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The 1927 Murder That Became a Media Circus—And a Famous Movie

The 1927 Murder That Became a Media Circus—And a Famous Movie


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A housewife and salesman have an affair, then hatch a plot to kill her husband and claim insurance money on his death. If this sounds like a film noir plot, that’s because it is; it’s the plot of James Cain’s 1943 hardboiled crime novella Double Indemnity and the 1944 film adaptation. But it’s also what happened in the real-life crime that Double Indemnity was based on.

On March 20, 1927, Ruth Snyder claimed two “giant Italians” had broken into her house in Queens and knocked her unconscious. They tied her up and left her in the hallway, she said. Then, while her 9-year-old daughter was still asleep, they killed her husband and stole her jewelry.

Police were immediately suspicious because Snyder didn’t look like she’d been knocked out. They also found her “stolen” jewelry stuffed under her mattress. Within a few hours, she gave up the name of the married corset salesman she was sleeping with—Henry Judd Gray—and pinned the murder on him.

When the police got to Gray, he confessed but accused Snyder of seducing him and planning the murder of her husband, an art editor at Motorboat magazine. Police also discovered that just before her husband’s murder, Snyder forged a double-indemnity insurance policy in his name for nearly $100,000 in the event of his accidental death.

Besides the failed insurance fraud, one of the most notable aspects of the crime was how ineptly Snyder and Gray committed it. They killed Snyder’s husband by hitting him with a weight from a window sash, stuffing chloroform-soaked cotton up his nose and strangling him with picture frame wire. They tried to cover it up as a poorly staged “break-in,” and when that story fell through, the former lovebirds immediately turned on each other.

At the time, journalist Damon Runyon called it the “Dumbbell Murder” because it was just so dumb. Yet for almost a year, it received “press attention far out of proportion to how important the murder was to society as a whole,” says Maurine Beasley, a journalism professor emerita at the University of Maryland. “These were not political figures, these were not people of importance, these were not celebrities—these were ordinary people.”

The driving force behind this coverage was a New York tabloid press war between the Daily Graphic, the Daily News and William Randolph Hearst’s Daily Mirror. To outsell each other, they latched onto stories with little relevance to the public and used lurid details to draw readers in. The tabloids “did not hesitate to make up details because there wasn’t a strict adherence to facts by any means,” Beasley says. Before Snyder and Gray, New York tabloids created a similar media sensation out of the 1922 murder of a reverend and choir singer in New Jersey.

In its coverage, the tabloid press turned Snyder and Gray into sensational figures straight out of a Hollywood movie. This was especially true of Snyder, who became the story’s femme fatale. Tabloids described her as a “synthetic blonde murderess,” a “vampire wife” and—most unusually—“Ruthless Ruth, the Viking Ice Matron of Queens Village,” write Penelope Pelizzon and Nancy West in an October 2005 Narrative article.

Gray also spoke frequently to the tabloids, painting himself as a victim. Before Snyder and Gray’s trial even began, he described his affair with Snyder to the Daily News like this: “She would place her face an inch from mine and look deeply into my eyes until I was hers completely. While she hypnotized my mind with her eyes she would gain control over my body by slapping my cheeks with the palms of her hand.”

This kind of coverage generated huge public interest in the case. “Fifteen hundred people packed the courtroom every day of the trial, while up to 2,000 people mobbed the streets outside,” writes Jessie Ramey in a Spring 2004 Journal of Social History article. Hawkers sold fake tickets for $50 and souvenir vendors sold stick pins featuring a murder weapon—the sash weight—for ten cents.

So how did this whole saga end? In James Cain’s novella, the salesmen (who sells insurance instead of corsets) escapes on a boat to Latin America only to find his female accomplice is on the boat, too. Afraid they will be caught since newspaper accounts of their crime have become “a sensation,” they both commit suicide by jumping overboard at night. In the film version of Double Indemnity, neither make it out of the country. The celluloid salesman kills his girlfriend and waits for the police to take him away.

But somehow, the real ending to the story is even more morbid.

Snyder and Gray were convicted; both died in the electric chair on the same day in January 1928. There were no cameras allowed in the room at Sing Sing Correctional Facility where Snyder’s execution took place, but a photographer still snuck one in on his ankle. At the moment of her electrocution, the photographer lifted his pants leg and pressed a shutter release in his jacket, capturing a blurry picture of her body shaking from the electricity.

The next day, the Daily News ran the photo of Snyder—bound, masked and dying—on the front page under the headline “DEAD!” It sold out in 15 minutes.


The Story of the First Mass Murder in U.S. History

On Labor Day, 1949, Howard Unruh decided to go to the movies. He left his Camden, New Jersey, apartment and headed to the Family Theatre in downtown Philadelphia. On the bill that night was a double feature, the double-crossing gangster movie I Cheated the Law and The Lady Gambles, in which Barbara Stanwyck plays a poker-and-dice-game addict. Unruh, however, wasn’t interested in the pictures. He was supposed to meet a man with whom he’d been having a weeks-long affair.

Unfortunately for Unruh, 28 years old at the time, traffic held him up and by the time he reached theater, a well-known gay pick up spot on Market St., his date was gone. Unruh sat in the dark until 2:20 a.m., bitterly stewing through multiple on-screen loops of the movies. At 3 a.m., he arrived home in New Jersey to find that the newly constructed fence at the rear end of his backyard—one he’d erected to quell an ongoing feud with the Cohens who lived next door and owned the drugstore below the apartment he shared with his mother—had been tampered with. The gate was missing.

It was the final straw. For a couple of years, Unruh had been contemplating killing several of his Cramer Hill neighbors over petty squabbles, perceived slights and name-calling, all which fed into his psychosis. Unruh thought the world was out to get him, so he decided to enact revenge on his little corner of it. He went into his apartment, uncased his German Luger P08, a 9mm pistol he’d purchased at a sporting goods store in Philadelphia for $37.50, and secured it with two clips and 33 loose cartridges. Unable to sleep, he made yet another mental list of his intended targets, a group of local shopkeepers one would find in a 1950s children’s book: the druggist, shoemaker, tailor and restaurant owner. Eventually, Unruh dozed off.

In a few hours, on the morning of Tuesday, September 6, Unruh would embark upon his “Walk of Death,” murdering 13 people and wounding three others in a 20-minute rampage before being hauled off by police after a dangerous firefight. A somewhat forgotten man outside of criminology circles and local old-timers, Unruh was an early chapter in the tragically-all-too-familiar American story of an angry man with a gun, inflicting carnage.

There have been killers since Cain murdered Abel, and Unruh certainly wasn’t the first American to take the lives of multiple victims. The FBI defines a “mass murder” as four or more victims in a single incident (usually in one spot). Serial killers and spree killers fall into their own category, and there’s also a new crowdsourced "mass shooting" tracking system that counts the number of people shot, as opposed to killed, but it’s not an official set of data. What is known is that the United States, with five percent of the world’s population, was home to nearly one-third of the world’s mass shooters from 1966-2012. Before that, mass gun murders like Unruh’s were too rare to be considered a threat.

“There have been notorious killers since America was founded, but you didn’t have the mass shooting phenomenon before Unruh’s time because people didn’t have access to semi-automatic weaponry,” says Harold Schechter, a true crime novelist who has written about infamous murderers going back to the 19th-century.

While the terminology is a bit fungible, Unruh is generally regarded as the first of the “lone wolf” type of modern mass murderers, the template for the school and workplace shooters who have dominated the coverage of the more than 1,000 victims since 2013. Unruh was a distinctive personality type, one that has also come to define those who have followed in his bloody footsteps.

“Unruh really matches the mass murder profile. He had a rigid temperament, an inability to accept frustration or people not treating him as well as he wanted, and a feeling of isolation, all things people accept and move on from,” says Katherine Ramsland, a professor of forensic psychology and the director of the master of arts in criminal justice at DeSales University, as well as the author of some 60 nonfiction books including Inside the Mind of Mass Murderers: Why They Kill. “He had a free-floating anger, held grudges, owned weapons he knew how to use, and decided somebody was going to pay. It’s a typical recipe for internal combustion.”

Unruh learned how to use weaponry in World War II, serving in the 342nd Armored Field Artillery and taking part in the relief of Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge. He occasionally served as a tank gunner and received commendations, although he never rose above the rank of private first class. His commanders said he followed orders well. However, while in combat, he kept meticulous notes of every German he killed. He would mark down the day, hour, and place, and when circumstances allowed, describe the corpses in disturbing bloody detail. After the killings, Unruh’s younger brother, Jim, would tell reporters that he wasn’t the same after the service and that he “never acted like his old self,” but Howard was honorably discharged with no record of mental illness.

Prosecuting attorney Mitchell Cohen questions Unruh in the hospital. Unruh suffered a bullet wound to the hip while barricaded in his apartment. (AP Photo/PX) Cohen points to a drawing of the neighborhood where Unruh killed 13 passersby. Looking on are Camden city detectives and eye witnesses to the shootings. (AP Photo) Unruh sits with hands shackled in Camden City Hall after questioning by detectives. (© Bettmann/CORBIS) Unruh lived on this corner in Camden, New Jersey. (Patrick Sauer)

Back in Camden, Unruh decorated his apartment with war collectibles. His peeling walls were adorned with pistols and bayonets, while machetes and ashtrays crafted out of German shells laid about the room. In the basement, he set up a target range and practiced shooting, even though a low ceiling meant he could only fire from a kneeling or lying position. One gun he shot was a prized Nazi Luger he brought back as a souvenir.

Prior to joining the army in 1942, Unruh had lived a normal, if unremarkable, life. He was born on January 20, 1921 to Sam and Freda (sometimes referred to as Rita) Unruh. They separated when Howard was a boy. He and Jim were raised in Camden by their mother, who worked as a packer at the Evanston Soap Company. The October 1949 psychiatric report that formally declared Unruh insane, noted that Unruh had a “rather prolonged period of toilet training” and “did not walk or talk until 16 months old,” but otherwise he was basically an average unassuming kid. He was pious, regularly read the Bible and attended services at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. Howard was shy, kept to himself for the most part, consumed with his two favorite hobbies, stamp collecting and building model trains. He wasn’t a drinker or a smoker, even as an adult. The yearbook from Woodrow Wilson High noted his ambition was to work for the government and fellow students called him “How.”

Between high school and World War II, Unruh worked a series of blue-collar jobs, which he picked up for a spell after returning from Europe. He worked for a printing outfit, the Acorn Company, and then operated a metal stamping press at Budd Manufacturing, but neither job lasted a year. His one stab at a career came when he enrolled in pharmacy school at Temple University, but he dropped out after a few months. By December of 1948, he was unemployed and living full-time with his mother back in Cramer Hill. He ventured out in his neighborhood, but didn’t have any friends he called upon. A psychiatrist would later write, “After WWII, after [Unruh] returned home, he did not work nor did he any life goals or directions, had difficulty adjusting or solving problems and was, ‘angry at the world.’”

Unruh’s rage festered. In his mind, everyday ordinary happenings became acts of aggression that demanded retribution. And so, he began to keep thorough lists of his grievances and slights, both real and imagined. In the 1949 commitment report, Unruh claimed Mr. Cohen short-changed him five times while Mrs. Cohen told him to turn down his music—the dulcet sounds  of Brahms and Wagner—even though their son Charles was free to aggravate him with his trumpet. Other neighbors on Unruh’s list included: The man and woman who lived below him and threw trash on his back lot, the barber who put dirt in a vacant yard that backed up the drainage and flooded his cellar, the shoemaker who buried trash close to his property, and a mystery boy named “Sorg,” who tapped his electricity to light up the Christmas trees he was selling on the street.

Unruh’s paranoia about what was being said of him around Cramer Hill fueled his persecution complex, he was certain everyone was insulting him. He felt that a number of people knew he was a homosexual and were talking about it, said Mr. Cohen called him a “queer,” said the tailor (and son) was spreading a story that “he saw me go down on somebody in an alley one time,” and was fearful local teenagers who frequently harassed him had seen him at the Family Theatre.

Unruh was a gay man he was up front with the psychiatrists who interviewed him following the massacre. From 1944-46, he’d had a girlfriend, seemingly the only one of his life, but broke it off after telling her he was “schizo” and would never marry her. He told the psychiatrists that she meant nothing to him and that they’d never had sex. Following their break-up, he’d been with a lot of men and said he’d once contracted gonorrhea. After dropping out of Temple in 1948, he kept his room in a Philadelphia lodging house for nearly a year saying that “his interest in religion declined when his sexual relations with male friends increased.” Ann Mitchell, an African-American maid who cleaned the rooms, told detectives investigating the massacre that she’d seen him going to and from his room with other men at all times of the day and added he would write “nigger” in the dust on the writing desk after returning from weekends in Camden. The report noted, “As disliked him, she paid little attention to him and she never suspected him of anything.” Unruh paid his $30 a month on time from September 28, 1948, until August 28, 1949, and then never returned.

The sad irony is that the one aspect of Unruh that people did “suspect,” being a homosexual, was accurate, but he couldn’t live as an open gay man in an era when it wasn’t just societally unacceptable, it was illegal. What most Cramer Hill people didn’t suspect, even while finding him rather strange, was that he was a powder keg. In Seymour Shubin’s article, “Camden’s One-Man Massacre,” which took up the entirety of the December 1949 issue of Tragedy-of-the-Month, tailor Tom Zegrino described a pre-shooting Unruh as “awfully polite. The kind of guy who wouldn’t hurt a flea.” His wife of less than a month Helga, who would be one of Unruh’s last victims added, “I think he’s a nice fellow. He seems devoted to his mother, too. That’s something I like.”

