Summer 2010: Of Note
Courtesy the author
Let the Record Show
Nearly a century ago, a young girl was found murdered in the basement of an Atlanta factory. The sensational trial that ensued resulted in the conviction of Leo Frank, the factory supervisor—who was Jewish and from the Northeast—despite conflicting witness statements, perjured testimony, and the emergence of other suspects. In the years since, the lurid mystery has continued to captivate historians as well as artists of varied forms. Controversy about Frank’s guilt—and horror about his eventual lynching by a white mob in an Atlanta suburb—have made the case unforgettable.
In his most recent book, Screening a Lynching: The Leo Frank Case on Film and Television (The University of Georgia Press, 2009), Professor and Chair of Film Studies Matthew Bernstein dissects four screen treatments of the case spanning more than half a century, using them to illuminate the complex cultural and social issues at play—including racism, anti-Semitism, and class tensions. Even when these portrayals stray from the facts, Bernstein says, they have much to tell us about the Leo Frank story.
Screening a Lynching was named an Outstanding Academic Title by the academic library publication CHOICE and was a finalist for the Theatre Library Association Award.