The Murder of Mary Phagan

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The Murder of Mary Phagan
Genre Crime
Distributed by NBC
Directed by William Hale
Produced by George Stevens Jr. (producer)
Caroline Stevens (associate producer)
Written by Jeffrey Lane (teleplay)
George Stevens Jr.(teleplay)
Story by Larry McMurtry
Starring Jack Lemmon
Richard Jordan
Music by Maurice Jarre
Cinematography Nicholas D. Knowland
Editing by John A. Martinelli
Production company Orion Pictures
Country United States
Language English
Original channel NBC
Release date January 24, 1988

The Murder of Mary Phagan, a 1988 two-part American TV miniseries written by Larry McMurtry, produced by George Stevens, Jr., directed by William "Billy" Hale, starring Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey, made by Orion Pictures Corporation, and distributed by National Broadcasting Company (NBC), is a dramatization of the story of Leo Frank, a factory manager charged with and convicted of murdering a 13-year-old girl, a factory worker named Mary Phagan, in Atlanta, Georgia in 1913. The trial was sensational and controversial. After Frank's legal appeals had failed, the governor of Georgia in 1915 commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment, destroying his own career in the process. In 1915 Frank was kidnapped from prison and lynched by a small group of prominent men of Marietta, Georgia. In addition to Lemmon and Spacey, the film features Rebecca Miller, Peter Gallagher, Charles Dutton, Richard Jordan, Cynthia Nixon, Dylan Baker and William H. Macy. Lemmon noted during a publicity appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson shortly before the miniseries was broadcast that the cast was the best with which he had ever worked.

The film was shot in Richmond, Virginia with a running time of 251 minutes (over 4 hours), originally broadcast over two evenings.


The film won the 1988 Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries.


Other treatments[edit]

An earlier movie version of the case, with the names changed, was directed by Mervyn Leroy in 1937 and called They Won't Forget, starring Claude Rains and Lana Turner.

In 1997, David Mamet published a book about Leo Frank called The Old Religion. The following year a Broadway musical called Parade, written by the playwright Alfred Uhry, with music composed by Jason Robert Brown was produced.

In 2004 the journalist Steve Oney published his history of the Mary Phagan case, entitled And the Dead Shall Rise. The trial and Frank's lynching have also been explored in works of academic history.

External links[edit]