Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Synopsis: Investigative reporter Tom Garrett is on leave from his newspaper job to work on his second novel. As Tom is having problems writing that second book, his boss and future father-in-law, newspaper publisher Austin Spencer, suggests he write a non-fiction book on capital punishment in their state instead. Both Austin and Tom have long believed that the state district attorney, Roy Thompson, has been able to manipulate juries into rendering wrongful guilty verdicts leading to the deaths of innocent people on death row. The plan would be to plant evidence leading to a guilty verdict of an innocent person in a murder case, Tom to be that innocent person. Austin and Tom would document all that planted evidence, and make it public after the rendering of the guilty verdict to reverse that wrongful verdict and hopefully lead to discussion of the merits of abolishing capital punishment. They decide that the fewer people that know about the plan, the better, which means not telling Tom's fiancée/
Director(s): Fritz Lang
Production: RKO Pictures
Rotten Tomatoes:
80 min

I pronounce

this man dead.

Score another one

for Thompson.

You don't think much

of the district attorney, do you, Austin?

On the contrary...

He's an extremely

able man.

Then why are you

always attacking him on your editorial page?

Because I think

he's trying to reach the governor's chair

Over the bodies

of executed men.

I'm fighting against

capital punishment.

That's why I wanted

you to witness that execution.


After you've seen one,


Did you ever

meet Thompson?


He just came in.


Guess I'd better

go over

And say hello

to Austin Spencer.

You looking

for trouble?

Why wait for

tomorrow's editorial?

Might as well

hear it now. Join me?

No, thanks.

I'll read about it

in tomorrow's paper.

Hello, Roy.

It's good

to see you, Austin.

I'd like you to meet

Tom Garrett.

This is our

district attorney Roy Thompson.

How do you do, sir?

Join us

for a moment?


Care for a drink?

No, not now.

I enjoyed your novel

very much, Mr. Garrett. Congratulations.

Thank you.

I guess you're very pleased

with yourself.

Not particularly.

Why should I be?


Peters committed

a murder.

And it doesn't

bother you to send him to the electric chair?

I presented

certain facts to a jury.

They decided,

Beyond a reasonable


That Peters

was guilty.

Under the law,

he must be executed.

There were

no eyewitnesses,

No direct testimony

establishing his guilt.

Only circumstantial


Which you handled


You don't mean

you think Peters was innocent, do you?

He might be.

The jury

didn't think so.

Look, Roy, I've sat

in too many courtrooms

Not to know that an able

and persuasive prosecutor like you

Can make a jury believe

that a thing is a fact when it isn't,


if the defense attorney

Is not as capable

as you are.

Would you have

Mr. Thompson ignore circumstantial evidence?

No, not at all.

I just don't think

the state should take a man's life

In such a case.

In fact, I'm not sure

his life should be taken in any event.

There are six states

in this country

That don't have

capital punishment.

But this state does,

And I'm sworn to uphold

the laws of this state.

It's good to see you,


I'm very happy

to have met you, Mr. Garrett.

My pleasure, sir.

He seems

friendly enough.

And why not?

I've always been fair

to him personally in the paper.

We just don't agree

on capital punishment, that's all.

Well, let's face it,


That's an argument

that's been going on for centuries,

And I doubt very much

that you or Mr. Thompson are going to settle it.

Oh, I think I can,

But not just

by talking about it.

I'll have to be getting

back to the office.


Can I drop you anywhere?

No. Susan promised

to meet me here.

Oh. You two

are beginning to sound serious.

Any objections?

If I had, I wouldn't

have let you leave the paper

When you wanted

to write that novel.

What has that

got to do with it?

My daughter

has expensive tastes.

I don't think you'd have

made much progress

On the salary

I was paying you.




I couldn't reach

the top of his head.

You didn't

try very hard.

Well, if you two

can spare me...

We'll manage.

See you later.

Sit down.

Thank you.

Would you like

a drink?, thanks.



What would

you like to do?

Oh, I feel like dancing.

At 5:

in the afternoon?

I'll take you dancing


Mmm...but I feel

like dancing now.

All right.


I've never seen

your apartment.

Aren't we a little

mixed up?

That's supposed to be

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Douglas Morrow

Douglas Morrow (September 13, 1913 – September 9, 1994) was a Hollywood screenwriter and film producer. He earned an Academy Award for his script for 1949's The Stratton Story, a biography of baseball player Monty Stratton, who was disabled in a hunting accident. Morrow died of an aneurysm in 1994. Morrow's other films included Jim Thorpe - All-American (1951) and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. He also wrote for a number of television series. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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