In this semidocumentary, an Alabama town is run by a crime syndicate that's grown fat on prostitution and crooked gambling, directed at soldiers from Fort Benning across the river. Lawyer John Patterson, back from the army, is triggered by what he sees to join the reformers with a plan: to run his father Albert for state attorney general. The syndicate responds with escalating violence: is no one safe? Credits preceded by a "newscast" containing spoilers. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the film, John Patterson (Richard Kiley) is depicted as supportive of African-American Zeke Ward (James Edwards) and his family. In real life, following his term as Alabama attorney general (1954-1958), he ran for governor in 1958, ran an openly racist campaign and won. One of his opponents, George Wallace, had run as a racial moderate and told his friends after the election, "John Patterson out-niggered me, and I'm never gonna be out-niggered again." Four years later, in 1962, Wallace won the governorship of Alabama as an avowed segregationist. See more »
When the body of Zeke Ward's little girl is thrown onto the Pattersons' lawn from the passing car, it is obviously a doll. See more »
Albert L. Patterson:
Rhett, I'm not stickin' my neck out. Why should I? Phoenix City has been what it is for 80, 90 years. Who am I to try to reform it?
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After World War II the ungoing crime in Phenix City, Alabama, encouraged by the money from an Army base just across the river in Georgia, got even worse. Gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, and the like helped an organized crime apparatus in the city. Soon it was too bad and violent to even tolerate anymore. This movie is based on the real story of that fight.
By the standards of the 1950's it was shockingly explicit. Although low-budget, that same small budget helped with the realism requiring location shooting. A very gritty film. Richard Kiley was marvelous as always, and John McIntire stolid.
Why this good movie isn't on video is a real puzzle!
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