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Films >> Lindbergh Kidnapping Case, The (1976) >>

The crime of the century.

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The nation is shocked when the 20-month-old son of flying legend and American hero Charles Lindbergh (he made the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, from New York to Paris, on May 20-21, 1927) is kidnapped from his home in New Jersey in March of 1932. The press is hot on the scent of another popular tragedy. Lindbergh sets up a command post on the property, and we are led through the questioning and intimidation of the household servants. The cast of characters and agencies that offer to help in the investigation includes mavericks and crackpots, the New York police department, and the F.B.I. There is a generous sprinkling of inter-agency rivalry. The press is played by those with political ambition and a nose for publicity. The high profile of the case makes solving it a career-maker.

The investigation, thwarted for so long, finally gets a break with the appearance of one of the bills that was paid as ransom. Bruno Richard Hauptmann is arrested for the crime. Anthony Hopkins gives an Emmy-winning performance as Hauptmann the aloof, detached, accused murderer. The trial is a media event. And the media in full connivance with the gallery of savage spectators chants their mantra of death. The movie leads us through the forest of political expediency, press manipulation, and judicial inertia. It is a film that hints at the intricacies of criminal justice and political plausibility. There is more than one casualty in this film.