Sometime around 8 a.m. on September 6, just hours after returning from Philadelphia, Unruh was awakened by his mother, who prepared him a breakfast of fried eggs and milk. After eating, Unruh went into the basement and retrieved a wrench, which he raised over her in a threatening manner. “What do you want to do that for, Howard?,” she asked him. Freda would later say her son appeared to be transfixed. She repeated her question over and over before running out of the house to a neighbor, fearing her son had reached the tipping point. (A short while later, after hearing gunfire and putting it all together, Freda fainted.)

Unruh immediately collected his Luger and ammo, a six-inch knife, and a tear gas pen with six shells, and cut through the backyard to the 3200 block of River Road. Dressed in a brown tropical-worsted suit, white shirt, striped bow tie, and Army boots, the lanky 6-foot, 164-pound Unruh shot at a bread deliveryman in his truck, but missed. He then walked into the shoemaker’s store and, without saying a word, shot John Pilarchik, the 27-year-old cobbler who was on his list, in the chest. Pilarchik fell to the floor. Still alive, Unruh fired another round into Pilarchik’s head. A young boy crouched in fear behind the counter.

Unruh walked back out to the street and entered the barbershop next door. Clark Hoover, 33, was cutting the hair of Orris Smith, 6, who sat atop a white carousel-style horse as his mother, Catherine, looked on. The barber tried to protect the child, but Unruh killed the boy with a bullet to the head. A second shot ended Hoover’s life. Unruh ignored Catherine, 42, who carried Orris into the street screaming until a neighbor threw them both in the car and sped away to the hospital. The next day, the horrific scene was described by Camden Courier-Post columnist Charley Humes:

“…People were peering through a big plate glass window, looking at a ‘hobby horse’ in a barber shop that is closed.”

At the base of the standard which held the wooden horse in place was another blotch of blood…the blood of another little boy ‘just past six’ who was having his hair cut in preparation for his first trip to school the next day…”

Back on River Road, Unruh shot at a boy in a window, but missed. He then fired into a tavern across the street owned by Frank Engel. In a 1974 Courier-Post retrospective, Engel said Unruh had never come inside the bar, but that he’d seen him “walk down the street, walking straight like he had a poker in his back and the kids on the corner would make some remarks about him.” Nobody was hit as Engel ran upstairs and grabbed his .38 caliber Luger. Meanwhile, Unruh reloaded and headed into the drugstore to confront his primary targets, the Cohens.

An insurance man, James Hutton, 45, was coming out of the drugstore to see what the commotion was all about. He came face-to-face with Unruh, but didn’t move quickly enough when the killer said excuse me. Realizing his time free of police was growing short, Unruh shot Hutton, saying, “I fired on him once, then stepped over him and went into the store.” He saw Maurice, 40, and his wife Rose, 38, running up the stairs into their apartment. Rose hid in a closet (and put son Charles, 12, in a separate one), but Unruh shot three times through the door before opening it and firing once more into her face. Walking across the apartment, he spotted Maurice’s mother Minnie, 63, trying to call the cops, and shot her multiple times. He followed Maurice onto a porch roof and shot him in the back, sending him to the pavement below.

Maurice Cohen was dead on the sidewalk, but Unruh continued his rampage. Back out on River Road, he killed four motorists who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. He leaned into a car driven by Alvin Day, 24, a television repairman and World War II vet who slowed down at the corner where Hutton’s body lay, and fired. Following Day’s murder, accounts vary, but most likely Unruh next walked out into the street to a car stopped at a red light and fired into the windshield. He instantly killed the driver Helen Wilson, 37, and her mother Emma Matlack, 68, and wounded Helen’s son, John Wilson, 9, with a bullet through the neck. He returned to the same side of the street with the goal of claiming his final two victims.

Unruh entered the tailor shop, looking for Tom Zegrino, but only found Helga, 28. She was on her knees begging for her life when Unruh shot her at close range. Next door, Thomas Hamilton, less than two weeks shy of his third birthday, was playing with the curtain near his playpen and looked out the window. Unruh said he mistook the moving shadows for one of the people he believed was dumping trash in his yard and shot through the window, striking Hamilton with a bullet to the head.

On his final stop after darting back into the alleyway, Unruh broke into a home behind his apartment lot and wounded a mother and son, Madeline Harrie, 36, and Armand, 16, before running out of ammo and retreating to his apartment. By now, sirens were wailing.

In 20 minutes, Howard Unruh had killed 12 and severely wounded four. (The toll would rise to thirteen John Wilson, the 9-year-old car passenger, later died at the hospital.)  His Cramer Hill neighborhood was rattled, to the point where a detective on the scene would say, years later, that the mailman dropped his full bag on the sidewalk, quit his job, and never came back.

Unruh returned to his apartment as a crowd of authorities and neighborhood civilians gathered. In 1949, mass shootings were basically unheard of, so there was no official police protocol. As neighbors milled about, more than 50 officers surrounded the two-story stucco building, and began blasting away at the apartment with machine guns, shotguns, and pistols, even though some in the crowd, estimated to be a thousand people, were in the line of fire.

(How haphazard was police work back then? The magazine Weird N.J. discovered what became of Unruh’s Luger. Detective Ron Conley, following typical 1940s procedure, secured it in his locker. Upon retiring, he brought it home. It was recovered in the early 90s, returned to the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, and marked as evidence.)

During the onslaught, Philip W. Buxton, an enterprising assistant city editor at The Camden Evening Courier, looked up Unruh’s number in the phone book, rang it up, and to his surprise, had the shooter on the line. Buxton chatted with Unruh for a few minutes as the bullets poured into the apartment, shattering window panes.  He asked how many people he’d killed, to which Unruh replied, “I don't know yet, I haven't counted them. But it looks like a pretty good score.” Buxton followed-up asking why he was killing people. Unruh said he didn’t know, but he had to go because “a couple of friends are coming to get me.”

In the chaos, a couple of policemen climbed onto the roof—the same one Maurice Cohen plunged from—and lobbed a tear gas canister into Unruh’s apartment. The first was a dud, but the second was stingingly effective. Five minutes later Unruh called out that he was surrendering. He shouted he was leaving his gun on a desk and walked out the back door with his hands held high. He was patted down and cuffed as gawkers screamed for the mass murderer to be lynched right then and there. One furious cop demand to know, “What’s the matter with you? You a psycho?”

Unruh flatly replied, “I am no psycho. I have a good mind.”

For the next couple of hours, Unruh would be grilled in a Camden detective’s office.

He took full responsibility for the killings and supplied details in a detached clinical manner. During the interrogation, District Attorney Mitchell Cohen (no relation to the druggist) noticed a pool of blood under Unruh’s chair. At one point late in the rampage, Unruh was shot in the buttock or upper leg by Frank Engel, who had taken aim from his upstairs window. Unruh was rushed to Cooper Hospital, the same one as his victims, but surgeons were unable to remove the bullet. Less than 24 hours after his arrest, he was transferred to the Vroom Building for the criminally insane at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, voluntarily. He would remain on the grounds for the next 60 years as Case No. 47,077. Unruh would never stand trial for the “Walk of Death.”

Starting on September 7, a team of psychiatrists examined Unruh for weeks, trying to get an understanding of why he did what he did. Many of their findings weren’t released until 2012, at the request of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He cold-bloodedly explained everything, listing the neighbors who had wronged him, and describing each murder with little emotion. He claimed to feel sorrow for the children he’d killed, but the doctor’s notes indicate he didn’t seem remorseful. Unruh went so far as to say that “murder is sin, and I should get the chair.”

The full accuracy of Unruh’s statements is unknowable because on more than occasion, psychiatrists administered truth serum, a.k.a. narcosynthesis, which was then considered useful. Scientists discredited it in the 1950s because patients often melded fact and fantasy together. (In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled truth serum confessions unconstitutional in Townsend v. Sain.) It’s impossible to know the veracity of the reports from Unruh’s sessions, such as the one where he told a doctor that he’d been in bed with Freda, fondled his mother’s breasts, and that “their privates touched.” However, a psychiatrist notes in a “Personal History” summation that Unruh’s brother James said “once the patient had made advances to him when they were sleeping together, which he, James, had vigorously resisted.”

On Oct. 20, 1949, a Camden County judge signed a final order of commitment based on a diagnosis of “dementia praecox, mixed type, with pronounced catatonic and paranoid coloring.” In standard parlance, he was declared a paranoid schizophrenic. Unruh was considered too mentally ill to stand trial, although the murder indictment remained if ever he were “cured.” (So the missing Luger could have been vital evidence in a trial.) Ramsland believes Unruh’s initial diagnosis was wrong, and that today, he would have been found legally sane.

“He wouldn’t have been diagnosed with schizophrenia because he didn’t have any actual symptoms of schizophrenia, they just didn’t know what else to do in those days,” she says. “Back then, paranoid schizophrenia was kind of a trash-can diagnosis. You could put anything in there, but the criteria have tightened up since. Unruh didn’t have command hallucinations or anything like that. The standard is, are you so floridly psychotic that you don’t know what you’re doing is wrong? You can be psychotic and still get convicted. I suspect Unruh had a personality disorder, but it’s clear he knew what he was doing was wrong and that there were legal consequences. I always found it so odd that they just locked him away and forgot about him.  Thirteen people were killed, are you kidding?”

Unruh’s father Sam was ordered to pay $15 a month for Howard’s upkeep in Trenton. And basically, for the next six decades, Unruh vanished. Occasionally, something would come up like in 1964, Unruh wrote a petition to have his indictment dismissed on the grounds he was insane at the time of the shootings. He withdrew it, probably upon understanding that it would only be useful as a defense in a trial, which he did not want. Freda visited him until her death in 1985, but after that, Unruh didn’t talk much. Over the years, he did take an art class, and in the 1970s had an unrequited crush on a much younger inmate, but for the most part, he kept up with his stamp collection and was known to mop the floors while muttering to himself.

In 1991, a psychiatrist said Unruh had one friendship inside, but actually it was “a person who just keeps talking all the time. Mr Unruh is a good listener.” In 1993, Unruh was transferred to a less restrictive geriatric unit, where he would live out his days. He died on October 19, 2009 at the age of 88.

Technically, Unruh wasn’t the first mass shooter. There had been at least two, including one less that a year before in nearby Chester, Pennsylvania. Melvin Collins, 30, opened fire from a boardinghouse, killing eight before taking his own life, but his story was quickly forgotten. He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Part of the reason Unruh is known as the “father of mass murderer” is that he didn’t follow the typical script. He, somewhat miraculously considering the firepower aimed his way, lived.

“Mass murder is typically a suicidal act in which apocalyptic violence is used to enact extreme vengeance, and it almost always ends in the perpetrator’s death,” says Schechter. “Unruh was the rare exception and he became the public face of a serious horrifying crime.”

Unruh didn’t lack for publicity. It was covered extensively by local newspapers and his homicidal terror was brilliantly re-created by famed New York Times writer Meyer Berger who left Manhattan at 11 a.m., interviewed at least 20 people in Camden by himself, and filed 4,000 words an hour before deadline. For his masterwork, Berger won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. (He sent the $1,000 prize money to Freda Unruh.) The piece remains a staple of journalism scholarship today.

Unruh’s “Walk of Death” is certainly infamous and well known in criminology circles, so it’s a bit curious that he’s fallen off the radar as a public figure. There were periodic articles published about Unruh throughout his long life, especially when Charles Cohen, the boy who hid in the closet, came out publicly after 32 years to denounce the prisoner’s request to be moved to a less-restrictive setting. In 1999, Cohen, 62, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was haunted by the morning, that other mass killings like Columbine brought back the pain, and that he was waiting for the call that Unruh had died. “I’ll make my final statement, spit on his grave, and go on with my life,” he said. Cohen passed away one month before Unruh.

Unruh’s massacre was a watershed crime, but it’s been usurped by other deadlier shooters of the television and internet age. A Google news search of “Howard Unruh” and “Umpqua” turned up no results, while an October 4 New York Times article about profiling mass killers said, “The episode…that some academics view as having ‘introduced the nation to the idea of mass murder in a public space’ happened in 1966, when Charles Whitman climbed a tower at the University of Texas at Austin and killed 16 people.”

Schechter says another reason Unruh isn’t as renowned is because the “Walk of Death” was seen as a stand-alone atrocity of a “crazy.” Mass murder wasn’t a regular occurrence and Unruh didn’t spark copycats—Whitman was years later—so it didn’t tap into common fears of the post-World War II generation. “Unruh’s killings were seen as a weird aberration and not something the culture was obsessed by, so he didn’t immediately enter into a larger American mythology,” says Schechter.

One place where Unruh hasn’t been forgotten is the Cramer Hill neighborhood where he destroyed so many lives. River Road is still working-class, dotted with Mexican shops these days, but the layout is generally the same. The barbershop was torn down, but the buildings that housed the tailor, cobbler, and drugstore are all intact. The block looks the same. There are no plaques, memorials, or markers of any kind. 

