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The FBI Story (1959)

 -  Crime | Drama | History  -  October 1959 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 1,886 users  
Reviews: 38 user | 12 critic

A dedicated FBI agent recalls the agency's battles against the Klan, organized crime and Communist spies.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
John Michael 'Chip' Hardesty
...
...
...
George Crandall
Nick Adams ...
John Gilbert 'Jack' Graham
Diane Jergens ...
Jennie Hardesty
Jean Willes ...
Joyce Taylor ...
Anne Hardesty
Victor Millan ...
Mario
...
Harry Dakins
Fay Roope ...
Dwight McCutcheon
Ed Prentiss ...
U.S. Marshal
Robert Gist ...
Medicine Salesman
Buzz Martin ...
Mike Hardesty
Ken Mayer ...
Casket Salesman (as Kenneth Mayer)
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Storyline

The story of the FBI unfolds through the eyes of one of its agents. During his career he investigates gangsters, swindlers, the klu klux klan, Nazi agents and cold war spies. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

You are crouched in a basement stairway opposite a theatre in Chicago. Keep your eyes on that FBI man across the street. He has set the trap for deadly public enemy, John Dillinger... See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

October 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Geheimagent des FBI  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Two FBI agents were on the set at all times. See more »

Goofs

Ma Barker did not lead the Barker gang. Alvin Karpas did. She never participated in any of the robberies. FBI agents surrounded her house and Fred did open fire. Ma Barker was killed in the crossfire, not blasting away at FBI agents. The story was manufactured after a public outcry of federal agents gunning down an old woman. See more »

Quotes

John Gilbert Graham: [after being arrested for murder] In case I get any mail, you can send it to Canon City Prison for the next month or so. After that you can send it to Hell!
See more »

Connections

References Kansas City Princess (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

Wedding March
(uncredited)
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Played during the wedding ceremony
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Good entertainment, but that's all
27 July 2002 | by (Columbia, South Carolina, USA) – See all my reviews

This is an entertaining "history" of the FBI, but it should be viewed as fiction, because that's exactly what it is. What else could it be when J. Edgar Hoover personally approved and had a cameo role in the production. James Stewart is excellent, as usual, and the supporting cast, except for the talentless Vera Miles, is good. Murray Hamilton is especially good in a supporting role as Stewart's partner and best friend. The FBI accomplishments that the film highlights are undoubtedly all true. What is significant is what it leaves out.

One of the most shameful parts of the film is the depiction of the killing of John Dillinger. It is portrayed pretty much as it happened, but no mention at all is made of Melvin Purvis, the Chicago Bureau Chief who headed the operation. Instead, the operation is depicted as if the fictional Chip Hardesty were running it. It has been said that Hoover was jealous of the publicity that Purvis received after Dillinger was killed; Purvis was subsequently transferred to a remote outpost, and shortly afterward left the FBI. This is no doubt why Purvis was never mentioned in the film. But this viewer, at least, paused to think that if Purvis was treated this way, what about all the agents who conducted all the other operations depicted in the film. Were they also completely ignored and replaced by the fictional Hardesty.

The film is probably accurate in its portrayal of FBI activity up through the end of WWII. However, after that point, the film would have us believe that the only threat facing the US came from international communism, which is no doubt what Hoover believed. Never mind the Mafia. Never mind the lynchings that were still going on in the South. Never mind that blacks were being intimidated to keep them from voting in much of the South. I don't know if the FBI had started wiretapping Martin Luther King by the time this film was made, but if not, it wasn't very long afterward that it started.

As I said at the outset, this is pretty good entertainment, but it should be viewed as the sanitized fictionalization that it is.


39 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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