The Murder of Mary Phagan

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The Murder of Mary Phagan
Genre Crime
Written by Jeffrey Lane (teleplay)
George Stevens Jr.(teleplay)
Story by Larry McMurtry
Directed by William Hale
Starring Jack Lemmon
Richard Jordan
Theme music composer Maurice Jarre
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) George Stevens Jr. (producer)
Caroline Stevens (associate producer)
Cinematography Nicholas D. Knowland
Editor(s) John A. Martinelli
Production company(s) Orion Pictures
Distributor NBC
Original network NBC
Original release January 24 (1988-01-24) – January 26, 1988 (1988-01-26)[1]

The Murder of Mary Phagan is 1988 two-part American Television miniseries, dramatizing 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 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.

Written by Larry McMurtry, produced by George Stevens, Jr., and directed by William "Billy" Hale, the miniseries stars Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey. In addition to Lemmon and Spacey, it 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, extensively in Shockoe Bottom, with a running time of 251 minutes (over 4 hours), originally broadcast over two evenings by NBC.



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.


  1. ^ "The Murder of Mary Phagan (1987)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 16, 2008. Retrieved January 20, 2018. 

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