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directed by William Friedkin
USA 1962


In 1953, 22-year old Paul Crump was one of five men who participated in a payroll robbery in which a security guard was shot at point-blank range and killed. The five men were soon apprehended and charged with robbery, but only Crump found himself also charged with murder and was sentenced to the electric chair on the basis of testimony from one of the men who had himself been accused of the murder and a witness purported to be able to identify the masked killer's voice on the basis of a few words). Although he maintained that his confession was extracted through police brutality, he received fifteen execution dates and fourteen stays in the space between 1953 and 1962, during which he had the opportunity to better himself under the guiding hand of reform-minded warden Jack Johnson, working in the medical tier and learning to read literature (penning poetry and eventually the novel Burn, Killer, Burn, the proceeds of which supported his mother). In 1960, director William Friedkin (SORCERER) - then a news filmmaker for WGN - was encouraged to meet with Crump by members of the Chicago arts and intellectual community. Moved by Crump's story, Friedkin - assisted by cameraman Bill Butler (JAWS) - decide to make a documentary about him to air on WBKB.

The resulting film, THE PEOPLE VS. PAUL CRUMP, never aired on television. Crump's attorney Donald Moore - who spoke frankly in the film about police brutality - having exhausted all avenues of judicial appeal was attempting to have his sentence commuted on the grounds of rehabilitation. Moore believed that the film - which made the case for Crump's innocence - would be detrimental to his case since it contested the facts since Moore's case was that Crump had committed the crime but was now a changed man. As Crump's fifteenth execution date loomed, Moore was to present the case (having prepared sixty affidavits from various prison personnel who claimed Crump was rehabilitated). When the profile of the case rose in the public eye, Moore was replaced by New York attorney Louis Nizer who presented the case to the Pardon Board where the governor commuted the sentence to 199 years without parole. Crump was not executed, but the next thirty years of his sentence were marked by mental deterioration as he was transferred to different prisons. During a parole hearing in 1970, he finally admitted his guilt, angering many who had argued on his behalf; but the admission of wrongdoing and proof of remorse was essential to receive parole. He was, however, repeatedly denied parole despite his worsening mental condition until 1993 (having served 39 years of his sentence). By then, his paranoid schizophrenia had been further aggravated by alcoholism and he would end up in the Chester Mental Health Center in 1999 where he would die of lung cancer in 2002. Although Friedkin had offered to pay for Crump's mental health treatment in the eighties and still believed him innocent, he has since changed his position as expressed in his memoir THE FRIEDKIN CONNECTION (2013).

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 1962 (USA)

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DVD Review: Facets Video - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Facets Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:00:00

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.55 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Facets Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Collector's Booklet

DVD Release Date: May 27th, 2014

Chapters 12



Facets is shaping up with this HD-mastered restoration of this early Friedkin effort from a 2K scan of two 16mm prints. The image is intentionally contrasty and can look soft, particularly the grabbed exterior shots. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono encoding of a 16mm optical track is fairly clean but subject to the original recording and care of the elements. There are no extras on the disc, but the included booklet does provide a lot of context to the case via an essay by Ringling College filmmaking teacher Susan Doll about the events that lead up to the film, its canceled broadcast, and Crump's subsequent tragic story. Of lesser value is a second essay that discusses Friedkin's subsequent career (in particuarly the similarities in style between this film and THE FRENCH CONNECTION).

  - Eric Cotenas


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Facets Video

Region 0 - NTSC


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