EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|UNDERWORLD STORY, THE (aka: THE WHIP) (director/writer: Cy Endfield; screenwriters: Henry Blankfort/from a story by Craig Rice; cinematographer: Stanley Cortez; editor: Richard V. Heermance; music: David Rose; cast: Dan Duryea (Mike Reese), Gale Storm (Cathy Harris), Herbert Marshall (E. J. Stanton), Howard da Silva (Carl Durham), Michael O’Shea (Ralph Munsey), Mary Anderson (Molly), Gar Moore (Clark Stanton ), Harry Shannon (Parkie), Melville Cooper (Radford), Art Baker (Lieut. Tilton), Alan Hale Jr. (Schaeffer), Frieda Inescort (Mrs. Eldridge), Stephan Dunne (editor Chuck Lee), Roland Winters (Stanley Becker, lawyer); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hal E. Chester; Warner Bros.; 1950)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Cy Endfield ("Try and Get Me!"/"Hell Drivers"/"Zulu"), soon blacklisted and to spend the remainder of his career in exile in England, directs this cynical hard-hitting subversive crime drama about newspaper people who do not operate always in the public's interest and heroes who are not always pure. It's based on the story by mystery writer Craig Rice and is co-written by Henry Blankfort and Endfield.
At the steps of the Hall of
Justice, mobsters kill a gangster who agreed to appear as a secret
witness and superficially wound the DA Muncey (Michael O’Shea). Under suspicion is crime kingpin Carl Durham (Howard da Silva). Munsey blames
the shooting on the city's newspaper and the unscrupulous reporter Mike
Reese, who ran the front-page story about the secret testimony when he
promised to with-hold it. Mike gets fired and blacklisted from other
jobs, and flees the New England big city to go to the nearby suburbs
and buy a half-interest in the small-town community Lakeville paper.
The slick city guy gets a $5,000 stake from Durham as a quiet
thank you for running the story, and convinces publisher
Cathy Harris (Gale Storm) and her
pressman, George R. "Parkie"
Parker (Harry Shannon), despite
their reservations, that he's the go-getter to run the struggling paper
and keep it afloat.
young boy bursts into the newspaper office with the news that Diane
daughter-in-law of newspaper magnate E. J. Stanton (Herbert Marshall), has been
murdered in the woods. Mike sees this as an opportunity to sell the
story to the city papers. At the family home, Stanton's immoral
disappointing weakling son Clark (Gar
confesses to his father that he
killed his wife because she was going to leave him. But the pair soon
learn that the vic's black maid Molly (Mary Anderson) seemingly
stole her missing jewelry, and the unethical father and son frame her
for the murder believing because she's black no one will believe her.
Cathy is convinced that Molly couldn't murder anyone, someone she knows
from her school days. Thereby she gets her newspaper to back her and
organize a defense fund for her trial. The opportunistic Mike proves to
be a treacherous ally for the cause, as he waffles over what can bring
in the most money for him (planning to split the defense money raised
with the lawyer while, on the other hand, trying to plea bargain the
murder charge down to manslaughter). Eventually, when the Stantons ally
with Durham, Mike has no choice but to reform and fight for Molly or be
is an underrated gem, that very effectively and unpretentiously spins
this tale of corruption on all fronts in respectable American society
and tells of the frightening power of the press to influence public
REVIEWED ON 12/30/2010 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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