20 user 18 critic

The Well (1951)

A small, racially mixed American town succumbs to violence and utter mayhem after a white man, who is suspected of kidnapping a missing black girl, is released by the white authority.


(as Leo Popkin),


(written for the screen by), (written for the screen by)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Impact (1949)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A unfaithful wife plots with her lover to kill her husband, but the lover is accidentally killed instead. The husband stays in hiding, and lets his wife be charged with conspiracy.

Director: Arthur Lubin
Stars: Brian Donlevy, Ella Raines, Charles Coburn
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Violent fugitive and mistreated small boy team up to flee from authority.

Director: Charles Crichton
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Jon Whiteley, Elizabeth Sellars
Black Angel (1946)
Crime | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When Kirk Bennett is convicted of a singer's murder, his wife tries to prove him innocent...aided by the victim's ex-husband.

Director: Roy William Neill
Stars: Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Bill Dietrich becomes a double agent for the FBI in a Nazi spy ring.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: William Eythe, Lloyd Nolan, Signe Hasso
Man Hunt (1941)
Drama | Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

British hunter Thorndike vacationing in Bavaria has Hitler in his gun sight. He is captured, beaten, left for dead, and escapes back to London where he is hounded by German agents and aided by a young woman.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Joan Bennett, George Sanders
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

With his newspaper about to be sold, crusading editor Ed Hutcheson tries to complete an exposé on gangster Rienzi.

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ethel Barrymore, Kim Hunter
Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A German submarine is sent to the Orkney Isles in 1917 to sink the British fleet.

Director: Michael Powell
Stars: Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson, Sebastian Shaw
The Red House (1947)
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An old man and his sister are concealing a terrible secret from their adopted teen daughter, concerning a hidden abandon farmhouse, located deep in the woods.

Director: Delmer Daves
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Lon McCallister, Judith Anderson
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Police Lieut. Candella, longtime friend of the Rome family, walks a tightrope in the case of cop-killer Martin Rome.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Victor Mature, Richard Conte, Fred Clark
Flamingo Road (1949)
Drama | Film-Noir | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A small town corrupt sheriff manipulates local candidates to the state legislature but he eventually comes into conflict with an out-of-town carnival dancer.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Joan Crawford, Zachary Scott, Sydney Greenstreet
Tension (1949)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A meek pharmacist creates an alternate identity under which he plans to murder the bullying liquor salesman who has become his wife's lover.

Director: John Berry
Stars: Richard Basehart, Audrey Totter, Cyd Charisse
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A veteran homicide detective who has witnessed his socialite girlfriend kill her husband sees his inexperienced brother assigned to the case.

Director: Felix E. Feist
Stars: Lee J. Cobb, Jane Wyatt, John Dall


Cast overview, first billed only:
Gwendolyn Laster ...
Richard Rober ...
Ben Kellog
Mrs. Crawford
George Hamilton ...
Ernest Anderson ...
Mr. Crawford
Pat Mitchell ...
Margaret Wells ...
Wheaton Chambers ...
Michael Ross ...
Russell Trent ...
Allen Mathews ...
John Philips ...
Walter Morrison ...


In a racially mixed American town, a 5-year-old black girl falls unnoticed into a hidden, forgotten well on her way to school. Having nothing better to go on, the police follow up a report that the child was seen with a white stranger, and rumors run wild. Before hapless, innocent Claude Packard is even found, popular hysteria has him tried and convicted. But Packard's troubles pale by comparison as ever more inflated rumors uncap the well of racial tensions and mob violence. And young Carolyn Crawford, forgotten by most, is still missing... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


I have a wife and two kids ... a thing like this can ruin me !


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

10 September 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El pozo  »

Box Office


$450,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The gang who was chasing the young man down the street are closer to the car before the scene change of the car driving off. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Excellent and potent sleeper from the early 50s.
8 August 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is a normal small American town, for years the mixed race inhabitants have lived in total harmony as one community. But when little black girl Carolyn Crawford falls down a well, she's feared to have been kidnapped, and this after having last being seen with a white man in town. This town becomes something completely different....

The Well, a B budgeted movie with a cast consisting largely of unknowns. Dually directed by two equally unheralded men. Boasting a DVD cover that has nothing to do with the theme of the film, and shunted out of conscious by the release the same year of Billy Wilder's bigger produced, "person in underground peril," Ace In The Hole.

It's a crime in itself that this B movie gem has had the odds stacked against it getting wider and more productive exposure. For thematically, which is three fold, it's a film that desperately deserves more people to take it on and appraise it in the modern age. Released in 1951, before racial tensions were to explode into American history, The Well is a brave offering from co-writer's Russell Rouse {also co-director} and Clarence Greene. Not content to just offer up a one dimensional rescue piece concerning mixed races, they take the ugly racial aggression here and sit it next to the ugliness of human wild fire ignorance. From a dubiously casted assumption, this town implodes, and it's an ugliness that paints the human race in a dim and unflattering light. Even the police, on who this town depends on, are pulled along by the tide of insanity. Five burly officers interrogating one bemused and frightened suspect, they have their man regardless of facts. Something that over the course of history we know has reared its ugly head. It very much reminded me of a Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode called "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street". Anyone familiar with that particular piece will have some idea of what drives The Well forward.

Possibly part inspired by the sad and tragic case of little Kathy Fiscus, who in 1949 fell down a San Marino well, Rouse's picture shifts to an equally, and engrossing gear for its final third. After having been caught up in the town coming apart, we, as well as the town, suddenly get a jolt back to earth. There is after all a little girl missing here. Now we get the inevitable tonal shift that most viewers would have expected, but it's no less dramatic for it. And it's now when the film well and truly makes its point, a point of reference that should be heeded as long as we all shall live.

Having a cast of relative no names, tho Barry Kelley as Sam Packard and Harry Morgan as Claude Packard will be names to some {ie:me!} really gives the film a grounded in reality feel. It's not hard to accept these people as small town residents, and thus the film is far better for it. The story is further aided by the score from Dimitri Tiomkin, at times funereal, at others a booming bombastic character itself. Sadly the print of the film is desperately in need of a remaster, which as it's unlikely to get one, means that the cinematography work of Ernest Laszlo struggles to come thru. But don't let the print put you off, if you get the chance to see this film then don't pass up the chance, for you may find yourself better off for the experience. 9/10

10 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: