EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|SELLOUT, THE (director: Gerald Mayer; screenwriters: Charles Palmer/story by Matthew Rapf; cinematographer: Paul C. Vogel; editor: George White; music: David Buttolph; cast: Walter Pidgeon (Haven D. Allridge), John Hodiak (Charles 'Chick' Johnson), Audrey Totter (Cleo Bethel), Paula Raymond (Peggy Stauton), Karl Malden (Capt. Buck Maxwell), Everett Sloane (Nelson S. Tarsson), Cameron Mitchell (Randy Stanton), Thomas Gomez (Sherrif Kellwin C. 'Casey' Burke), Whit Bissell (Wilfred Jackson), Roy Engel (Sam F. Slaper), Griff Barnett (Atty. General J. R. Morrison ), Frank Cady (Bennie Amboy), Hugh Sanders (Judge Neeler); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Nicholas Nayfack; Warner Home Video; 1952)|
|"Its tale of corruption and intimidation by
the law enforcers is old news."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Gerald Mayer ("Holiday For Sinners"/"Inside
Straight"/"Bright Road"), nephew
of MGM-head Louis B. Mayer, directs this unpleasant routine expose
crime drama without distinction. It's based on the story by Matthew Rapf and is written by Charles Palmer.
D. Allridge (Walter Pidgeon) is the
editor of his Midwestern big-city St. Howard newspaper, News
Intelligencer, who visits his daughter Peggy (Paula
Raymond) and her ambitious husband, county
Randy Stauton (Cameron
Mitchell), in their home in nearby rural Bridgewood County. After giving
an acquaintance, Willy Jackson (Whit Bissell), a ride home,
the corrupt redneck sheriff Casey Burke (Thomas
jails the two on trumped-up charges and looks the other way as they are
roughed up in their cells by a prisoners' 'kangaroo court'. The
incensed editor when released, while Willy remains illegally jailed,
begins a crusade against the corrupt sheriff and gets many witnesses to
testify about their abuses. As a result, the state attorney general (Griff
Barnett) sends his ace assistant, Chick Johnson (John
Hodiak), to investigate the charges, despite his intentions to
shortly resign for a better paying job in the private sector.
Chick is assisted by the honest and dedicated police captain, Capt.
Buck Maxwell (Karl Malden), of St. Howard.
Burke's slimy lawyer,
Sloane), the brains behind the
corrupt sheriff's shady dealings, sends bar singer Cleo Bethel (Audrey
Totter) to entice Chick and thereby compromise him. It doesn't work, as
the two develop a real romance and level with each other. But soon all
the witnesses are obviously intimidated by the bully sheriff and refuse
to talk. Things get heavy when Allridge disappears and when he returns on
his own, the outspoken crusader refuses to write any more crusading
articles or testify against the sheriff's gang that is abusively using
its legal power to trample on the law by making it work only for their
the climactic hearing called for by the state, everything falls into
place as we learn why Allridge is a sellout and we have to hold our
breaths to the end to see if he will testify despite the potential harm
it will mean to his family.
It's watchable, but as a lesson in civics on why the law in a democracy works, it is not convincing nor that interesting. Its tale of corruption and intimidation by the law enforcers is old news, hardly anything to get excited about. Compared to the same themed The Phenix City Story (1955), this one lays an egg.
REVIEWED ON 2/9/2011 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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