The Phenix City Story (1955)

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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,389 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 28 critic

A crime-busting lawyer and his initially reluctant attorney father take on the forces that run gambling and prostitution in their small Southern town.



(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Dan Mainwaring)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Albert L. Patterson
John Patterson
Ellie Rhodes
Rhett Tanner
Lenka Peterson ...
Mary Jo Patterson
Biff McGuire ...
Fred Gage
Truman Smith ...
Ed Gage
Jean Carson ...
Kathy Marlowe ...
Mamie (as Katharine Marlowe)
John Larch ...
Clem Wilson
Allen Nourse ...
Jeb Bassett
James Edwards ...
Zeke Ward
Helen Ward
Hugh Bentley
George Mitchell ...
Hugh Britton


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


ALABAMA'S CITY OF SIN AND SHAME! (original print ad - all caps) See more »


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 August 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cidade do Vício  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (without prologue)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This is one of Martin Scorsese's personal favorite films. 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 »


Mamie: [provocatively as John enters the casino] Are you lookin' for someone important or will I do?
See more »


Phenix City Blues
Music and Lyrics by Harold Spina
Sung by Meg Myles
See more »

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User Reviews

From the mind of an 8 year old
27 September 2009 | by (california) – See all my reviews

Born in 1946 I was about eight years old when first viewing this movie and it left a deep impression.Not only scary ,for lack of a better word this movie haunted me for more than 50 years.The mob goon played by John Larch was terrifying.The only scene that stuck out in my mind during those 50 years was the killing of the little girl and the uncaring policeman referring to her as a "little n----- kid".Those words were replaced when the movie was shown recently on TV,maybe there are two versions of the movie or someone felt compelled to alter a little bit this heart breaking scene.Accurate or not the film went a long way in formulating my opinion of the South and still till today the closest I've come to visiting a southern city is El Paso.That stand may seem extreme but there is a little bit more to the story.When the movie was shown recently it became clearer why it haunted me for years.With the newsreel like beginning this movie gives the impression that what is being shown is fact.The film is made supposedly only one or two years after the depicted incidents adding to its realistic credibility.The terror in the movie isn't provided by creatures or space aliens but by persons living in our society at the time.Re killing of little girl:The recent viewing helped make clearer the impact it had on my 8 year old mind.When this movie came out the only school I had ever gone to was attended by mostly African-Americans.The victim looked like a girl in my class,it was like seeing an actual killing.It made a horrible scene that much worse.Maybe no one will find this review helpful but it helped me.

16 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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anybody know a VHS or DVD source for this film? majortom-4
You think that was the end of corruption is Phenix city? laranadtony
TV showing in July reporterdan66
Cut Before Release? urish
How? MrsFeasterBunny
Version with John Patterson ending? quixotism-9
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