49 user 31 critic

The Phenix City Story (1955)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 19 July 1955 (USA)
A crime-busting lawyer and his initially reluctant attorney father take on the forces that run gambling and prostitution in their small Southern town.


Phil Karlson


Crane Wilbur (screenplay by), Daniel Mainwaring (screenplay by) (as Dan Mainwaring)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
John McIntire ... Albert L. 'Pat' Patterson
Richard Kiley ... John Patterson
Kathryn Grant ... Ellie Rhodes
Edward Andrews ... Rhett Tanner
Lenka Peterson ... Mary Jo Patterson
Biff McGuire ... Fred Gage
Truman Smith Truman Smith ... Ed Gage
Jean Carson ... Cassie
Kathy Marlowe Kathy Marlowe ... Mamie (as Katharine Marlowe)
John Larch ... Clem Wilson
Allen Nourse Allen Nourse ... Jeb Bassett
James Edwards ... Zeke Ward
Helen Martin ... Helen Ward
Otto Hulett ... Hugh Bentley
George Mitchell ... Hugh Britton


In this semidocumentary, an Alabama town is run by a crime syndicate that's grown fat on prostitution and crooked gambling, directed at soldiers from Fort Benning across the river. Lawyer John Patterson, back from the army, is triggered by what he sees to join the reformers with a plan: to run his father Albert for state attorney general. The syndicate responds with escalating violence: is no one safe? Credits preceded by a "newscast" containing spoilers. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Filmed on the spot in the sin town IT TOOK THE MILITARY TO SUBDUE! See more »


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


John Patterson ran for governor and was a segregationist as were most of the other candidates. The sentiment was widely endorsed at the time and to run on integration would probably have ruined his election chances. He later admitted this and was not proud of this strategy. See more »


A moving shadow of the boom microphone can be seen on the wall above the "Promotion" poster after the fight in the alley scene. See more »


Albert L. Patterson: Rhett, I'm not stickin' my neck out. Why should I? Phenix City has been what it is for 80, 90 years. Who am I to try to reform it?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The initial release version ran 87 minutes, but soon after, a gratuitous 13-minute "newsreel" preface was added and an epilogue, read by Richard Kiley. The real John Patterson used this film as campaign too when he ran for Governor of Alabama (beating the young George Wallace). Patterson filmed the same epilogue as Kiley, and Patterson's version was used when the film played in Alabama. See more »


Phenix City Blues
Music and Lyrics by Harold Spina
Sung by Meg Myles
See more »

User Reviews

Different and Violent Film-Noir
10 June 2016 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

In the 1940s and 1950s in Alabama, the notorious Phenix City is a town ruled by the organized crime and prostitution and gambling are the main economical activities. The police department is corrupt and the criminal Rhett Tanner (Edward Andrews) is the big boss. When the famous lawyer Albert "Pat" L. Patterson (John McIntire) welcomes his son John Patterson (Richard Kiley) that has just returned from Germany with his wife and children, he intends to keep his calm life in a neutral position and work with his son. However, there are serious and violent incidents and Albert Patterson accepts to run the elections to become the Attorney General of Alabama to clean Phenix City. He wins the election but is shot when he is leaving his office and dies. Now John seeks revenge but using the law instead of violence.

"The Phenix City Story" is a different and violent film-noir based on the true story of the assassination of Albert "Pat" L. Patterson. The film has great performances and the violence is impressive for a 1955 Hollywood film. The beginning with the documentary style is boring, but after the initial credits, the film becomes great. In the end, this story proves that one person can make the difference in a story of a country. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Cidade do Vício" ("City of the Vicious")

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Release Date:

19 July 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Phenix City Story See more »

Filming Locations:

Columbus, Georgia, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (without prologue)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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