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The True Story of Lynn Stuart (1958)

Approved | | Crime, Drama | 3 March 1958 (USA)
When the nephew and his friend of Phyllis Carter are killed in an automobile crash while under the influence of narcotics, she persuades Police Lieutenant Jim Hahan to use her as an ... See full summary »



(screen play) (as John H. Kneubuhl), (newspaper articles)


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Cast overview:
Phyllis Carter - aka Lynn Stuart
Willie Down
Police Lt. Jim Hagan


When the nephew and his friend of Phyllis Carter are killed in an automobile crash while under the influence of narcotics, she persuades Police Lieutenant Jim Hahan to use her as an undercover agent, despite the fact she is married and has a young son. She is trained to impersonate "Lynn Stuart", who did time for a bank hold-up, and is given a job at a drive-in restaurant where members of a narcotics gang are known to frequent. She attracts the attention of Willie Down, a mid-level boss in the gang and begins getting information from him which she passes on to the FBI. Her husband, alarmed over the health of their son gets her to promise to quit. Willie takes her to Mexico before she can inform anyone where she is going, where he and a gang henchman murder the driver and guard of a truck transporting dope and hijack the load. Phyllis/Lynn goes to the ladies room of a service station where she scribbles their destination on a mirror using lipstick hoping to be rescued. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>, A. Nonymus

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"I DON'T DARE SHOW MY FACE!" (original print ad - all caps)


Crime | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 March 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Grasshopper  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Final film of director Lewis Seiler. See more »


The veteran cop refers to the well-known Orange County CA community as Garden Groves (plural), instead of its actual name of Garden Grove. See more »


[first lines]
Edmund G. Brown: I am Edmund G. Brown, the attorney general of the state of California. The constitution of this state designates me as the chief law officer and head of the state's Department of Justice. One of the most important bureaus in the Department of Justice is the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. As attorney general, I know that drug traffic and drug addiction go hand-in-hand with crime in general. Not only are narcotic violations the leading felonies in most of our counties, but more than...
See more »

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User Reviews

Gripping story that leaves many questions unanswered
30 April 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When was the last time you risked your life to help correct a social problem, rather than just worry or complain about it?

Now-forgotten Fifties housewife Phyllis Carter did just that. The married mother of two boys was so concerned about the mounting threat of illegal drugs that she served for six years as an undercover narcotics agent. Her courageous work helped to put criminals behind bars.

Or at least that's what I learned under Lynn Stuart's entry on Wikipedia. The movie gives a glossier and far less complete rendition of the case.

Betsy Palmer is luminous as the woman known as Lynn Stuart, an idealistic person who wants to do her part to help her community. As the movie tells it, she doesn't seem aware that she'll be associating with a killer and seriously risking her own life. Despite being a seemingly typical homemaker of the time, cheerily suffering bullying and condescension from her husband, she's flawlessly able to fake great chemistry with Jack Lord, who is scary as the drug kingpin Willie Down.

The major problem with this film is that it wraps up a bit too neatly, as we learn virtually nothing about the fate of Carter after the bad guys' arrest. The authorities blithely tell her she'll be inheriting a new identify and moving to a safer locale -- stunning news that elicits nothing more than a wan smile from Phyllis/June.

It seemed to me the filmmaker omitted the best part of this story -- Down's trial. We never observe whether our sexy, blonde crusader testified in open court or not.

This question prompted some more Internet research. I learned that the Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to a public trial at which he has the right to confront his accuser.

So what OF all that? How disappointing that this question is ignored in this initially gripping movie. Given the seeming chemistry between Down and Stuart, their showdown in court would have made for great drama.

Even Wikipedia doesn't reveal whether a courtroom confrontation happened. However, it's implied it didn't. Special provisions had been made, according to Wikipedia, barring this film's screening in prisons so as not to tip off any thugs who may have been involved.

One sure is left wondering about that Sixth Amendment!

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