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FredCDobbs

?The Phenix City Story? Friday PM 9/25

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9:30 PM Eastern time Friday 9-25

 

The Phenix City Story (1955)

 

A crusading lawyer takes on the corrupt machine running a Southern town.

Cast: John McIntire, Richard Kiley, Kathryn Grant, Edward Andrews Dir: Phil Karlson BW-100 mins, TV-14

 

This is a rare and interesting film based on a true story about how some local crooks and gangsters took over a small town in Alabama in the early 1950s and turned it into a crime town filled with illegal booze, easy dames, and gambling. The crime was so bad in this town, I remember hearing about it as a kid when I lived in Alabama.

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I probably wouldn't characterize this film as noir. But it is gritty, violent. and unpleasant at times. Kiley is good, Edward Andrews is excellent. This is the only one of the four Karlson films I've seen, so I plan to record the others.

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Hey, then maybe you can send me a couple of gallons of moonshine, which I haven't been able to get since I left the dear old South.

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I am watching it at present and the little "turtle bowl" with the palm tree reminded me when I was a kid. I had one that was oblong and kept 3 turtles in it. They loved bacon. Lol.

 

About the movie itself, did it meet the "code" back in 1955. It looks like a type of movie that only adult type of movie houses showed or regular cinemas would only show late at night. Nothing the parents of 1955 would take their kids to see.

 

If my gut feeling is right, it explains why this movie is rare.

 

Just curious, why is the city spelled "Phenix" instead of "Phoenix"?

What I've seen, I'll take making moonshine anytime. I'll save you a jug, hic.

 

Edited by: hamradio on Sep 25, 2009 10:11 PM Too woozy to type.

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I don't remember seeing it back in '54, but I don't recall it being a non-code movie, although some theaters might have refused it.

 

I don?t know if you?ve ever heard the term ?Dixie Mafia?, but I think that?s what the problem was in Phenix City. No Italians involved. Just descendants of old **** outlaws and bandits from early in the 20th Century or even the 19th.

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I never remembered seeing or hearing anything during the first half of the 20th Century in which outlaws or gangsters targeted children. This would have been too much for your average movie going Joe back in the 1950's to stomach.

 

This film is intense for a 1955 movie. Movie has a nice one liner (when you saw the old TV camera), "I bring you news from hell.

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I believe The Man With The Golden Arm did not pass the "code" in 1955 but was released anyway and made a pretty good amount of box office money. So I would not be surprised to see another movie from that year to not pass the code.

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> {quote:title=JoeBond wrote:}{quote}

> I believe The Man With The Golden Arm did not pass the "code" in 1955 but was released anyway and made a pretty good amount of box office money. So I would not be surprised to see another movie from that year to not pass the code.

 

Yes, the old-time leaders of the code were mostly gone or retired, and in the '50s the big studios began breaking different code clauses.

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?The Man With The Golden Arm? and ?A Hat Full of Rain? broke the code rule about dope stories. ?Miss Sadie Thompson? and ?Elmer Gantry? broke the rule about ridiculing preachers. This rule was most likely why Selznick had to add a narration prologue to ?Duel in the Sun? in 1946 that explained the Walter Houston?s unsavory ?preacher? character was only a fake preacher. ?On the Waterfront? broke the code rule about no cursing.

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I heard Robert Osborne said this film had a hard time getting past the censors but after a lot of editing it BARELY passed the code. By the tone in his voice Robert was even a bit disturbed by the film especially about the killing of a child. He said most of the South boycotted the movie.

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> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:}{quote}

> I heard Robert Osborne said this film had a hard time getting past the censors but after a lot of editing it BARELY passed the code. By the tone in his voice Robert was even a bit disturbed by the film especially about the killing of a child. He said most of the South boycotted the movie.

 

It might have been theater owners that boycotted it, because I think the public would have flocked to it by the millions to see what really happened in that town.

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Guest

Gritty and terrific film. Hadn't seen it in years. I always liked Edward Andrews. And that was sit-com star Helen Martin (!) as Zeke's wife....

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> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:}{quote}

> I heard Robert Osborne said this film had a hard time getting past the censors but after a lot of editing it BARELY passed the code. By the tone in his voice Robert was even a bit disturbed by the film especially about the killing of a child. He said most of the South boycotted the movie.

 

I just listened to the outro again, he didn't say anything about editing things out of the movie. He said the 13-minute prologue helped, because it grounded the film firmly in reality and established that the violence in the movie wasn't gratuitous.

 

Also, he didn't say there was a boycott, he said that due to the "volatile nature" of the movie, movie theaters in the South refused to book the film.

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I found this to be a terrific film, I'd love to see it again very soon.

 

One thing I was thinking while watching it was that if it was actually filmed there, did the filmmakers have to deal with local hostility while making the film?

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Thats why it took 20 years to make "Mississippi Burning". Who made "The Phenix City Story" were *brave* indeed!

 

When we look back on this film, one must remember that people during the 1950's didn't see the type of gory violence and unsettling language we see and hear today. We today have mostly become desensitized to it.

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I worked as a TV cameraman back in the old ?Mississippi Burning? days in the early 1960s, and it was rough back then. At times, it was frightening.

 

I covered ML King?s speech the night of (or maybe the night after) the Birmingham church bombing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_Street_Baptist_Church_bombing

 

I covered a few Klan rallies. Only a few were open to the press. It was spooky driving down a lonely rural Alabama or Mississippi dirt road, looking for a Klan rally site, back in those days. It was like the old wild West.

 

And the 1950s were much worse than the 1960s.

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