In late September, a 76-year-old Vietnam War veteran working as a school crossing guard on River Road, told me that when he moved to East Camden in 1977, many people who lived through that awful day were still around. He said even now, neighbors knows the legend of the “Walk of Death.” He pointed to Unruh’s apartment, which has reportedly remained empty since he was arrested. The outer wall of the apartment building was re-stuccoed and painted gray at some point, but plenty of indentations remain, presumably from the hailstorm of bullets. The crossing guard took me into Unruh’s backyard, the rear entrances boarded shut with cheap padlocks. By all appearances, the residential part of the building was shuttered and abandoned after Unruh killed 13 people in Cramer Hill. The back lot was overgrown with weeds and tall grass, but someone beautified it a bit by planting tomatoes and corn. The ears were growing on the other side of a chain-link fence.

The gate, however, was missing. 

About Patrick Sauer

Originally from Montana, Patrick Sauer is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. His work appears in Vice Sports, Biographile, Smithsonian, and The Classical, among others. He is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the American Presidents and once wrote a one-act play about Zachary Taylor.


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Film as an art form has drawn on several earlier traditions in the fields such as (oral) storytelling, literature, theatre and visual arts. Forms of art and entertainment that had already featured moving and/or projected images include:

    , probably used since prehistoric times , possibly originated around 200 BCE in Central Asia, India, Indonesia or China , a natural phenomenon that has possibly been used as an artistic aid since prehistoric times, and in the early 19th century led to the chemical capture of its images in still photography , developed in the 1650s, preceded by some incidental and/or inferior projectors "persistence of vision" animation devices (phénakisticope since 1832, zoetrope since 1866, flip book since 1868)

Some ancient sightings of gods and spirits may have been conjured up by means of (concave) mirrors, camera obscura or unknown projectors. By the 16th century, necromantic ceremonies and the conjuring of ghostly apparitions by charlatan "magicians" and "witches" seemed commonplace. [1] The very first magic lantern shows seem to have continued this tradition with images of death, monsters and other scary figures. [2] Around 1790, this practice was developed into a type of multi-media ghost show known as phantasmagoria that was much more accessible since it was usually advertised as scientifically produced apparitions to prove that ghosts were not real. These very popular shows could feature mechanical slides, rear projection, mobile projectors, superimposition, dissolves, live actors, smoke (sometimes to project images upon), odors, sounds and even electric shocks. [3] [4] While the first magic lantern images seem to have been intended to scare audiences, soon more subjects appeared and the lantern was used not only for storytelling, but for education as well. [5] In the 19th century, a number of new and popular magic lantern techniques were developed, including dissolving views and several types of mechanical slides that created dazzling abstract effects (chromatrope, etc.) or that showed, for instance, falling snow, or the planets and their moons revolving. [ citation needed ]

Stroboscopic animation displayed short looping motion and was usually intended for entertainment, with surprising and often comical drawings. Occasionally the technique was used for scientific demonstration, for instance by physiologist Jan Purkyně to show the beating of a heart [6] and physicist Johann Heinrich Jakob Müller published a set of 8 discs depicting several wave motions (of sound, air, water, etcetera). [7]

Inventor Joseph Plateau supposed it could be adapted for use in Phantasmagoria [8] and in 1847 Magician Ludwig Döbler used his Phantaskop to project animated acrobats, jugglers and dancers for a segment of his show that toured very successfully through several European cities. [9] [10] [11] [12]

1878–1895 Chronophotography and early animated recordings Edit

Early photographic sequences, known as chronophotography, lacked any serious narrative form. Most of these sequences were not initially intended to be viewed in motion and were instead presented as a serious, even scientific, method of studying movement. The sequences almost exclusively involved humans or animals performing a simple movement in front of the camera. [13] Starting in 1878 with the publication of The Horse in Motion cabinet cards, photographer Eadweard Muybridge began making hundreds of chronophotographic studies of the motion of animals and humans in real-time. He was soon followed by other chronophotographers like Étienne-Jules Marey, Georges Demenÿ and Ottomar Anschütz. In 1879, Muybridge started lecturing on animal locomotion and used his Zoopraxiscope to project animations of the contours of his recordings, traced onto glass discs. Long after the introduction of cinema, Muybridge's recordings would occasionally be animated into very short films with fluent motion (relatively often the footage can be presented as a loop that repeats the motion seamlessly). [14]

In 1887, Ottomar Anschütz started presenting his chronophotographic recordings as animated photography on a small milk-glass screen and later in peep-box automats. For public presentations of the short Electrotachyscope loops, he started recording adding topics that were more amusing than the usual motion studies, such as wrestlers, dancers, acrobats, scenes of everyday life (Two Carpenters Breakfasting, Family Eating from a Single Bowl, Boys Fighting, Card Players, Two Men Taking a Pinch of Snuff, Lathering Up at The Barber's). Some scenes probably depicted staged comical scenes and many may have directly influenced later films by the Edison Company, such as Fred Ott's Sneeze. [15]

In 1893, Edison introduced the long-awaited Kinetoscope, with looped film strips in a peep-box viewer that could last for about half a minute before starting over. Many of these movies showed well-known vaudeville acts performing in Edison's Black Maria studio.

Émile Reynaud exploited his Théâtre Optique ("Optical Theatre", patented in 1888) between 28 October 1892 to March 1900 with over 12,800 shows to a total of over 500,000 visitors at the Musée Grévin in Paris. His Pantomimes Lumineuses were a series of animated stories that included Pauvre Pierrot and Autour d'une cabine. [16] [17]

On 25, 29 and 30 November 1894, Anschütz presented his pictures on a large screen in the darkened Grand Auditorium of a Post Office Building in Berlin. From 22 February to 30 March 1895, a commercial 1,5-hour program of 40 different scenes was screened for audiences of 300 people at the old Reichstag and received circa 4,000 visitors. [18] [19] [10]

The Berlin Wintergarten theater hosted an early movie presentation by the Skladanowsky brothers during the month of November 1895. Their circa 15-minutes picture show was part of an evening program that lasted over three hours, which further included all kinds of variety acts. The Skladanowskys showed eight short films (circa 6 to 11 seconds if played at 16 fps), looped repeatedly, while a specially composed score was played especially loud to drown out the noise of the machinery. The "Apotheose" film showed the brothers entering the frame from opposite sites in front of a white background, bowing towards the camera as if receiving applause and walking out of the frame again. When their show was finished they replicated the action in person in front of the projection screen. The popular venue was filled to capacity with circa 1500 rich patrons for each evening program, but not all of them watched the films. The Bioskop was reportedly well-received with extensive applause and flowers thrown at the screen. However, the Berlin papers were seldom critical about shows due to the revenue of the theatre advertisements they placed. [20]

The Lumière Brothers gave their first commercial screening with the Cinématographe in Paris on 28 December 1895. They favoured actuality films, as truthful documents of the world they lived in, but their show also included the staged comedy L'Arroseur Arrosé. During the next ten years, their company sent cameramen all round the world to shoot films, which were exhibited locally by the cameramen, and then sent back to the company factory in Lyons to make prints for sale to whoever wanted them. There were nearly a thousand of these films made up to 1901, nearly all of them actualities.

The novelty of realistic moving photographs was enough for a motion picture industry to blossom before the end of the century, in countries around the world. "The Cinema" was to offer a relatively cheap and simple way of providing entertainment to the masses. Filmmakers could record performances, which then could be shown to audiences around the world. Travelogues would bring the sights of far-flung places, with movement, directly to spectators' hometowns. Movies would become the most popular visual art form of the late Victorian age. [21] In the years that followed, the art of the motion picture quickly went from a novelty act to an established large-scale entertainment industry. Films evolved from a single shot, completely made by one person, sometimes with a few assistants, towards pictures that were several minutes in length and consisted of several shots and a narrative. [ citation needed ] Films were mostly screened inside temporary storefront spaces, in tents of traveling exhibitors at fairs, or as "dumb" acts in vaudeville programs. [22] During the first years, a film would often be under a minute long and would usually present a single scene, authentic or staged, of everyday life, a public event, a sporting event or a short slapstick gag. There was little to no cinematic technique, the film was usually black and white and it was without sound. [ citation needed ] It became the practice for the producing companies to sell prints outright to the exhibitors, at so much per foot, regardless of the subject. Typical prices initially were 15 cents a foot in the United States, and one shilling a foot in Britain. Hand-coloured films, which were being produced of the most popular subjects before 1900, cost 2 to 3 times as much per foot. Some producers did not sell their films, but exploited them solely with their own exhibition units. To enhance the viewers' experience, silent films were commonly accompanied by live musicians in an orchestra, a theatre organ, and sometimes sound effects and even commentary spoken by the showman or projectionist. [23]

Although projection soon proved to be the more successful format, peep-box movie viewers were not abandoned right away. W.K.L. Dickson left Edison's company in 1895 to exploit his Mutoscope, with much success. His company continued production for the viewers until 1909, but also developed the Biograph projector. In 1896, they started to compete with Edison and the many others who engaged in the new market of film screening, production and distribution. The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company was the most successful motion picture company in the United States for a while, with the largest production until 1900.

Beginning in 1896, magician Georges Méliès, started producing, directing, and distributing an oeuvre that would eventually contain over 500 short films. He realized that film afforded him the ability to "produce visual spectacles not achievable in the theater. [24] He made extensive use of the stop trick and is often regarded as "the godfather of special effects". He built one of the first film studios in May 1897. [25] By 1898 Méliès was the largest producer of fiction films in France and his output consisted mostly of fiction films featuring trick effects, which were very successful in all markets. The special popularity of his longer films, which were several minutes long from 1899 onwards (while most other films were still only a minute long), led other makers to start producing longer films.

J. Stuart Blackton and magician Albert E. Smith started the Vitagraph Company of America in 1897. By 1907, it was one of the most prolific American film production company, producing many famous silent films. [26]

The first rotating camera for taking panning shots was built by British pioneer Robert W. Paul in 1897, on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. He used his camera to shoot the procession in one shot. His device had the camera mounted on a vertical axis that could be rotated by a worm gear driven by turning a crank handle, and Paul put it on general sale the next year. Shots taken using such a "panning" head were also referred to as 'panoramas' in the film catalogues. [27]

In England, pioneers Robert Paul, James Williamson and G.A. Smith and other producers were joined by Cecil Hepworth in 1899, and in a few years he was turning out 100 films a year, with his company becoming the largest on the British scene.

From 1900 Charles Pathé began film production under the Pathé-Frères brand, with Ferdinand Zecca hired to actually make the films. By 1905, Pathé was the largest film company in the world, a position it retained until World War I.

Léon Gaumont began film production in 1900, with his production supervised by Alice Guy.

The first successful permanent theatre showing nothing but films was “The Nickelodeon”, which was opened in Pittsburgh in 1905. By this date there were finally enough films several minutes long available to fill a programme running for at least half an hour, and which could be changed weekly when the local audience became bored with it. Other exhibitors in the United States quickly followed suit, and within a couple of years there were thousands of these nickelodeons in operation. The American situation led to a world-wide boom in the production and exhibition of films from 1906 onwards. Movie theaters became popular entertainment venues and social hubs in the early 20th century, much like cabarets and other theaters. [28]


Until 1927, most motion pictures were produced without sound. This period is commonly referred to as the silent era of film. [29] [30]

In most countries, intertitles came to be used to provide dialogue and narration for the film, thus dispensing with narrators, but in Japanese cinema, human narrators known as benshi remained popular throughout the silent era. [31] The technical problems were resolved by 1923. [ citation needed ]

Illustrated songs were a notable exception to this trend that began in 1894 in vaudeville houses and persisted as late as the late 1930s in film theaters. [32] Live performance or sound recordings were paired with hand-colored glass slides projected through stereopticons and similar devices. In this way, song narrative was illustrated through a series of slides whose changes were simultaneous with the narrative development. The main purpose of illustrated songs was to encourage sheet music sales, and they were highly successful with sales reaching into the millions for a single song. Later, with the birth of film, illustrated songs were used as filler material preceding films and during reel changes. [33]

Advancement of film language Edit

The Execution of Mary Stuart, produced by the Edison Company for viewing with the Kinetoscope, showed Mary Queen of Scots being executed in full view of the camera. The effect was achieved by replacing the actor with a dummy for the final shot. [34] [35] The technique used in the film is seen as one of the earliest known uses of special effects in film. [36] Georges Méliès also utilized this technique in the making of Escamotage d'un dame chez Robert-Houdin (The Vanishing Lady). The woman is seen to vanish through the use of stop motion techniques. [37]

The other basic technique for trick cinematography was the double exposure of the film in the camera. This was pioneered by George Albert Smith in July 1898 in England. The set was draped in black, and after the main shot, the negative was re-exposed to the overlaid scene. His The Corsican Brothers was described in the catalogue of the Warwick Trading Company in 1900: "By extremely careful photography the ghost appears *quite transparent*. After indicating that he has been killed by a sword-thrust, and appealing for vengeance, he disappears. A 'vision' then appears showing the fatal duel in the snow.” [38]

G.A. Smith also initiated the special effects technique of reverse motion. He did this by repeating the action a second time, while filming it with an inverted camera, and then joining the tail of the second negative to that of the first. [39] The first films made using this device were Tipsy, Topsy, Turvy and The Awkward Sign Painter. The earliest surviving example of this technique is Smith's The House That Jack Built, made before September 1900.

