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Carbine Williams (1952)

David Marshall Williams is sent to a prison farm where he works in the tool shop and eventually develops the precursor of the famous M-1 Carbine automatic rifle used in World War II.

Director:

Richard Thorpe

Writers:

Art Cohn (screenplay), Art Cohn (story)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Stewart ... Marsh Williams
Jean Hagen ... Maggie Williams
Wendell Corey ... Capt. H.T. Peoples
Carl Benton Reid ... Claude Williams
Paul Stewart ... 'Dutch' Kruger
Otto Hulett ... Mobley
Rhys Williams ... Redwick Karson
Herbert Heyes ... Lionel Daniels
James Arness ... Leon Williams
Porter Hall ... Sam Markley
Fay Roope Fay Roope ... Ed - District Attorney
Ralph Dumke Ralph Dumke ... Andrew White
Leif Erickson ... Feder
Henry Corden ... Bill Stockton
Frank Richards ... Truex
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Storyline

This is the story of David Marshall 'Marsh' Williams, the real life inventor of the world famous M-1 Carbine automatic rifle used in WWII. It all started when Marsh, who was one to do things his way, was caught distilling moonshine, and was accused and convicted of shooting a federal officer in the process. This at first placed him in the chain gang which labeled him as a hard case. Later, to make room for those more deserving, he was moved to a prison farm, where he came under the direction of Captain H.T. Peoples. The Captain was a mild mannered warden, who did not shy from discipline when necessary, but also believed that given the opportunity, most men will respond to good. Believing that Marsh was just such a person, the Captain gave him every opportunity to reform, so much so, that he eventually allowed Marsh to work in the tool shop on his spare time to develop and build by hand, a working rifle, inside the prison farm itself. Written by Bill Walch <TheWalchs@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

This is my Story

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

May 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Man with a Record See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,111,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,787,000, 31 December 1952

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,589,000, 31 December 1952
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

In the film, all of the men working on the still with Williams were white. But in reality, it was five African-American men, all of whom testified against Williams at trial. See more »

Crazy Credits

At the beginning of the film - The March, 1951 issue of Reader's Digest published an article in its series. "The Most Unforgettable Character I've Met." That character is David Marshall Williams - and this is his story. He lived it. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Redeemed By A Gun
19 November 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Ten years before Burt Lancaster came out with the acclaimed Birdman of Alcatraz, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced this neglected gem of a film starring a dark and brooding James Stewart as David Marshall Williams who invented the M-1 carbine rifle while in prison.

Before writing this review I took a look at the wikipedia article on Marsh Williams and found that MGM had stuck pretty close to telling the real story about Williams. For the farmer the Great Depression began after the Armistice was signed and the food they produced was no longer needed to feed troops. Many like Marsh Williams turned to making moonshine, not just as a way of distilling spirits for personal use, but for economic survival. That fact cannot be emphasized enough in telling the Carbine Williams story.

The federal men were seen as taking the bread out of the farmer's mouths in the North Carolina hills and other such places and the rural folk reacted accordingly. Williams was convicted of murdering a federal agent during a raid. He didn't get the death penalty because no one could tell who really fired the fatal shot, but as he was part of the group he shared responsibility. He got thirty years.

Williams was a skilled machinist and after he got over the bitterness of his incarceration with the help of a friendly warden he worked out the design of the weapon that later became the M-1 carbine rifle used by our armed forces in World War II.

James Stewart in developing his character as Marsh Williams borrowed a whole lot from some of the characters in his Anthony Mann westerns. This is not the 'aw shucks' Jimmy we all identify him with, but a very bitter man, as bitter even as George Bailey when he thinks the world's deserted him in It's A Wonderful Life.

Jean Hagen plays the Donna Reed like wife here who with a man incarcerated has a lot more troubles than Ms. Reed dealt with. The third major role is that of Wendell Corey's warden whose belief in Stewart is sustained.

Carbine Williams tread earlier along the same lines that Birdman of Alcatraz did. And in depicting the moonshining community, Carbine Williams shows folks that could have been the ancestors of the family Robert Mitchum was part of in Thunder Road. It's a good story about a man who found his soul and his work in the oddest of places.


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