This is the story of David Marshall 'Marsh' Williams, the real life inventor of the world famous M-1 Carbine automatic rifle used in WWII. It all started when Marsh, who was one to do things his way, was caught distilling moonshine, and was accused and convicted of shooting a federal officer in the process. This at first placed him in the chain gang which labeled him as a hard case. Later, to make room for those more deserving, he was moved to a prison farm, where he came under the direction of Captain H.T. Peoples. The Captain was a mild mannered warden, who did not shy from discipline when necessary, but also believed that given the opportunity, most men will respond to good. Believing that Marsh was just such a person, the Captain gave him every opportunity to reform, so much so, that he eventually allowed Marsh to work in the tool shop on his spare time to develop and build by hand, a working rifle, inside the prison farm itself. Written by
Bill Walch <TheWalchs@aol.com>
The real David Marshall Williams was convicted of killing a deputy sheriff, not a federal agent. Also, differing from the film's depiction, the murder was an ambush by Williams and his still workers as the police attempted to transport evidence from the crime scene. See more »
At the end of the film - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer gratefully acknowledges the cooperation of the North Carolina prison authorities and wishes to state that the penal system existing in North Carolina today has been improved immeasurably over conditions depicted in this picture. See more »
As other reviewers mention, this is a very good portrayal of one of the most interesting and talented men to ever serve time for murder. Unlike "Birdman of Alcatraz," which portrayed one of the most revolting murderers in history as some sort of a saintly scientist, this film accurately describes Carbine Williams' transformation from a rebellious moonshiner (who may or may not have killed a Fed in self-defense) into an admirable and very valuable citizen.
Williams' brilliant innovations in weapons design made a significant contribution to the Allied victory in WW2. I carried an M-1 carbine (essentially his design) in the Army and still own several of them -- perhaps the best all-purpose firearm in history.
This movie isn't shown often and most people are unaware of it, but it deserves a wider audience.
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