Cecil Hepworth took this technique further, by printing the negative of the forwards motion backwards frame by frame, so producing a print in which the original action was exactly reversed. To do this he built a special printer in which the negative running through a projector was projected into the gate of a camera through a special lens giving a same-size image. This arrangement came to be called a "projection printer", and eventually an "optical printer".

The use of different camera speeds also appeared around 1900 in the films of Robert W. Paul and Hepworth. Paul shot scenes from On a Runaway Motor Car through Piccadilly Circus (1899) with the camera turning very slowly. When the film was projected at the usual 16 frames per second, the scenery appeared to be passing at great speed. Hepworth used the opposite effect in The Indian Chief and the Seidlitz Powder (1901). The Chief's movements are sped up by cranking the camera much faster than 16 frames per second. This gives what we would call a "slow motion" effect. [ citation needed ]

Film editing and continuous narrative Edit

The first films to consist of more than one shot appeared toward the end of the 19th century. A notable example was the French film of the life of Jesus Christ, La vie du Christ (The Birth, the Life and the Death of Christ), [40] by Alice Guy. These weren't represented as a continuous film, the separate scenes were interspersed with lantern slides, a lecture, and live choral numbers, to increase the running time of the spectacle to about 90 minutes. Another example of this is the reproductions of scenes from the Greco-Turkish war, made by Georges Méliès in 1897. Although each scene was sold separately, they were shown one after the other by the exhibitors. Even Méliès' Cendrillon (Cinderella) of 1898 contained no action moving from one shot to the next one. To understand what was going on in the film the audience had to know their stories beforehand, or be told them by a presenter.

Real film continuity, involving action moving from one sequence into another, is attributed to British film pioneer Robert W. Paul's Come Along, Do!, made in 1898 and one of the first films to feature more than one shot. [41] In the first shot, an elderly couple is outside an art exhibition having lunch and then follow other people inside through the door. The second shot shows what they do inside. Paul's 'Cinematograph Camera No. 1' of 1895 was the first camera to feature reverse-cranking, which allowed the same film footage to be exposed several times and thereby to create super-positions and multiple exposures. This technique was first used in his 1901 film Scrooge, or, Marley's Ghost. [42]

The further development of action continuity in multi-shot films continued in 1899 at the Brighton School in England. [43] In the latter part of that year, George Albert Smith made The Kiss in the Tunnel. This film started with a shot from a "phantom ride" at the point at which the train goes into a tunnel, and continued with the action on a set representing the interior of a railway carriage, where a man steals a kiss from a woman, and then cuts back to the phantom ride shot when the train comes out of the tunnel. [44] A month later, the Bamforth company in Yorkshire made a restaged version of this film under the same title, and in this case they filmed shots of a train entering and leaving a tunnel from beside the tracks, which they joined before and after their version of the kiss inside the train compartment. [45]

In 1900, continuity of action across successive shots was definitively established by George Albert Smith and James Williamson, who also worked in Brighton. In that year, Smith made As Seen Through a Telescope, in which the main shot shows a street scene with a young man tying the shoelace and then caressing the foot of his girlfriend, while an old man observes this through a telescope. There is then a cut to close shot of the hands on the girl's foot shown inside a black circular mask, and then a cut back to the continuation of the original scene. [46] Even more remarkable is James Williamson's 1900 film, Attack on a China Mission. The film, which film historian John Barnes later described as having "the most fully developed narrative of any film made in England up to that time", opens as the first shot shows Chinese Boxer rebels at the gate it then cuts to the missionary family in the garden, where a fight ensues. The wife signals to British sailors from the balcony, who come and rescue them. [47] The film also used the first "reverse angle" cut in film history. [48]

G.A Smith pioneered the use of the close-up shot in his 1900 films, As Seen Through a Telescope and Grandma's Reading Glass. [46] He further developed the ideas of breaking a scene shot in one place into a series of shots taken from different camera positions over the next couple of years, starting with The Little Doctors of 1901 (the film, now thought lost, was remade as The Sick Kitten in 1903). [49] In a series of films he produced at this time, he also introduced the use of subjective and objective point-of-view shots, the creation of dream-time and the use of reversing. [ citation needed ] He summed up his work in Mary Jane's Mishap of 1903, with repeated cuts to a close shot of a housemaid fooling around. He combined these effects, along with superimpositions, use of wipe transitions to denote a scene change, and other devices, before going on to invent the Kinemacolor system of colour cinematography. [50] [51] His films were the first to establish the basics of coherent narrative and what became known as film language, or "film grammar". [52] [53]

James Williamson pioneered making films that had continuous action from shot to shot such as in his 1901 film Stop Thief!. [54] Films of this genre were later termed "chase films". [55] [56] These were inspired by James Williamson's Stop Thief! of 1901, which showed a tramp stealing a leg of mutton from a butcher's boy in the first shot, then being chased through the second shot by the butcher's boy and assorted dogs, and finally being caught by the dogs in the third shot. [54] Several British films made in the first half of 1903 extended the chase method of film construction. These included An Elopement à la Mode and The Pickpocket: A Chase Through London, made by Alf Collins for the British branch of the French Gaumont company, A Daring Daylight Burglary, made by Frank Mottershaw at the Sheffield Photographic Company, and Desperate Poaching Affray, made by William Haggar. Haggar in particular innovated the first extant panning shots the poachers are chased by gamekeepers and police officers and the camera pans along, creating a sense of urgency and speed. [57] His films were also recognised for their intelligent use of depth of staging and screen edges, while film academic Noël Burch praised Haggar's effective use of off-screen space. [58] He was also one of the first filmmakers to purposefully introduce violence for entertainment in Desperate Poaching Affray, the villains are seen firing guns at their pursuers. [ citation needed ]

Other filmmakers took up all these ideas including the American Edwin S. Porter, who started making films for the Edison Company in 1901. Porter, a projectionist, was hired by Thomas Edison to develop his new projection model known as the Vitascope. When he began making longer films in 1902, he put a dissolve between every shot, just as Georges Méliès was already doing, and he frequently had the same action repeated across the dissolves. His film, The Great Train Robbery (1903), had a running time of twelve minutes, with twenty separate shots and ten different indoor and outdoor locations. He used cross-cutting editing method to show simultaneous action in different places. The time continuity in The Great Train Robbery was actually more confusing than that in the films it was modeled on, but nevertheless it was a greater success than them due to its Wild West violence. The Great Train Robbery served as one of the vehicles that would launch the film medium into mass popularity. [24] [59]

The Pathé company in France also made imitations and variations of Smith and Williamson's films from 1902 onwards using cuts between the shots, which helped to standardize the basics of film construction. The sheer volume of Pathé's production led to their filmmakers giving a further precision and polish to the details of film continuity [ citation needed ] .An influential French film of the period was Méliès's 14-minute-long A Trip to the Moon. [60] It was extremely popular at the time of its release, and is the best-known of the hundreds of films made by Méliès. [61] It was one of the first known science fiction films, and used innovative animation and special effects, including the well-known image of the spaceship landing in the Moon's eye. [62]

Early animation Edit

When cinematography was introduced, animation was familiar from various optical toys (in stroboscopic form), magic lantern shows (in mechanical form) and from Emile Reynaud's Pantomimes Lumineuses. It took over a decade before animation started to play a role in cinemas with stop motion short films like Segundo de Chomón's Le théâtre de Bob (1906) and J. Stuart Blackton's The Haunted Hotel (1907) as well as hand-drawn short animation films like Blackton's 1906 film Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (with some cut-out animation) and Émile Cohl's Fantasmagorie (1908). [ citation needed ]

The world's first animated feature film was El Apóstol (1917), made by Italian-Argentine cartoonist Quirino Cristiani utilizing cutout animation. [64] [65] Cristiani also directed the first animated feature film with sound, Peludópolis, released with a vitaphone sound-on-disc synchronization system soundtrack. Unfortunately, a fire that destroyed producer Federico Valle's film studio incinerated the only known copies of the movies, and they are now considered lost films. [66] [67]

Feature film Edit

Films at the time were no longer than one reel, although some multi-reel films had been made on the life of Christ in the first few years of cinema. The first feature-length multi-reel film in the world was the 1906 Australian production called The Story of the Kelly Gang. [68]

It traced the life of the legendary infamous outlaw and bushranger Ned Kelly (1855–1880) and ran for more than an hour with a reel length of approximately 4,000 feet (1,200 m). [69] It was first shown at the Athenaeum Hall in Collins Street, Melbourne, Australia on 26 December 1906 and in the UK in January 1908. [70] [71]

Maturation and film business Edit

The first successful permanent theatre showing only films was "The Nickelodeon", which was opened in Pittsburgh in 1905. [72] By then, there were enough films several minutes long available to fill a programme running for at least half an hour, and which could be changed weekly when the local audience became bored with it. Other exhibitors in the United States quickly followed suit, and within two years, there were 8,000 of these nickelodeons in operation across the United States. The American experience led to a worldwide boom in the production and exhibition of films from 1906 onwards. By 1907, purpose-built cinemas for motion pictures were being opened across the United States, Britain and France. The films were often shown with the accompaniment of music provided by a pianist, though there could be more musicians. There were also a very few larger cinemas in some of the biggest cities. Initially, the majority of films in the programmes were Pathé films, but this changed fairly quickly as the American companies cranked up production. The programme was made up of just a few films, and the show lasted around 30 minutes. The reel of film, of maximum length 1,000 feet (300 m), which usually contained one individual film, became the standard unit of film production and exhibition in this period. The programme was changed twice or more a week, but went up to five changes of programme a week after a couple of years. In general, cinemas were set up in the established entertainment districts of the cities. In 1907, Pathé began renting their films to cinemas through film exchanges rather than selling the films outright. [73] The litigation over patents between all the major American film-making companies had continued, and at the end of 1908 they decided to pool their patents and form a trust to use them to control the American film business. The companies concerned were Pathé, Edison, Biograph, Vitagraph, Lubin, Selig, Essanay, Kalem, and the Kleine Optical Company, a major importer of European films. The George Eastman company, the only manufacturer of film stock in the United States, was also part of the combine, which was called the Motion Picture Patents Company Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC), and Eastman Kodak agreed to only supply the members with film stock. License fees for distributing and projecting films were extracted from all distributors and exhibitors. The producing companies that were part of the trust were allocated production quotas (two reels, i.e. films, a week for the biggest ones, one reel a week for the smaller), which were supposed to be enough to fill the programmes of the licensed exhibitors. But the market was bigger than that, for although 6,000 exhibitors signed with the MPPC, about 2,000 others did not. A minority of the exchanges (i.e. distributors) stayed outside the MPPC, and in 1909 these independent exchanges immediately began to fund new film producing companies. By 1911 there were enough independent and foreign films available to programme all the shows of the independent exhibitors, and in 1912 the independents had nearly half of the market. The MPPC had effectively been defeated in its plan to control the whole United States market, and the government anti-trust action, which only now started against the MPPC, was not really necessary to defeat it. [74]

In the early 20th century, before Hollywood, the motion picture industry was based in Fort Lee, New Jersey across the Hudson River from New York City. [75] [76] [77] In need of a winter headquarters, moviemakers were attracted to Jacksonville, Florida due to its warm climate, exotic locations, excellent rail access, and cheaper labor, earning the city the title of "The Winter Film Capital of the World." [78] New York-based Kalem Studios was the first to open a permanent studio in Jacksonville in 1908. [79] Over the course of the next decade, more than 30 silent film companies established studios in town, including Metro Pictures (later MGM), Edison Studios, Majestic Films, King-Bee Film Company, Vim Comedy Company, Norman Studios, Gaumont Studios and the Lubin Manufacturing Company. [ citation needed ] The first motion picture made in Technicolor and the first feature-length color movie produced in the United States, The Gulf Between, was also filmed on location in Jacksonville in 1917.

