Courtesy BLPI Inc.)

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