Jerry McKibbon is a tough, no nonsense reporter, mentoring special prosecutor John Conroy in routing out corrupt officials in the city, which may even include Conroy's own police detective father as a suspect.
Drifting floozy Billie Nash gets a bar job where she seduces the owner's husband by convincing him to defraud his drunkard wife in order to elope together to Mexico but a sleazy neighbor with designs on Billie jeopardizes her plans.
In a racially-mixed American town, a 5-year-old black girl falls unnoticed into a hidden, forgotten well on her way to school. With nothing better to go on, the police follow up a report that the child was seen with a white stranger, and rumors run wild. Before hapless, innocent Claude Packard is even found, popular hysteria has him tried and convicted. But Packard's troubles pale by comparison as ever more-inflated rumors uncap the well of racial tensions and mob violence. And young Carolyn Crawford, forgotten by most, is still missing.Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As a boy growing up in the 1950's South being surrounded by racial and religious prejudices (My father made Archie Bunker seem like a bleeding-heart liberal.) I remember being impressed and educated by seeing two great little films. The Well was one and Storm Warning was the other. Both were made in 1951. I guess you could say that Storm Warning was an A-movie as it featured Ginger Rogers, Ronald Reagan, and Doris Day as the stars.
The Well was definitely a B-movie, but its subject matter gave it a step-up on most of the B-movies of the time. Keep in mind that this was a period in time in which people went to double features and the local movie house and drive-ins as television was just an infant and not available except to a few. B-movies were generally low-budget films cranked out for more or less mindless entertainment.
The plot is pretty standard. A little Black girl is on her way to school and wanders into a field to pick some flowers where she falls into an abandoned well. The search for the little girl is begun. A man in town to visit his uncle - a rich and powerful businessman - who was seen talking to the girl comes under suspicion. As he is "grilled" by the police, the uncle storms into the station and demands his release to no avail. As the uncle is leaving the station, he is questioned by the little girl's father who has heard of the nephew. There is a scuffle, and the uncle falls and is injured. As news of the incident is spread and embellished with false rumors, all hell breaks loose. Just as the town is on the verge of an all-out racial riot, a boy rushes in to announce that he has discovered the little girl's things next to the well. From that point on, all the town's energies are concentrated upon saving the little girl. The uncle provides heavy equipment from his business, and the nephew - who just happens to be a mining expert - is convinced to save the day.
All of this is carried out in over-the-top B-movie melodramatic fashion supported by just about every '50's cliché character including the strong lawman leader; his sensible love interest; the businessman who runs the town; the pleading, helpless mother; the racially biased beat cop; and young people of both races who run rampant destroying property and beating on each other.
So why the eight stars? The time. The content. The message. Since the beginning of film, movie makers have strived to bring education to their audiences through entertainment. This film surely deserves recognition for demonstrating the evils of racial prejudice and rumor in an effective and entertaining fashion.
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