Jacksonville was especially important to the African American film industry. One notable individual in this regard is the European American producer Richard Norman, who created a string of films starring black actors in the vein of Oscar Micheaux and the Lincoln Motion Picture Company. [78] In contrast to the degrading parts offered in certain white films such as The Birth of a Nation, Norman and his contemporaries sought to create positive stories featuring African Americans in what he termed "splendidly assuming different roles." [ citation needed ] [80]

Jacksonville's mostly conservative residents, however, objected to the hallmarks of the early movie industry, such as car chases in the streets, simulated bank robberies and fire alarms in public places, and even the occasional riot. In 1917, conservative Democrat John W. Martin was elected mayor on the platform of taming the city's movie industry. [78] By that time, southern California was emerging as the major movie production center, thanks in large part to the move of film pioneers like William Selig and D.W. Griffith to the area. These factors quickly sealed the demise of Jacksonville as a major film destination. [ citation needed ]

Another factor for the industry's move west was that up until 1913, most American film production was still carried out around New York, but due to the monopoly of Thomas A. Edison, Inc.'s film patents and its litigious attempts to preserve it, many filmmakers moved to Southern California, starting with Selig in 1909. [81] [82] The sunshine and scenery was important for the production of Westerns, which came to form a major American film genre with the first cowboy stars, G.M. Anderson ("Broncho Billy") and Tom Mix. Selig pioneered the use of (fairly) wild animals from a zoo for a series of exotic adventures, with the actors being menaced or saved by the animals. Kalem Company sent film crews to places in America and abroad to film stories in the actual places they were supposed to have happened. [83] Kalem also pioneered the female action heroine from 1912, with Ruth Roland playing starring roles in their Westerns. [84] [ better source needed ]

In France, Pathé retained its dominant position, followed still by Gaumont, and then other new companies that appeared to cater to the film boom. A film company with a different approach was Film d'Art. Film d'Art was set up at the beginning of 1908 to make films of a serious artistic nature. Their declared programme was to make films using only the best dramatists, artists and actors. [85] The first of these was L'Assassinat du Duc de Guise (The Assassination of the Duc de Guise), a historical subject set in the court of Henri III. This film used leading actors from the Comédie-Française, and had a special accompanying score written by Camille Saint-Saëns. The other French majors followed suit, and this wave gave rise to the English-language description of films with artistic pretensions aimed at a sophisticated audience as "art films". By 1910, the French film companies were starting to make films as long as two, or even three reels, though most were still one reel long. This trend was followed in Italy, Denmark, and Sweden. [86]

In Britain, the Cinematograph Act 1909 was the first primary legislation to specifically regulate the film industry. Film exhibitions often took place in temporary venues and the use of highly flammable cellulose nitrate for film, combined with limelight illumination, created a significant fire hazard. The Act specified a strict building code which required, amongst other things, that the projector be enclosed within a fire resisting enclosure. [87]

Regular newsreels were exhibited from 1910 and soon became a popular way for finding out the news – the British Antarctic Expedition to the South Pole was filmed for the newsreels as were the suffragette demonstrations that were happening at the same time. F. Percy Smith was an early nature documentary pioneer working for Charles Urban and he pioneered the use of time lapse and micro cinematography in his 1910 documentary on the growth of flowers. [88] [89]


The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

According to The Conjuring 3 true story, in early July 1980, 11-year-old David Glatzel had been helping his older sister Debbie Glatzel and her boyfriend, Arne Cheyenne Johnson, clean up a Connecticut rental property they were preparing to move into. While at the property, David claimed to have encountered a "burnt and black-looking" old man who pushed him into a waterbed and said he would bring harm to them if they moved into the home. The movie's version of the encounter finds David being grabbed by a hand that bursts through from inside the waterbed, which is a fictionalized version of the actual account.

After returning to his parents' home, David claimed that the old man continued to appear before him and talk to him. He described the man as having a white beard and wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. He said that the man's skin looked charred black as if he had been burned in a fire. David also saw the man in night terrors and had obtained unexplained bruises and scratches on his body. He would wake up screaming and describe the man as having large sunken black eyes and animal-like features, including horns, hoofs, pointy ears, and jagged teeth. Aside from its dark eyes, The Conjuring 3 demon doesn't closely resemble what David described.

When did the true story behind The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It take place?

Were there any other signs of paranormal activity in the Glatzel home?

Yes. The family claimed to hear unexplained noises coming from the attic. Demonologist Ed Warren said that banging and growling sounds were heard coming from the basement and he saw a rocking chair move on its own. During an interview with paranormal researcher Tony Spera, Ed also claimed that David's plastic toy dinosaur started to walk on its own toward the family. A deep voice could then be heard emanating from it, telling them, "Beware, you're all going to die."

Did a priest come and bless the house?

In the movie, Father Gordon (Steve Coulter) arrives to bless the home. Despite his name being changed for the film, according to the family, they did bring in a Roman Catholic priest to bless the house. Several priests were involved in the exorcism of the boy, David Glatzel, with the most prominent being Reverend Francis E. Virgulak.

Did the Glatzel family really contact demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren?

Yes. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It true story reveals that the family did indeed contact husband and wife paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. Ed was a demonologist and Lorraine claimed to be a clairvoyant. Like most of the previous movies in The Conjuring series, including The Enfield Poltergeist and Annabelle, the story was inspired by the Warren's case files. Both Ed and Lorraine are no longer living.

Did Lorraine Warren observe the demon?

This is what Lorraine Warren claimed, and it was the Warrens who introduced the theory of demonic possession (Newsweek). Lorraine said that while her husband Ed was interviewing the possessed boy, David Glatzel, she saw a black mist materialize next to him, indicating that the demon was present. David's mother, Judy, had previously wondered if a ghost, not a demon, was the culprit, but the Warrens rejected the idea.

Lorraine also claimed that she saw David being choked by invisible hands, and he remarked that "he had the feeling he was being hit." She said that red marks could be seen on his neck afterward (People). Lorraine said that she witnessed David growl and hiss. She heard him speak in unrecognizable voices and said that he would recite passages from the Bible and John Milton's Paradise Lost. David's sister, Debbie Glatzel, said that he would also spit, bite, kick, and swear "terrible words." She described powerful forces flopping him "head-to-toe like a ragdoll." -Daily Mirror

Debbie said that she saw the demon once during one of her brother David's nighttime episodes. "He manifested. Just a face on the wall. High cheekbones. A narrow chin. A thin nose. Big black eyes hidden in dark holes. He showed his teeth." She said it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. Her description differs somewhat from The Conjuring 3 demon depicted in The Devil Made Me Do It movie. -Chippewa Herald-Telegram

Did Debbie Glatzel and Arne Johnson decide against renting the home?

Were exorcisms performed on David Glatzel?

Yes. According to the Warrens, they oversaw three "lesser exorcisms" that David was subjected to. Lorraine Warren claimed that David levitated, ceased breathing, and even foreshadowed the murder that was going to happen. The local diocese said that the Catholic Church never sanctioned a formal exorcism, stating that the Glatzel family had not taken part in the psychological tests that the church required. David Glatzel's mom, Judy Glatzel, responded by telling The Washington Post that she paid $75 an hour for a session with a local psychiatrist, but it was up to church officials to set up and pay for further psychological testing. -Newsweek

Did Arne Cheyenne Johnson challenge the demon to possess him instead of the boy, David Glatzel?

According to The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It true story, this is allegedly correct. One of the demons supposedly went from the body of the boy, David Glatzel, into the body of his older sister's boyfriend, Arne Cheyenne Johnson, after Arne egged on the demon to leave David's body and possess him instead. According to demonologist Ed Warren, Arne yelled, "Take me on, leave my little buddy alone!"

After a few days, David's condition improved but Arne began to show signs that the demon had taken hold of him. The Haunting TV series episode "Where Demons Dwell" states that the demon took control of his car and forced it into a tree, leaving him startled but uninjured. The demon was also blamed for Arne's fall from a tree while working as a tree trimmer. Debbie claimed that he would hallucinate and growl. Arne said that his final lucid encounter with the demon was at the rental home when he was examining an old well, which supposedly housed the demon. According to Arne, he truly had become possessed when he made eye contact with the demon at the well.

What were the circumstances surrounding Arne Johnson's murder of his landlord, Alan Bono?

On February 16, 1981, 19-year-old Arne Cheyenne Johnson called in sick to the Wright Tree Service where he was employed. He met his girlfriend Debbie, 26, at the Brookfield Boarding Kennels where she worked as a dog groomer. They were joined by Debbie's 9-year-old cousin Mary, 9, and Arne's sisters, Wanda, 15, and Janice, 13. The three girls had come to visit Debbie at work and see the dogs. Debbie's boss, Alan Bono, 40, who was also Debbie and Arne's landlord, invited them out to lunch at a local pizza parlor. By this point, Arne had supposedly been exhibiting strange behavior that was similar to what Debbie's younger brother David had experienced when he was allegedly possessed. At least, that's what Arne's attorney tried to argue at his murder trial.

While they were at the restaurant for lunch, Arne Cheyenne Johnson and Alan Bono began to drink heavily. By the time they returned to the kennel, Alan was intoxicated. He grabbed hold of Debbie's 9-year-old cousin Mary and refused to let go. Arne ordered Alan to release Mary. When he finally did, the two men continued to argue in the driveway of the kennel. Debbie attempted to stand between them and Arne's sister Wanda tried to pull her brother away. According to what was stated at the trial, Arne then began to growl like an animal and pull out a 5-inch pocket knife (tree surgeon's knife), stabbing Alan Bono repeatedly. Alan suffered "four or five tremendous wounds," mainly to his chest. He died at the hospital several hours later. Arne was taken into custody two miles from the scene by police. He claimed that he couldn't remember anything that had happened. The stabbing is believed to be the first murder in Brookfield, Connecticut's 193-year history, and certainly the first in the 30 years since the town had police records.

The following day paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren told the police that it was her belief that Arne Cheyenne Johnson was possessed when he killed Alan Bono.

Did Arne Johnson stab Alan Bono because Arne was a jealous lover?

Debbie Glatzel claimed that her boyfriend, Arne Johnson, had come to Alan Bono's residence to repair a stereo for him. She said that Alan had been drinking red wine heavily and the two men got into an argument about payment for the stereo repair. She said that Arne appeared to be in some kind of trance when he stabbed Alan.

However, according to reports, during the three months that Debbie Glatzel and Arne Johnson lived next to the kennel that Alan Bono lived above, the three became very friendly. Debbie's mother, Judy, once said of the short and stocky Alan, "There should be more men like him." The Brookfield police believed that Debbie and Alan's relationship may have been more than just employer-employee, but Debbie said that Alan was an alcoholic and that "he could make friends with anybody." She denied there was anything between them. The police said that Arne and Alan were arguing over Debbie, not a stereo repair. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It leaves out the idea of Alan (renamed Bruno Saul in the movie) being a jealous lover but does show him grabbing Debbie. The notion of the jealous lover was depicted in the 1983 TV movie The Demon Murder Case starring Kevin Bacon. -Pensacola News Journal

Did Arne Johnson's trial mark the first time that demonic possession had been used as a defense in U.S. courts?

Yes. Eight months after the homicide, Arne Johnson's lawyer, Martin Minnella, attempted to enter a plea of "not guilty" due to demonic possession. Minnella argued that Arne Johnson killed Alan Bono while under the Devil's spell, stating that his client "was possessed by a demon, and it was a demon who actually manipulated his body." It was the first known court case in United States history where the defense had sought to prove innocence based on a claim of demonic possession. As word of the unusual defense spread to the media, the trial became known as the Devil Made Me Do It case. It made headlines around the world and paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were famous for their involvement in the Amityville Horror case, were thrust back into the spotlight. Minnella told the New York Times, "The courts have dealt with the existence of God. Now they're going to have to deal with the existence of the Devil." The lawyer, Martin Minnella, is depicted as a female in the movie and renamed Meryl.

Did the judge in Arne Cheyenne Johnson's murder trial forbid the "demon defense"?

Yes. Judge Robert J. Callahan promptly rejected the idea of a defense based on demonic possession. Callahan stated that no such defense could ever exist in a court of law due to a lack of evidence. He stated that it would be irrelative and unscientific to allow testimony related to such a defense. Arne Cheyenne Johnson's lawyer, Martin Minnella, had to give up the argument of demonic possession and instead decided to argue that Johnson acted in self-defense.

Did the jury find Arne Cheyenne Johnson guilty?

Yes. In researching The Conjuring 3 true story, we learned that the jury deliberated for 15 hours over the course of three days. On November 24, 1981, Arne Cheyenne Johnson was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison.

Did Debbie Glatzel and Arne Cheyenne Johnson marry while he was in prison?

Yes. Debbie Glatzel and Arne Johnson married while he was in prison. He also received his high school diploma and took several college courses while behind bars. He was a model prisoner and was released on good behavior after serving less than five years. The couple had two children.

Have any other movies been made about the Devil Made Me Do It case?

Yes. A 1983 television movie titled The Demon Murder Case was made about the David Glatzel possession and the Arne Johnson trial. It starred Kevin Bacon, Andy Griffith, and Cloris Leachman. In that film, the character who represents Arne Johnson is portrayed by Kevin Bacon and renamed Kenny Miller. David Glatzel, the 11-year-old boy, is renamed Brian Frazier and portrayed by Charles Fields. Ed and Lorraine Warren are renamed Guy and Charlotte Harris and played by Andy Griffith and Beverlee McKinsey. Like The Conjuring 3 demon, the movie implies that it took control of Arne Johnson when he killed Alan Bono. However, The Demon Murder Case certainly doesn't hold back in its depiction of Arne as a jealous lover.

Is it possible that the Devil Made Me Do It case was a hoax?

David's brother, Carl Glatzel, spoke out against Gerald Brittle's book that Lorraine Warren was involved in, The Devil in Connecticut, when it was republished in 2006. Carl called the book "a complete lie," saying that "the Warrens concocted a phony story about demons in an attempt to get rich and famous at our expense." According to Carl, the Warrens told the family that the demonic possession story would turn them into millionaires. In reality, the Glatzel family was paid just $2,000. Carl said that his younger brother David had been suffering from a mental illness at the time, from which he has since recovered. He said that the entire family was manipulated and exploited by Ed and Lorraine Warren. In 2007, David and Carl went as far as to file a lawsuit against Gerald Brittle and the Warrens for unspecified financial damages.

Author Gerald Brittle claimed that his book was based entirely on fact and that he spent more than 100 hours interviewing the Glatzel family, which he has on video. Lorraine Warren said that the six priests who participated in the lesser exorcisms all agreed that David Glatzel was possessed. Both Brittle and Lorraine Warren criticized the lawsuit and questioned Carl Glatzel's motive, with Brittle implying it was for financial gain. Of course, the same could be said for the Warrens and Brittle.

