Aspiring secretary Turner takes a class in her southern hometown, learning dictation and touch-typing from young Norris, a recent arrival from the North. After class, Turner repairs to a local soda fountain (a scene that brings to mind the apocryphal tale of Turner's "discovery" in Schwab's drugstore), then heads back out into the street, where a Confederate...read more
Aspiring secretary Turner takes a class in her southern hometown, learning dictation and touch-typing from young Norris, a recent arrival from the North. After class, Turner repairs to a local soda fountain (a scene that brings to mind the apocryphal tale of Turner's "discovery" in
Schwab's drugstore), then heads back out into the street, where a Confederate Day parade is in progress. The camera tracks the sweatered Turner's progress, catching her figure from every angle, while a marching band plays the rebel anthem "Dixie" in the background. Returning to the deserted
classroom to retrieve her misplaced vanity case--having earlier told Norris that she doesn't "feel dressed without [her] lipstick"--Turner hears the ominous sound of footsteps in the hallway. As her face, in closeup, contorts with fear, the film dissolves to a symbolic musket blast at the
Confederate Day commemoration. Back at school, Rosmond, the black janitor, finds Turner's body and alerts authorities to the murder. District attorney Rains, who has long nursed political ambitions, decides to try to convict northern teacher Norris, rather than the most obvious suspect in the
crime, Rosmond. "Anyone can convict a Negro in the South," says the ambitious Rains, who wants a better challenge than Rosmond might afford him.
Chiefly known now for introducing Turner to cinema audiences--she'd done bits before, but had never gotten billing--THEY WON'T FORGET (which followed close on the heels of Fritz Lang's famed lynch-mob film FURY) was touted by some critics as a true classic and cited by the National Board of Review
as one of the ten best of 1937. The screenplay closely follows its source, Ward Greene's novel Death in the Deep South, which was in turn based on a true incident that occurred in Atlanta in 1915. Turner, though sixth-billed and featured only in the first few minutes of the film, nonetheless makes
a vivid impression as the fresh-faced, blossoming adolescent victim. Director LeRoy's 75-foot tracking shot of Turner's sensual strut established in every viewer's mind the sex-related nature of her character's murder without in any way risking the wrath of the censors; if the character was
violated, the Production Code was not.
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