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When his son Andy is kidnapped and held for ransom, David Stannard liquidates his assets to meet the half-million dollar demand. A casual remark by newspaper reporter Charlie Telfer makes him change his mind. Despite the pleas from his wife Edith and brother Al, and the resultant condemnation of the press and public, Stannard goes on a nation-wide television program, displays the money and warns the kidnapper that not one cent will be paid for ransom; instead the money will be used to track down the kidnapper if Andy isn't returned unharmed. The police then find the boy's blood-stained shirt. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film was based on an episode of The United States Steel Hour (1953) called "Fearful Decision" that first aired live on June 22, 1954. It was so well received it was restaged on May 10, 1955. After this film was made, it was remade by 'Ron Howard' as Ransom (1996). See more »
This film was more or less taken from a famous midwest case of a boy kidnapped from a rich auto dealer's family in K. C., Mo. He was taken from a private school by a woman in a nurses uniform and the press in K. C. did hold off on the story until the ransom had been paid. The kidnappers were caught within 4 days, and the little boys body was found soon after. He had been killed the day he was kidnapped.
Now to the film. The point of the story is that it is 50-50 whether you get the victim back or not. Glenn Ford as the father who makes his decision to not pay but offer the whole ransom as a bounty on the kidnappers head, was very pertinent in 1956. There had been other cases like this, but the K.C. case was so brutal that it made headlines all over America for months.
As a woman who is old enough to have read about the case, and seen it on the new medium of TV for months, while it was going on, this film is heartbreaking and to me, almost perfect.
The mother and father and their anguish, the servants, who love the family, and the police and other people who interact with the family, and the company people, all are first rate. It is a slice of life as lived in an affluent mid-American family crisis, and all the principle actors are fine. The criticism I have read here does not stand up because the film is a thoughtful and serious look at a dilemma and not a flashy showcase for action fans. 9/10
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