Debbie Glatzel and Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who married while Arne was in prison, appear to be the only two members of the Glatzel family who support the Warren's account of possession. In addition to his brother Carl, David Glatzel's father also denied that his son was ever possessed (Daily Mirror). At the time, however, David's mother mostly backed up the Warren's story (Newsweek). With the release of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, perhaps David Glatzel will speak out about the true story and the Warrens' involvement.

Watch the History vs. Hollywood episode in which we explore the events that inspired the horror movie, which was based on the Warrens' case files. Also, uncover more details about The Conjuring 3 true story by watching an interview with Ed and Lorraine Warren in which they discuss the Devil Made Me Do It case.


15 'Trials of the Century' and the Media Frenzies That Accompanied Them

"Trial of the century" is a term that's applied to a lot of court cases, even though the grammatical restrictions of the phrase should disallow it. Any time a case is the subject of relentless media attention, someone will undoubtedly dub it the "trial of the century." This only increases the sensational coverage and public interest, which in turn inflates the proceedings even more. It's a self-fueling machine that's nearly as old as the idea of national daily newspapers.

Whatever you consider to be the "trial of the century," chances are it wasn't the first, and it certainly won't be the last. Here are 15 from the 20th century—a period of time that happened to be remarkably "trial of the century"-heavy.

1. MURDER TRIAL OF HARRY K. THAW

On June 25, 1906, railroad heir Harry Kendall Thaw murdered famed architect Stanford White on the rooftop restaurant and theater of Madison Square Garden. White, a Beaux-Arts pioneer who had designed that iteration of Madison Square Garden (torn down in 1926), had a reputation as a ladies man and bon vivant. Years earlier, the married White had seduced the woman who would become Thaw’s wife, Evelyn Nesbit, who was just 16 at the time. Plagued by unhinged jealousy and mental illness, Thaw shot White three times during the finale of Mam'zelle Champagne, the show being performed at the rooftop theater. According to witnesses, Thaw screamed, “He ruined my wife!”

The ensuing trial electrified the East Coast press, which was, by 1906, a certified mass media machine. Pittsburgh and New York papers ran wall-to-wall coverage, featuring stories that were often colored by bias bought and paid for by the involved parties. Thomas Edison even produced a nickelodeon film about the murder just one week after it occurred.

Because of the surrounding front-page frenzy, Thaw's trial is often cited as the first “trial of the century” by legal scholars and media historians (though the term wasn’t used until much later to describe the events in retrospect). The Library of Congress’s Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room dubs it “the first trial of the century” in their Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers collection.

Both the District Attorney and Thaw’s first lawyer wanted an insanity plea, but Thaw’s family refused to sully their name in such a manner. Besides paying for sympathetic press coverage, the Thaws threw their money at a parade of doctors to diagnose Harry as a victim of a very specific type of temporary insanity: "dementia Americana.” This was defined as insanity caused by a violation of "the sanctity of his home or the purity of his wife."

A deadlocked jury meant that the trial would be repeated, and the breathless press attention would continue. Thaw was found not guilty by reason of insanity after the second trial and was sentenced to life at a facility for the criminally insane. He later would escape by simply walking out the front door and into a waiting car headed for Quebec. After his eventual extradition from Canada, Thaw underwent a third trial, where he was found both sane and not guilty.

Thaw and Nesbit divorced, and just two years later, Thaw was arrested again for whipping a 19-year-old boy. He was again sent to an insane asylum, and was freed in 1924. Harry K. Thaw died a free man in Miami in 1947.

2. THE ASSASSINATION TRIAL OF "BIG BILL" HAYWOOD

The media sunk their teeth into the trials of Harry K. Thaw, and a formula was born: Sensational court cases featuring lurid details and a compelling cast of characters sold newspapers. When American union pioneer “Big Bill” Haywood was tried in 1907 for the assassination of Frank Steuneberg, a former governor of Idaho, newspapers around the country knew they didn’t have to wait long to find a case that could match the drama of Thaw’s.

Haywood’s defense team featured famed Chicago lawyer Clarence Darrow, and the trial marked the legendary litigator’s introduction to the national stage. As Harry L. Crane wrote in the Statesman, “The eyes of the civilized world [are on] these great proceedings.” Reporters from across the country relayed Darrow's impressive tactics to their readers. It was “one of the great court cases in the annals of the American judiciary,” John W. Carberry wrote in the Boston Globe. Socialist newspaper the Daily People dubbed it “the greatest trial of modern times.”

Darrow’s skilled defense and his team’s comprehensive cross-examination of the government’s only witness resulted in the jury issuing a verdict of “not guilty.”

3. SACCO AND VANZETTI MURDER TRIAL

In 1920, Italian immigrants Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco were arrested for killing two people during a robbery of a shoe factory in South Braintree, Massachusetts. The case looked to be open-and-shut—police found a firearm and ammunition on Sacco that matched the casings found at the scene of the crime—and the two were convicted in 1921. Circumstances surrounding the men, including well-funded support during their appeals, meant that their saga, widely covered by the press, would continue for another six years.

Sacco and Vanzetti were anarchists, and their conviction sparked retaliation in the form of bombings in the U.S. and at American Embassies abroad. The increased attention the case received wound up shedding light on the shakiness of the trial and the prosecution's reliance on testimonies from untrustworthy witnesses. Sympathetic parties—both radical anarchists and left-leaning moderates—raised money for a defense fund. This sparked multiple appeal efforts that lasted until 1927. Throughout this period, as intriguing new evidence came to the fold, both the national and international press closely followed the developments.

As Felix Frankfurter wrote in The Atlantic in 1927, "The fact is that a long succession of disclosures has aroused interest far beyond the boundaries of Massachusetts and even of the United States, until the case has become one of those rare causes célèbres which are of international concern."

The appeals were unsuccessful, and the two men were executed in 1927.

4. LEOPOLD AND LOEB ON TRIAL FOR THEIR 'PERFECT CRIME'

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were two well-to-do students at the University of Chicago. Obsessed with the idea of committing a “perfect crime,” the two abducted Bobby Franks, a 14-year-old boy living in the Chicago suburbs, on May 21, 1924. They then murdered Franks in a car rented with a fake name and dumped his mutilated body near the Indiana border.

While the two had concocted what they thought to be a meticulous plan, it was undone when Leopold’s eyeglasses were found near Franks’ body. That specific type and design of eyeglass frame had been sold to only three people in all of Chicago, and Leopold was one of them. The two were brought in for questioning, and Loeb confessed to the murders.

The trial became a magnet for media frenzy, not least because Loeb’s family hired none other than Clarence Darrow to lead the defense. Knowing that the jury pool had been tainted by relentless newspaper coverage, Darrow managed to avoid a jury trial (and likely death penalty conviction) by having his clients plead guilty, which would leave the sentencing up to the judge. Darrow used the case to highlight and question aspects of American culture and its justice system as they pertained to punishment and the supposed worth of human life. This came in the form of a 12-hour-long closing argument, one that touched on everything from morality and nature to the works of Friedrich Nietzsche. The marathon speech is still revered by legal scholars because it helped Darrow do the impossible: spare the lives of two killers who were guilty as sin. Loeb and Leopold were both sentenced to life imprisonment. Loeb was later murdered by another inmate Leopold was paroled 34 years later and lived out his life in Puerto Rico.

5. THE SCOPES 'MONKEY TRIAL'

The trial of John Thomas Scopes briefly turned the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee into the epicenter of a heated cultural battle. In 1925, Scopes, a substitute teacher, turned himself in for violating the Butler Act, which was a Tennessee law that banned the teaching of evolution in schools. Scopes was well aware that the case would be used as a proxy suit conducted by various interest groups to garner attention, and publicity for the trial soon followed in a big way.

The small Tennessee county would host the two biggest lawyers in the country: Clarence Darrow (again), who was on the team that represented Scopes, and William Jennings Bryan, a former presidential candidate, who was part of the prosecution.

The proceedings were covered by the dozens of gathered reporters representing papers from around the country. Famous journalist H.L. Mencken provided colorful correspondences from Tennessee for the Baltimore Sun, and the Scopes “Monkey Trial,” as Mencken called it, was the first trial in America to be broadcast on national radio. (Mencken also gave another lasting contribution to the language at around the same time: “Bible Belt.”)

The proceedings were packed with dramatic moments, including Darrow calling Bryan to the stand to question him on the veracity of the Bible. The result, according to The New York Times, was “the most amazing courtroom scene in Anglo-American history.”

The jury found Scopes guilty, though the attention brought on by the trial increased scrutiny on the Butler Act and laws like it. The publishers of The Baltimore Sun, for their part, paid Scopes’ $100 fine.

6. THE HALL-MILLS DOUBLE MURDER

In 1922, the corpses of Eleanor Mills and Edward Hall were found in a field in New Jersey, their bodies positioned intimately next to each other with ripped-up love letters sprinkled between them. Hall's widow and her two brothers were charged with the murders, and the tawdry case became a magnet for the press (Hall was a minister Mills sang in the church choir).

In 1999, The Washington Post’s Peter Carlson pointed to the trial following the murders as an example of a “trial of the century” that was soon forgotten. At the time, however, it was the biggest news story in the entire country. The proceedings were dubbed “the trial of the century” by legendary newsman Damon Runyon, and the small town’s courthouse attracted “300 reporters, requiring the phone company to bring in a special switchboard and 28 extra operators.”

“The key witness,” Carlson wrote, “was an eccentric, mule-riding female hog farmer, known to tabloid readers as 'the Pig Woman.’…Ah, the Pig Woman! Who could ever forget the Pig Woman?” The witness, who was hospitalized at the time, was wheeled into the courtroom in her bed and testified from there.

All three suspects were acquitted.

7. BRUNO RICHARD HAUPTMANN'S TRIAL FOR THE MURDER OF THE LINDBERGH BABY

On March 1, 1932, the infant son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh went missing from the family's home in New Jersey. Two months later, the baby’s remains were discovered, and the kidnapping case became a two-year murder investigation, eventually leading to a suspect: German-born Bruno Richard Hauptmann.

At the time, the kidnapping was covered in the press as the “crime of the century,” and Hauptmann’s ensuing murder trial was dubbed the “trial of the century.” A media circus the likes of which had never been seen besieged the Hunterdon Country Courthouse in New Jersey. Adding to the hoopla were sound cameras, used for the first time by the press in the coverage of a criminal trial. H.L. Mencken, again on the scene, called it “the biggest story since the Resurrection.”

The press coverage went so overboard and interfered with the proceedings to such a great affect that the American Bar Association issued a report begging for legislation to curb the media. “Newspaper interference with criminal justice always appears most flagrantly in celebrated criminal cases,” the report read. Citing the Hauptmann case, it complained that the press “hippodromed” and “panicked” the proceedings.

Hauptmann was found guilty and sentenced to death. According to the New York Times, he based his appeal “on the grounds that [he was] actually tried and condemned by the press.”

8. GLORIA VANDERBILT CUSTODY TRIAL

Daughter of famous railroad heir Reginald Vanderbilt and his much younger socialite wife Gloria Mercedes Morgan, Gloria Vanderbilt achieved celebrity status just by being born. Her father died after a life of heavy drinking when Gloria was 18 months old, and both she and her immense trust fund went to her hard-partying mother. In 1934, Gloria’s aunt Gertrude Whitney—Reginald’s sister, who was considered the richest woman in America at the time—kidnapped her niece because she viewed the mother as being unfit, sparking a scandalous trial tailor-made for New York’s front pages.

Gertrude’s legal team hammered home the lurid details of Gloria Morgan’s so-called “debauched” lifestyle in front of the more than one hundred reporters present in the courtroom throughout the trial. Papers were unrelenting, eager to relay specifics about the young mother’s “alleged erotic interest in women.”

After almost two months of mud-slinging, the court awarded Gertrude Whitney custody of her niece. Gloria Vanderbilt’s mother was allowed visitation on the weekends. The New York Journal American, one of the newspapers that had devoted non-stop coverage to the trial, summed up the verdict with parody song lyrics, highlighting the kind of devastating, compassion-free coverage readers had come to expect:

“Rockabye baby, up on a writ,
Monday to Friday Mother’s unfit.
As the week ends she rises in virtue
Saturdays, Sundays,
Mother won’t hurt you.”

9. NUREMBERG TRIALS

The military tribunals of 22 Nazi leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity were held between November 20, 1945 and October 1, 1946, and they proved to be greater in consequence and profundity than perhaps any other trial in history. While the purpose of the trials was to bring high-ranking Nazi officials to justice, they also presented a chance to fully impart to the world the breadth and grim severity of Nazi Germany’s actions leading up to and during World War II.

Considering many Nazi leaders (including Hitler) had committed suicide at the war’s end, those present at the tribunals represented the highest-ranking officials who could answer on behalf of their government.

Unlike previous “trials of the century,” there was little room (or need) for sensationalism in the coverage of the Nuremberg tribunals. On February 21, 1946, The New York Times touched on this in a short editorial, printed on page 20: “When a running story in a newspaper begins to be more of the same and doesn’t surprise people any more,” the piece reads, “it is taken off the front page and put inside somewhere. This practice follows a sort of natural law of journalism. Just now it gives the Nuremberg trials a back seat. We learned a while back that the defendants were believed to be responsible for at least 6 million murders. What we have been getting in the past few days are details about some of these murders … [t]hey are not new, because the evidence had already run through every conceivable bestiality. But it would be well if we paid attention to them.”

