Review: ‘The Fall of ’55’

Journalist Seth Randal's docu on a homosexual witch hunt in Boise, Idaho, "The Fall of '55," would seem hopelessly old-fashioned with its corny, newspaper headlined, TV expose-style narration, if it were not for its generous samplings of media quotations from 1955 and revelatory newsreel footage, some of it sensational.

Journalist Seth Randal’s docu on a homosexual witch hunt in Boise, Idaho, “The Fall of ’55,” would seem hopelessly old-fashioned with its corny, newspaper headlined, TV expose-style narration, if it were not for its generous samplings of media quotations from 1955 and revelatory newsreel footage, some of it sensational. Unfortunately, most of the poised, rational talking heads interviewed were peripheral to the chronicled events or else were children at the time. After a niche fest run, well-documented pic should easily find a slot on gay-friendly cable.

Through multiple voices reading aloud from newspaper articles and letters to the editor, Randal shows how the discovery of a so-called homosexual sex ring preying on minors snowballed with alarming speed into an hysterical paranoia, leading to the conviction of 15 men and the intimidation of hundreds more. Randal unfortunately relies on somewhat insipid interviews with both a victim’s son and an instigator’s son to dramatize the probe’s impact. Excerpted letters to the prison warden by traumatized relatives testify more eloquently to the bewilderment and betrayal engendered by the witch hunt.

The Fall of '55

Production

An Entendre Pictures production in association with CTP films. Produced by Seth Randal. Executive producer, Louise Luster. Directed, written by Seth Randal.

Crew

Camera (color, DV; B&W archival), Lisa Charez, Craig Franson; editor, Jenessa Carson; music Randy Coryell. Reviewed on DVD, New York, June 9, 2006. (In NewFest film festival, New York.) Running time: 81 MIN. Narrator: Claudia Weathermon.

With

Alty Travelstad, Ron Bess, June Schmitz, Dr. John Butler, Byron Johnson.
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading