7.3/10
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22 user 19 critic

The Well (1951)

Approved | | Drama, Thriller | 24 September 1951 (USA)
A small, racially-mixed American town succumbs to violence and utter mayhem after a white man suspected of kidnapping a missing black girl is released by the white authority.

Directors:

Leo C. Popkin (as Leo Popkin), Russell Rouse

Writers:

Russell Rouse (written for the screen by), Clarence Greene (written for the screen by)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gwendolyn Laster Gwendolyn Laster ... Carolyn
Richard Rober ... Ben Kellog
Maidie Norman ... Mrs. Crawford
George Hamilton George Hamilton ... Grandfather
Ernest Anderson ... Mr. Crawford
Dick Simmons ... Mickey
Lane Chandler ... Stan
Pat Mitchell Pat Mitchell ... Peter
Margaret Wells Margaret Wells ... Schoolteacher
Wheaton Chambers Wheaton Chambers ... Woody
Michael Ross ... Frank
Russell Trent Russell Trent ... Chet
Allen Mathews Allen Mathews ... Hal
John Philips John Philips ... Fred
Walter Morrison Walter Morrison ... Art
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

I have a wife and two kids ... a thing like this can ruin me !

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 September 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El pozo See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$450,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The only non-Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to be nominated for Best Editing. See more »

Goofs

The gang who was chasing the young man down the street are closer to the car before the scene change of the car driving off. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Education Through Entertainment
7 November 2008 | by nturnerSee all my reviews

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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