10. ROSENBERGS ESPIONAGE TRIAL

In 1951, two years after the Soviet Union detonated their first atomic bomb test, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were tried, convicted, and executed for conspiracy to commit espionage by selling nuclear secrets to the USSR. David Greenglass (Ethel’s brother), a machinist who worked at Los Alamos, testified that he gave Julius Rosenberg documents relating to the U.S.’s work on the atomic bomb. Ethel and Julius both denied any involvement, but their month-long trial concluded with a guilty verdict and the death penalty. The Rosenbergs were the only American citizens executed for espionage during the Cold War they were killed by the electric chair on June 19, 1953.

Upon sentencing the Rosenbergs to death, Judge Irving Kaufman told the couple, “I consider your crime worse than murder. Plain deliberate contemplated murder is dwarfed in magnitude by comparison with the crime you have committed. In committing the act of murder, the criminal kills only his victim … Indeed, by your betrayal you undoubtedly have altered the course of history to the disadvantage of our country. No one can say that we do not live in a constant state of tension.”

Naturally, the trial helped accelerate Cold War paranoia in America. Julius Rosenberg’s former membership in the American Communist Party was used by anti-communist politicians as proof of left-wing subversion within U.S. borders. Supporters of the Rosenbergs—or people who had merely objected to the trial’s haste or the harshness of the sentencing—were painted in the press as part of a growing communist movement.

According to the Federal Judicial Center, “The Chicago Daily News was the only major mainstream American newspaper to advocate clemency for the Rosenbergs,” and that, throughout the trial, “[n]ewspaper stories often relied on Department of Justice or FBI press releases for the bulk of their source material, and sensational headlines…helped to foster a public perception that they were dangerous traitors bent on helping a bitter enemy to destroy the United States.”

11. MURDER TRIAL OF SAM SHEPPARD

On July 3, 1954, osteopath Sam Sheppard fell asleep while watching TV with his pregnant wife in their home in the Cleveland suburbs. Awoken by his wife’s screams, Sheppard says he went upstairs to investigate and was knocked unconscious by a mysterious intruder. When he came to, his wife was dead, and he would soon be charged with her murder.

Local and national media went wild with the case—to the point of tampering with it. The Cleveland Press pushed and pushed for the state to take action against the doctor. “WHY NO INQUEST? DO IT NOW, GERBER,” read one headline aimed at county coroner Sam Gerber. As if at the paper’s command, the coroner then performed a public inquest with Sheppard in a crowded high school gym. When that wasn’t enough, the Press ran a front-page editorial demanding that police arrest Sheppard. “QUIT STALLING—BRING HIM IN,” screamed the headline. Sheppard was arrested that night.

Sheppard was convicted for the murder of his wife in 1954. He successfully appealed the ruling in 1964 and, in 1966, the United State Supreme Court reversed the murder charge. Their decision placed the blame, in part, on the media. The ruling states that “[t]he massive, pervasive and prejudicial publicity attending petitioner’s prosecution prevented him from receiving a fair trial.”

In 1998, 28 years after Sheppard died a free man, new DNA evidence was released that implicated the Sheppards’ window washer for the murder.

12. ADOLF EICHMANN'S CAPTURE AND TRIAL

Like the Nuremberg tribunals, the trial of Adolf Eichmann captured the world’s attention due to the unthinkable severity of the crimes committed. Eichmann was a high-ranking Nazi SS Lieutenant Colonel whose decisions helped shape the Holocaust. After World War II he managed to escape to Buenos Aires, where he lived comfortably for almost a decade until his capture in 1960 by a team of Israeli security and intelligence agents.

After being brought to Israel, Eichmann stood trial for a number of crimes, including crimes against humanity. The 1961 proceedings were videotaped and broadcast by press outlets around the world, making it one of the first truly international media events. This was intentional the trial served as a reminder of the suffering endured by victims of the Holocaust, given that, at the time of the trial, the events of World War II had concluded a full 16 years prior.

Notably, the trial was heavily broadcast in Germany and covered by hundreds of German journalists in Israel. “There was a lot of watching, and it changed the discussion about the Holocaust,” philosopher Bettina Stangneth told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

At the end of the four-month trial, Eichmann was found guilty of multiple charges and was sentenced to death.

13. MANSON FAMILY MURDERS

Lifelong criminal and aspiring musician Charles Manson led a group of cultishly devoted followers—known as the Manson Family—in California, and inspired them to commit eight murders over the summer of 1969 in the hopes of starting an apocalyptic race war. The violent nature of the killings combined with the group's twisted counterculture leanings and "hippie" looks made for a trial that would puncture a hole into the zeitgeist.

According to Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi in his and Curt Gentry’s book Helter Skelter, “The bizarre nature of the crime, the number of victims, and their prominence—a beautiful movie star, the heiress to a coffee fortune, her jet-set playboy paramour, an internationally known hair stylist—would combine to make this probably the most publicized murder case in history, excepting only the assassination of President John F. Kennedy."

While Manson himself was not present at any of the murders, he had ordered his followers to perpetrate them and was charged accordingly. Their trial became nothing short of a circus. When Manson displayed all sorts of odd behavior during the proceedings, his disciples—both fellow defendants and uncharged Manson family members hanging outside and around the courthouse—followed, be it by shaving their heads or carving Xs into their foreheads.

American media dedicated their coverage to Manson’s bizarre antics, and he reveled in the attention, using violent outbursts in court to distract from the evidence brought against him. This is described, in detail, in Helter Skelter:

With a pencil clutched in his right hand, Manson suddenly leaped over the counsel table in the direction of Judge Older. He landed just a few feet from the bench, falling on one knee. As he was struggling to his feet, bailiff Bill Murray leaped too, landing on Manson’s back. Two other deputies quickly joined in and, after a brief struggle, Manson’s arms were pinned. As he was being propelled to the lockup, Manson screamed at Older: ‘In the name of Christian justice, someone should cut your head off!’

All five defendants were sentenced to death in 1971, though that was reduced to life in prison after California banned the death penalty.

14. MURDER TRIAL OF O.J. SIMPSON

By the time O.J. Simpson was put on trial for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman—January 24, 1995—cable news was coming into its own. (CNN had been around for 15 years and Court TV had debuted just a few years prior. Fox News and MSNBC, meanwhile, wouldn't be launched for another year.) The 24-hour networks made a spectacle of the trial, broadcasting every detail for an obsessed country that couldn't get enough. Very real specifics of the case were treated like plot points from a shared text—the white Bronco, Bruno Magli shoes, the leather glove, Kato Kaelin, and DNA evidence, to name just a small few.

While the double murder had the makings of early "trials of the century" (celebrity suspect, shocking violence), cable news (as well as traditional press outlets) catapulted the case to unparalleled levels of nationwide attention. As Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of media studies at NYU, told the Washington Post, the Simpson trial served as a “harbinger of an entirely different media landscape — an event that preoccupies everyone full-time for months on end." From the white Bronco chase to Simpson's shocking acquittal on October 3, 1995, the country was watching the future of media play out before our eyes.

The trial is still so fresh in the public's mind that, today, over 20 years after the fact, people still freely refer to it as the "trial of the century."

15. BILL CLINTON IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS

On December 19, 1998, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Bill Clinton on the counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, charges that came about during the investigation and aftermath of his sex scandal involving White House intern Monica Lewinsky .

As the Washington Post’s Peter Carlson wrote in 1999, the impeachment proceedings of Bill Clinton would be, to plenty of folks, the “trial of the century”:

“It will truly be the trial of the century," Alan Dershowitz wrote in 'USA Today.'

"It will be the real trial of the century," Tom Brokaw said on NBC News.

"Without doubt, the trial of the century," Cynthia McFadden said on ABC News.

“Trial of the Century," reads the huge headline on the cover of the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine. The 'Independent,' a liberal London newspaper, agrees. So does Agence France-Presse. And the 'New York Post,' the 'New York Daily News,' the 'Detroit News,' and the 'Rock Hill (S.C.) News', all of which termed the upcoming impeachment battle "the trial of the century.”

Clinton was acquitted by the Senate on February 12, 1999, just in time for the century to be over.


Contents

Hernández was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico to a Puerto Rican father and a Brazilian mother. With no formal education, he worked as a sailor and settled in Rio de Janeiro. [3] He was hired by a circus and became an entertainer, making his first appearance as an acrobat in Rio de Janeiro in 1922. He later lived in the Caribbean and made his living as a professional boxer, fighting under the name Kid Curley. [4] [5]

In New York City, he worked in vaudeville and minstrel shows, sang in a church choir and was a radio script writer. [4] During his spare time he perfected his diction by studying Shakespeare, thus enabling himself to work in radio. He co-starred in radio's first all-black soap opera We Love and Learn. He also participated in the following radio shows: Mandrake the Magician (opposite Raymond Edward Johnson and Jessica Tandy), The Shadow, Tennessee Jed, and Against the Storm. He became a household name after his participation in The Cavalcade of America, a series which promoted American history and inventiveness. He appeared in the Broadway shows Strange Fruit and Set My People Free. [4] His Broadway debut was in the chorus of the 1927 musical production Show Boat. [5]

Hernández appeared in 26 films throughout his career. He portrayed a revolutionary soldier in the silent film The Life of General Villa, and his first "talkie" films were small roles in films produced by Oscar Micheaux, who made race films for black audiences. His talking film debut was Micheaux's The Girl from Chicago (1932), in which he was cast as a Cuban racketeer. He also has a speaking part, although uncredited, as a police officer in the 1932 crime drama and musical Harlem Is Heaven, which stars Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.

In 1949, he acted in his first mainstream film, based on William Faulkner's novel, Intruder in the Dust, in which he played the role of Lucas Beauchamp, a poor Mississippi farmer unjustly accused of the murder of a white man. The film earned him a Golden Globe nomination for "New Star of the Year". [6] The film was listed as one of the ten best of the year by the New York Times. Faulkner said of the film: "I'm not much of a moviegoer, but I did see that one. I thought it was a fine job. That Juano Hernández is a fine actor--and man, too." [7]

In the 1950 western Stars In My Crown, directed by Jacques Tourneur, starring Joel McCrea, Hernández plays a freed slave who refuses to sell his land and faces an angry lynch mob. [8]

He was singled out for praise for his performance in the 1950 film The Breaking Point with John Garfield. The New York Times called his performance "quietly magnificent." [9]

He also received favorable notices for his performances in Trial (1955), about a politically charged court case, in which he played the judge, and Sidney Lumet's The Pawnbroker (1965).

More than 50 years after its initial release, in 2001, film historian Donald Bogle wrote that Intruder in the Dust broke new ground in the cinematic portrayal of blacks, and Hernández's "performance and extraordinary presence still rank above that of almost any other black actor to appear in an American movie." [10]

Over the years, Hernández made guest appearances on a dozen U.S. network television programs, appearing three times in 1960 and 1961 on the ABC series, Adventures in Paradise, starring Gardner McKay. In 1959, he starred in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents production of the Ambrose Bierce short story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.

Other television shows in which Hernandez appeared were Naked City, The Defenders, The Dick Powell Show and Studio One.

Hernández returned to Puerto Rico late in his life. Together with Julio Torregrosa he wrote a script for a movie about the life of Puerto Rico's first boxing champion, Sixto Escobar. He was unable to get funding in Puerto Rico and therefore he translated the script into English. He sent it to several companies in Hollywood and had it almost sold at the time of his death. [3] In the last two years of his life he appeared in three films, The Extraordinary Seaman (1969) with David Niven, The Reivers (1969) with Steve McQueen, and They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970) with Sidney Poitier.

He died in San Juan on July 17, 1970 of a cerebral hemorrhage 2 days before his 74th birthday, and was interred at Cementerio Buxeda Memorial Park, Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. [11]


The media coverage, trial, and execution

Soon, the media would become obsessed with the Snyder story. For almost a year, Maurine Beasley journalist professor at the University of Maryland would note that:

“[The case received] press attention far out of proportion to how important the murder was to society as a whole… These were not political figures, these were not people of importance, these were not celebrities — these were ordinary people.”

We have to also remember that the late 1920s were the golden age of sensationalism. Tabloids like the Daily Graphic, the Daily News, and the Daily Mirror seized on the story and created a media sensation out of the Snyder story. According to Little, these tabloids turned her and Gray into a sensational figure straight out of a Hollywood story, with names such as “synthetic blonde murderess” and “Ruthless Ruth”.

Gray, to his credit, knew what the tabloids would do and tried to paint himself as a victim in the case. He described his affair with Snyder to the Daily News in the following manner:

“She would place her face an inch from mine and look deeply into my eyes until I was hers completely. While she hypnotized my mind with her eyes she would gain control over my body by slapping my cheeks with the palms of her hand.”

The real case of Snyder and Gray did not end like Double Indemnity — they were both convicted, testifying against each other. They would both be executed by death by electric chair in January of 1928, in the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York. Snyder would be executed a few minutes before Gray.

A photographer named Tom Howard at the Chicago Tribune, at the time snuck a camera into Sing Sing and took a picture mid-execution of Snyder. The photo would be published in the Daily News, which was owned by the Tribune, under a front-page headline, “DEAD!”

The paper would be sold out in 15 minutes.


