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Big-city newspaper Editor Haven D. Allridge starts a crusade to smash corrupt small-town sheriff Burke. After Allridge is suddenly intimidated into silence, state's attorney Chick Johnson continues the fight for right. He discovers that the sheriff is keeping Allridge quiet by threatening to reveal the criminal activities of Allridges son-in-law Randy Stanton. Written by
A reporter (Walter Pidgeon) happens to go through a county in the countryside. He is pulled over by the cops and arrested--though he'd done nothing. Then, in court, he sees that one by one, innocent folks are being shaken down by a corrupt sheriff and a corrupt judge. So, he makes it his crusade to bring down these crooks. As he digs, Pidgeon sees that this organized crime runs deeper--these 'cops' help run illegal gambling and various vice operations! When he appeals to people higher up in the state government, people are reticent to do anything--after all, that county brings votes to the state party machine. What can be done? Eventually, Pidgeon's articles have an effect and John Hodiak is sent from the state prosecutor's office to investigate. But his case isn't easy--as the reporter has just disappeared and so has his file on the corrupt county.
Some time later, Pidgeon returns home--briefly. There's not much of an explanation where he was, he's ready to move to Detroit and he has no interest in following up on his articles on corruption. It's obvious he's scared and has no intention of continuing. Can Hodiak change his mind? He sure needs Pidgeon's help with the investigation.
All in all, an exceptional film--tough, exciting and well-acted. My only quibble, and it's a little one, is that the film is a tad preachy at the end. Still, it's a nice film--well worth seeing--especially since the cast was so capable. In addition to Hodiak and Pidgeon, the film has support from Audrey Totter (who plays a great dame), Thomas Gomez (who's almost always the heavy), Everett Sloan, Cameron Mitchell, Whit Bissell, Karl Malden and Frank Cady (Sam Drucker from "Green Acres")--a very impressive list. It was also cool seeing Burt Mustin playing the corrupt judge--the sort of role you wouldn't expect from this fun character actor.
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