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The FBI Story (1959)

 -  Crime | Drama | History  -  October 1959 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 1,742 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 12 critic

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



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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The fury of America's fight for decency ! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

October 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The FBI Story  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The character of Sam Crandall is loosely based on FBI agent Sam Cowley, who worked for Melvin Purvis and was killed in a shootout with Baby Face Nelson--who was also killed--in the Little Bohemia Raid of 1934 near Mercer, Wisconsin. See more »


Many of the gangster demises were "Hollywoodized". Baby Face Nelson and the two FBI agents died in a shootout in an open field, not a wooded area. Nelson did not die immediately but got back in his car, drove a short distance and then died of his wounds. The only factual part is that both FBI agents did die by their car. See more »


Firing range instructor: [Holding up an automatic weapon] Let me repeat again - get to know this weapon. Craftiness can solve many a criminal case, but with hoodlums you sometimes need a good conscientious, hard-working machine gun.
See more »


References Manhattan Melodrama (1934) See more »


Pretty Baby
Music by Egbert Van Alstyne and Tony Jackson
Played during the barber shop scene
See more »

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User Reviews

And thank YOU, Mr Hoover!
18 January 2009 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

The FBI Story is a glossy greatest hits puff piece that works well as feelgood hokum until a sledgehammer last half hour that has aged incredibly badly and which probably seemed horribly out of date even in 1959 after films like Pickup on South Street. The first third focuses on the more admirably libertarian parts of the Bureau's history - fighting the KKK, protecting newly oil-rich Native Americans - before moving onto the likes of Dillinger, Ma Barker and Pretty Boy Floyd, with added family dramas along the way. Unfortunately, the last half hour is outrageous McCarthyesque propaganda, where democracy doesn't apply if you choose to vote for those impolite communists ("It was Sunday and he was a communist so we knew he wasn't going to church." is a typical line). But by then it's become clear that this is as much about J. Edgar Hoover's priorities and self-mythologizing as it is the organisation he ran, his claims about the Bureau being non-political and a joint organisation where no one individual is more important than the team at odds not just with history but with what we see on screen. The end caption even credits him with 'making this world of ours a much safer place.' Partially because he disapproved of Warner's choice of actor's politics, Hoover remains an offscreen divine presence, filmed in the same manner that Jesus Christ was pre-King of Kings, albeit with much more reverence. A voice on the phone, a shadow on the wall, an inspirational back of the head, his words are enough to hold Jimmy Stewart spellbound and persuade him to rip up his resignation while his praise leaves him so satisfied you almost expect him to light up a cigarette. And the final inspiring shots of Washington landmarks while a propeller hat plays a cracked version of Yankee Doodle Dandy... well, let's just say that the past is another country and leave it at that.

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