The Gruesome 1927 L.A. Murder Case That's Been All but Forgotten

In the 1920s, that jazzy and frenzied decade, America was crime-rich. Los Angeles, no slouch, saw a spate of headline-grabbing cases that reflected the nervous energy and sheer craziness of the era. There was the bloody crime of passion committed in 1922 by the so-called “Tiger Woman,” Clara Phillips, a Mount Washington housewife who beat her husband’s girlfriend to death with a hammer. Then there were head-scratchers like the (failed) attempt to kidnap actress Mary Pickford, aka “America’s Sweetheart.” And lest we forget, there was spooky and bizarre murderess Louise Peete, a Southern belle who couldn’t help killing one boyfriend after another and burying them in their basements.

We had 57 such crimes here no wonder the old Los Angeles Herald newspaper in 1935 dubbed L.A. the “City of Headline Murders.” By the late 1920s things had reached a fever pitch, across the country and in the city. Chicago was now, hands-down, the crime capital of America, all those gangland killings splattering the streets with blood year after year. Chicago also produced Leopold and Loeb, two spoiled rich college students who in 1924 kidnapped and killed a young boy just “for the thrill of it.”

One young man, working at a bank in downtown Los Angeles in 1927 and living at the time near Pasadena, was inspired by Leopold and Loeb to commit a similar crime, and he was just smart enough and just insane enough to do it. His name was William Edward Hickman. This case is the subject of author James L. Neibaur’s new book, Butterfly in the Rain: The 1927 Abduction and Murder of Marion Parker (Rowan and Littlefield, $36). It’s the third book to come out about the Hickman case the first was written decades ago by Hickman’s own attorney, prominent L.A. lawyer Richard F. Cantillon. Despite everything that you’re about to read, Cantillon remained fond of Hickman all his life.

Neibaur’s book gets right into things from page one, beginning at the moment when, on Thursday, Dec. 15, 1927, “Eddie” Hickman, then a criminally minded 19-year-old with a string of robberies behind him, walked into a junior high school in central Los Angeles and claimed that a student there, 12-year-old Marion Parker, was urgently needed at the bedside of her sick father. Even then this would have sounded suspicious to most people, but Hickman was so smooth, so likable and so polished that the ruse worked, and Hickman walked out minutes later with Marion by his side. As they like to say in TV crime docs, it was the last time anyone would see her alive.

In short order, Hickman killed Marion in his apartment (“I really kind of liked her,” he'd later say), then arranged to meet with the girl’s father to collect a ransom, placing Marion’s body in the car seat next to him for the appointed late-night rendezvous. In a cruel twist, Hickman had wired Marion’s eyes open and powdered the face to give her corpse the illusion of life. After quickly getting the bundle of cash (a paltry $1,500) from Marion’s father, Hickman slowly drove down the block and halted, dropping the girl’s severed torso into the gutter for her forever-traumatized father to desperately, pitifully scoop up in his arms.

It was, according to one journalist at the time, “the most scabrous crime of 1927.” Hickman escaped a tight LAPD dragnet and headed north, aimlessly and with no plan he was quickly captured by officers while driving on a mountain road near Echo, Oregon. Because the victim and her family were common folk, the Hickman case was largely forgotten once the murder trial was over and the nasty little runt was summarily executed at San Quentin (only a year later, mind you). But at the time, this case was such a sensation that it easily became one of those 20th-century crimes newspaper editors liked to call “the Crime of the Century.” In the words of one writer, “California forgot Christmas” that year.

Neibaur re-creates the quietly ticking moments when Hickman, introducing himself as “Mister Cooper,” first walked into the attendance office at the Mount Vernon Junior High School and calmly explained that his boss, banker Perry M. Parker, had been in a car accident and was asking for his “younger” daughter, a strange request considering that, although there were two Parker sisters in class, they were twins. Neibaur’s narration betrays his own incredulity that the teacher to whom Hickman spoke in the school’s office, Mrs. Mary Holt, “didn’t think it was necessary to call the bank,” even after Hickman suggested that she do so to check his story. “She didn’t even ask such basic questions as, ‘What kind of an accident?’ ‘How serious is it?’ or ‘Why do you want to alert only one of his daughters?’” (Mary Holt was later called to testify about all of this at Hickman’s murder trial downtown. Tormented by guilt, she would stay on at the school for at least a few more years, but her black hair turned white within a year after the crime.)

Hickman’s written confession, as quoted by Neibaur, then picks up the story: of driving around L.A. and the San Gabriel Valley with Marion for a day, a kind of joy ride during which he came clean about her father and admitted that “she had been deceived” and that Marion then said to him, incredibly, that she had had a dream about being kidnapped. “She said that in daydreams at her desk in school she had also imagined this,” Neibaur writes. Hickman had been a religious youth, but this now curdled into a kind of mysticism that was perverse and self-serving: “It was all prearranged. Providence (was) trying to see if I was super strong and capable of the work. It was all sort of a test.”

The confession gets rougher, relating the hours ticking away in his seedy apartment with the terrified girl: “I went ahead and tied her to the chair as I did Friday morning, except that I blindfolded her this time, and made ready to leave the apt. She said to hurry and come back. At this moment my intention to murder completely gripped me.” What happened next, well, you’ll have to read for yourself.

Hickman’s attitude after being captured was alternately nonchalant, boastful and sarcastic just the kind of smirking young child-murderer you want to slap. His earlier, top-level academic achievements in high school (senior class vice president, a member of the National Honor Society) and his erudite vocabulary made him a weird and baffling specimen to Angelenos, who were more used to seeing roughnecks as murderers, not former scholastic stars intending to study for the ministry. Hickman’s defense included a ridiculous, eleventh-hour claim that a personal “Divine Providence,” described as a kind of demigod wearing “a white suit, shirt, tie and shoes” and sounding sort of like a heavenly car salesman, “appeared out of a blue haze” in Hickman’s apartment and commanded him to strangle Marion. Richard Cantillon, the defense lawyer, claimed later that he really believed Hickman had this delusion, but nobody else did, as the boy had already asked a jail guard, “I wonder if I could pretend I was crazy?”

Cantillon's client was duly convicted and sentenced to death, appropriately by hanging. This is author Neibaur’s first excursion into true crime he’s previously written books on 1920s movies, and Butterfly in the Rain is, as he acknowledges, written from the point of view of someone steeped in old Hollywood and vintage popular culture. Thus he improves on earlier books about the case by inserting atmospheric bits of ’20s music and movie lore into his account of this truly nutty Jazz Age crime. Why did Hickman do it? Why did he kidnap and strangle an energetic, happy young girl, a tomboy he “really kind of liked,” and torment the father whom she loved like crazy (Hickman saw them together at the bank many times) all for a lousy 1,500 bucks? Like some of the spookier psychopathic murderers we’re so used to now, young Eddie Hickman was a heartless egotist who didn’t care at all how many lives he ruined.

So why did he snuff out her life? The real answer is: fame. When arrested in Oregon, Hickman’s first words to the officers were, “Will I be as famous as Leopold and Loeb?”


The Warrens Made Me Do It

The first trailer catches the Warrens as they head to Connecticut to investigate a troubled family. The crusading couple soon find evidence of a curse and claim there is deviltry afoot. The trailer also offers a glimpse of the exorcism which made the whole thing possible.

During the exorcism, witnesses stated they saw a demon transfer from David to Johnson. Ed Warren laid the blame on Johnson, who made the “fatal mistake” of challenging the demons, saying, “Take me on, leave my little buddy alone.”

After the exorcism, the boy was completely cured. Johnson’s defense stated that he hadn’t been the same after David Glatzel’s exorcism. Debbie Glatzel testified that Johnson’s behavior was similar to her brother’s. “Cheyenne would go into a trance,” she told People. “He would growl and say he saw the beast. Later he would have no memory of it. It was just like David.”

Debbie Glatzel worked for the victim at his Brookfield kennel. According to the testimony, Alan Bono took his employees, including Debbie and her nine-year-old cousin Mary, out to lunch on the day of the incident. Bono got drunk, grabbed Mary, and refused to let her go. Johnson attacked him with a five-inch pocket knife. Witnesses described Johnson behaving “like an animal,” stabbing Bono repeatedly, mostly in his chest.


Tropes in the films of Alfred Hitchcock:

  • Action Survivor: There is a Hitchcockian pattern of an ordinary man or woman, through one bad turn, falling into extraordinary circumstances and fighting his or her way out: Shadow of a Doubt, Strangers on a Train, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, North By Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much.
  • All There in the Manual: The book-length interviews François Truffaut did with Hitchcock, generally known as Hitchcock/Truffaut, was the first in-depth study on a filmmaker pertaining to craft and technique and style. Several critics and other filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh consider it among the greatest books on films. It remains the starting point for all kinds of Hitchcock information, though later generations have tried to correct some of Hitchcock's tendencies for obfuscation.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Numerous villains, henchmen, thugs, goons and mooks in his films fall into this category, bearing in mind that these films were made in a different era of Hollywood and American culture. Cases in point: Rope, North By Northwest, Strangers on a Train.
  • Anyone Can Die: Before perfecting the concept of the Decoy Protagonist in Psycho, his films had a long-established reputation for featuring key characters who get killed long before the climax, though generally the leads were safe.
  • Auteur License: Hitchcock was one of the few who achieved this in The Golden Age of Hollywood, though he had to struggle for it in his early years. Even in England, The Lodger had its ending change because of its dark story. In America, Suspicion where he hoped to cast Cary Grant in an unconventional role resulted in Executive Meddling. From Notorious onwards, Hitchcock served as his own producer even if he never actually took credit as producer, always favoring Directed by Alfred Hitchcock as his mantle.
  • Author Appeal: Particularly in his late '50s and early '60s films, Hitchcock liked to cast an "icy blonde" for his female lead. Examples include Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint, and Tippi Hedren.
  • Bait-and-Switch: It's reasonable to say that Hitchcock pulled off this trope on a meta-level that would impact cinema forever prior to 1960, audiences were used to Hitch's style of building mystery and suspense with films like Rear Window, Strangers on a Train, Vertigo and North By Northwest, as well as his TV series. Then Psycho came out, and the first act of that movie was true to his usual style. Then Janet Leigh takes her shower. and a whole new genre of horror is born - the slasher film. A portion of the audience who had read the book might have seen it coming but the vast majority of the audience, both in America and the world was totally shocked and unprepared for it.
  • Big Eater: He certainly was not "big boned." He was actually turned down for military service in World War I due to his obesity.
    • Mel Brooks frequently relates a story about having dinner with him after a screening of Brooks's Affectionate Parody film, High Anxiety, where Hitch consumed a 2" steak, a baked potato, a plate of asparagus and two bowls of ice cream. Twice.
    • James Stewart said in interviews that during film-making, Hitchcock would actually shoot the breeze with actors about restaurants, wines, recipes, and other stuff to try out, and almost never discuss the film or the scene they were working on.
    • Hitch did work out and exercise when he wasn't working, causing his weight to fluctuate between projects. His Creator CameoLifeboat used photos of himself when slimmer and at his normal, heavier weight as a Before/After photo in a newspaper as a way to prove that he could slim down when he felt like it.
    • The common perception of Hitchcock as a purveyor of Horror is based on just two films (Psycho, The Birds) made in a three-year period. Of course, those two practically invented certain Horror subgenres and busted taboos over what could be depicted in a movie, so he still has a major role in the history of Horror films.
    • Rope for example is a real-time evening of an entire dinner party, held in the same room where there is a dead body in a cupboard. The guests are completely oblivious. Only the viewers and the two men who murdered him (their hosts) know it, which makes the seemingly normal conversation that takes place meaningful for us and them.
    • Hitchcock explained this trope during a filmed interview by describing a situation where he and the interviewer are talking about baseball while the audience can see that there is a bomb hidden beneath the table.
    • Has a Type:
      • From the 50s onwards, Hitchcock's films featured blondes as heroines (Grace Kelly, Eva Marie Saint, Kim Novak, Janet Leigh or Tippi Hedren). The movies he made in the 30s and 40s generally featured brunettes and dark-haired actresses (Joan Fontaine, Ingrid Bergman, Theresa Wright, Sylvia Sidney among others). In general, Hitchcock's heroines tend to be either cold, elegant and shrewd (Grace Kelly, Eva Marie Saint), or otherwise deeply troubled, neurotic, suffering from Angst or Dark and Troubled Past (Ingrid Bergman, Joan Fontaine, Tippi Hedren in Marnie).
      • Interestingly, Hitchcock also had a "type" of heroes - they were mostly tall and thin (to the point of being lanky), often with air of youthfulness or vulnerability, and a bit of a Deadpan Snarker as well. Robert Donat established this archetype in The 39 Steps, and other examples include Michael Redgrave in The Lady Vanishes, Gregory Peck in Spellbound, James Stewart in any of his four Hitchcock movies (minus the "youthful" part), and, of course, Anthony Perkins in Psycho where he inverts this trope in a dark and horrific fashion.
      • North By Northwest was regarded by Hitchcock as the ultimate MacGuffin. The hero is accused to be a spy by the villains but it turns out that not only is the hero not the spy but the spy does not exist but is, in fact, the product of a government disinformation campaign, and that the entire plot is fought for a pile of nothing. note Hitchcock noted that this was based on a real-life World War II disinformation campaign conducted by British Intelligence. They successfully deceived the Nazis for several months to chase after a top-secret British spy who didn't exist. Hitchcock was fascinated with what could happen if someone was mistaken for that fake identity
      "I'm a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach."


      Watch the video: Δίκη με το βιτριόλι: Εμφανίστηκε η κατηγορούμενη στο Δικαστήριο (November 2022).

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