Death Penalty Filmography
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Two drifters are passing through a Western town, when news comes in that a local farmer has been murdered and his cattle stolen. The townspeople, joined by the drifters, form a posse to catch the perpetrators; they find three men in possession of the cattle and become determined to see justice done on the spot.
I Want to Live!! (1958)
Barbara Graham is a woman with dubious moral standards—often a guest in seedy bars. She has been sentenced for some petty crimes. Two men she knows murder an older woman; when they get caught they start to think that Barbara has helped the police capture them. As revenge, they tell the police that she is the murderer, and the ultimate punishment looms.
Based loosely on the Loeb and Leopold case in Chicago. Two brilliant
and wealthy young men set out for thrills and go much too far. Meanwhile,
their fellow law student Sid Brooks helps identify the murdered body
of a kidnap victim and finds a clue to the killers...who firmly believe
they can outsmart all opponents with ease. Result - a sensational case
with defense attorney Jonathan Wilk putting capital punishment itself
La Riviere du Hibou (1962)
Based on the short story "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"
by Ambrose Bierce, an innocent man is about to be hung for treason and
he dreams of escape. A suspenseful moral tale.
In Cold Blood (1967)
Two young men break into a wealthy farmer's home only to find there is nearly nothing to steal; they brutally murder the entire family to avoid identification. The first half of the film details the search for the men. The second details their trial and execution. Taken from actual events chronicled by Truman Capote, the film presents a haunting view of men about to face the death penalty.
Special Section (1975)
C. Costa-Gavras' film about Paris in 1941. A young German naval officer
is killed in occupied Paris. The Vichy government sets out to locate
the perpetrators. Four idealistic young Frenchman are arrested, tortured
and slated for execution. It is clear that it doesn't matter whether
they're guilty or not.
Le Pull-over Rouge (1979)
A film version of author Gilles Perrault's best-selling book about the
1976 trial and execution of Christian Ranucci, the youth who was convicted
with extremely inconclusive evidence of murdering an eight-year-old
girl in Southern France. The publicity the book and film helped abolish
capital punishment in France in 1981.
Star Chamber (1983)
Judge Stephen Hardin finds himself distraught when he's forced to dismiss
the charges against an obviously guilty criminal due to a legal technicality.
Judge Ben Caufield, sensing Hardin's distress, informs him that a secret
organization of judges has been meeting and hiring a hitman to kill
other criminals who have similarly gotten off the hook. Caufield invites
Hardin to join the organization. Hardin proceeds to wrestle with his
conscience, especially when he presides over the trial of two obviously
guilty child molesters/murderers...
Dance With a Stranger (1985)
The story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman sentenced to death in the United
Kingdom. The beauty of this movie is that it is not just about two ill-fated
lovers, the way many Hollywood movies are. It is also about England's
class system. Ellis's attraction to Blakeley is more about her desire
to be acknowledged by her "betters" than just by this one
Running Man (1987)
Arnold Schwartzenegger plays an innocent man who is sentenced to the
Running Man game show, a futuristic audience participation capital punishment
television show. While running from champions with chain saws and sharpened
hockey sticks, the host (Richard Dawson) is busy with calls to the network
about ratings. A satirical portrait of "American-style" justice.
The Thin Blue Line (1988)
Errol Morris's unique documentary dramatically re-enacts the crime scene
and investigation of a police officer's murder in Dallas. Briefly, a
drifter (Randall Adams) ran out of gas in Texas and was picked up by
a 16-year-old runaway (David Harris). The film shows the audience the
evidence gathered by the police, who were under extreme pressure to
solve the case. The circumstantial evidence was very flimsy; in fact,
it becomes apparent that Harris was a much more likely suspect and was
in the middle of a 'crime spree,' eventually ending up on Death Row
himself for the later crimes. Morris implies that the D.A.'s and judge's
desire for the death penalty in this case (which Harris would have been
ineligible for, due to his youth), made Adams a scapegoat on which to
pin this heinous crime.
Let Him Have It (1991)
In 1950s England, slow-witted Derek Bentley falls in with a group of
petty criminals led by Chris Craig, a teenager with a fondness for American
gangster films. Chris and Derek's friendship leads to their involvement
in the true case which would forever shake England's belief in capital
Executions (TV; 1995)
This objective documentary on the death penalty and state sponsored
killing looks at the social, political and moral impact of these methods
of death. The film is separated into chapters on various execution styles.
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Tim Robbins' movie about a convicted murderer on Death Row and the nun
who befriends him addresses a controversial issue with an intensely
personal look at the people involved in one such case. While Matthew
Poncelet and Sister Prejean desperately try to gain a stay of execution
from the governor or the courts, scenes are intercut from the brutal
crime, gradually revealing the truth about the events that transpired.
In addition to her temporal help, the nun also tries to reach out spiritually
and assist as a guide to salvation.
The Green Mile (1999)
Based upon a novella by Stephen King, the supernatural—in the form of a large and enigmatic inmate—visits Death Row in a small Southern prison. Alongside this story is a portrayal of prisoners facing capital punishment in the electric chair, and the relationship that builds between prisoners and guards.