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Storm Center (1956)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  31 July 1956 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 706 users  
Reviews: 21 user | 1 critic

A small-town librarian is branded as a Communist by local politicians when she refuses to withdraw a controversial book from the library's shelves.

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Title: Storm Center (1956)

Storm Center (1956) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Alicia Hull
...
Paul Duncan
...
Martha Lockridge
Paul Kelly ...
Judge Robert Ellerbee
...
George Slater
Kevin Coughlin ...
Freddie Slater
Sally Brophy ...
Laura Slater (as Sallie Brophie)
Howard Wierum ...
Mayor Levering
Curtis Cooksey ...
Stacey Martin
Michael Raffetto ...
Edgar Greenbaum
Joseph Kearns ...
Mr. Morrisey
...
Rev. Wilson
...
Hazel Levering
Howard Wendell ...
Sen. Bascomb
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Storyline

A small-town librarian is branded as a Communist by local politicians when she refuses to withdraw a controversial book from the library's shelves. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Who really set the town aflame?... See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

31 July 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Library  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Legion of Decency did not like the movie because of what it considered the film's "pro-Communist" leanings. Instead of condemning the picture, though, it used a "separate classification" for it. That had previously been used on Blockade (1938) (a Spanish Civil War film that the League also thought was anti-Catholic and pro-Communist) and Martin Luther (1953) (because the film portrayed the life of the man who split Christianity, and also because the League thought it was full of inaccurate presentations of Church teachings). See more »

Quotes

Martha Lockridge: Whatever was the issue? A stubborn woman was fired. Your council blew itself up with civic virtue. The city got something to buzz about. I got a better job. You got a platform.
Paul Duncan: You make it sound like a grab bag.
Martha Lockridge: Well, what do you think it was? Patriotism?
See more »

Soundtracks

Hymn to Our Library
(uncredited)
Lyrics by Elick Moll
Music by Morris Stoloff
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Neglected Perspective
3 January 2015 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Plot-- A town librarian follows her conscience by refusing to remove a communist book from the library. This sets off a chain of events as the town struggles to find its own civic conscience.

Please allow me a moment before turning to the movie itself, which is notable for being the first to take on the purges of what's known as the McCarthy era. Importantly, there's a popular assumption that has arisen about that period and goes with the movie. I want to briefly question that assumption.

Put simply, the main misconception about the McCarthy era (early 1950's) is that it failed. In a sense the movie reflects that misconception in its ending, when the community resolves to rebuild the library. Nonetheless, the right-wing purges of New Deal liberals from positions of influence (Henry Wallace among the most notable) succeeded by leaving a permanent imprint on the nation's political direction. More importantly, the chill that went through liberal ranks led to considerable self-censorship, sinking any hopes that the US might expand New Deal policies into European-type social democracy. Being branded a "com-symp" could not only get a person dismissed from positions of influence, (teaching, engineering, administration, union leadership, etc.), but also risk established relationships, whether personal or professional. Popular history likes to think the period was something our liberal democracy got over quickly once McCarthy was censured. But the senator was only a spokesman of a broader powerplay, the effects of whose chill last to the present day. That's especially evident in the constricted nature of the Democratic Party, which never recovered from the loss of its progressive New Deal Wing. Nor, for that matter, did the vigor of the union movement. In sum, the fact that the Senator himself crashed and burned should not be confused with the success of the program as a whole, which was much greater than popular history likes to admit.

The movie itself is safely centrist, reducing the highly charged Cold War issues to the single one of free speech, a constitutional right that presumably principled liberals and conservatives could both support. Nor does the movie risk political partisanship by caricaturing the opposing factions. After all, the censorship faction has a point: we're in a war, they assert. It may be a cold war, but it's a war, no less. And censorship is accepted in wartime. To that, the movie libertarians reply that freedom of speech must be preserved to distinguish us from our totalitarian enemy, (presumably the unmentioned Soviets), otherwise we loose a key difference.

As to the movie itself, the acting is low-key, though Davis oh-so-perfectly enunciates her lines, while the boy's (Coughlin) melodramatic part appears badly over-done. I assume writer Tarradash was using the boy to symbolize what could happen to the younger generation should the anti-intellectual push get a toe-hold. The photography is rather flat b&w, presumably not to distract from the key message. Overall, it's not a particularly distinguished production apart from its place in film history. But, whatever else, the hopeful message should not be allowed to detract from the lasting ill-effects of that crucial period.


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