The People vs. Paul Crump

USA 1962
Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Major James Harris, Mary Alice Harris

60 Min. | OV | Originalversion


William Friedkin‘s television debut exhibits an impetuous force. What begins as the documentarian portrait of a man who was in 1953 sentenced to death forarmed robbery and murder (a crime that was never completely solved) and has been waiting for his execution for nine years, quickly turns to a searing attack on a justice system that regularly employs violence and torture. In re-enacted scenes that are reminiscent of 1940s and 1950s b-movies, Friedkin tells an alternate tale of the robbery that cost a security guard his life and resulted in the conviction of Paul Crump. The borders between documentary and fiction rapidly evaporate and are reminiscent of Phil Karlson‘s or Joseph H. Lewis‘ tough noir-films or the early directorial works by Stanley Kubrick. At the same time, Friedkin‘s coarse black-and-white images, often connected by nearly brutally abrupt editing, give the film its own unique resonance. Even in this early masterpiece, Friedkin was at odds with a world that offers no safety what soever.