• Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Producers: Joseph L Mankiewicz
  • Writers: Bartlett Cormack, Fritz Lang
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Spencer Tracy, Sylvia Sidney

Enroute to meet his fiancée, Katherine Grant (Sylvia Sidney), Joe Wilson (Spencer Tracy) is arrested on flimsy circumstantial evidence for the kidnapping of a child. Gossip soon travels around the small town, growing more distorted through each retelling, until a mob gathers at the jail. When the resolute sheriff (Edward Ellis) refuses to give up his prisoner, the enraged townspeople burn down the building.

The district attorney (Walter Abel) brings the main perpetrators to trial for murder, but nobody is willing to identify the guilty, and several provide alibis. The case seems hopeless, but then the prosecutor produces hard evidence: newsreel footage of twenty-two people caught in the act.

However, Katherine is troubled by one piece of evidence. The defense attorney had tried to get his clients off by claiming that there was no proof Joe was killed, but an anonymous letter writer had returned a partially melted ring belonging to Joe. Katherine notices that a word is misspelled just as Joe used to spell it.

She discovers that Joe escaped the fire and that Joe’s brothers are helping him get his revenge. She goes to see Joe and pleads with him to stop the charade, but he is determined to make his would-be killers pay. However, his conscience starts preying on him and, in the end, just as the verdicts are being read, he walks into the courtroom and sets things straight.

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