6.6/10
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The FBI Story (1959)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, History | October 1959 (USA)
Trailer
3:16 | Trailer
A dedicated FBI agent recalls the agency's battles against the Klan, organized crime and Communist spies.

Director:

Mervyn LeRoy

Writers:

Richard L. Breen (screenplay), John Twist (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Stewart ... John Michael 'Chip' Hardesty
Vera Miles ... Lucy Ann Hardesty
Murray Hamilton ... Sam Crandall
Larry Pennell ... George Crandall
Nick Adams ... John Gilbert 'Jack' Graham
Diane Jergens ... Jennie Hardesty
Jean Willes ... Anna Sage
Joyce Taylor ... Anne Hardesty
Victor Millan Victor Millan ... Mario
Parley Baer ... Harry Dakins
Fay Roope Fay Roope ... Dwight McCutcheon
Ed Prentiss ... U.S. Marshal
Robert Gist ... Medicine Salesman
Buzz Martin ... Mike Hardesty
Ken Mayer ... Casket Salesman (as Kenneth Mayer)
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Storyline

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 <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

You are crouched in a basement stairway opposite a theatre in Chicago. Keep your eyes on that FBI man across the street. He has set the trap for deadly public enemy, John Dillinger... See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The hollow fifty cent piece was based on an incident in which a third-rate drunken Soviet spy, Reino Hayhanen, accidentally spent a hollowed-out nickel that contained a bit of microfilm. This was not a coin found by a dry cleaner but by a newsboy who was surprised by how light it was When he dropped it, it opened, revealing the film. This eventually led to the discovery and arrest of his handler, who was known by the alias of Rudolf Abel. The case of Rudolf Abel and of his attorney James Donovan formed the heart of the film Bridge of Spies (2015).

The microfilm, with its five-character groupings was realistically portrayed in this film, but the story about the landlady is fiction. The "Whitey" character is vaguely based on both Hayhanen and Abel. Due to Hayhanen's ineptitude, Abel told him to return to the U.S.S.R. Afraid of punishment, Hayhanen defected at the U.S. embassy in Paris, abandoning his Russian wife and children. He then gave up Abel. See more »

Goofs

When the passengers are boarding the airplane the difference between the flat and the cut-out section is clearly seen, Also, the door, which was painted on the flat, was too high for the opening and too far forward to match up. The actress playing the stewardess was chosen so that her height could match the painted shadow. See more »

Quotes

Sam Crandall: [Saying goodbye to John and Lucy as they leave on their honeymoon] Good luck! I hope the fish are biting.
John Michael Hardesty: [With a knowing smile] I was kinda hopin' they wouldn't be.
See more »

Connections

References Kansas City Princess (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

Jeepers Creepers
(uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played on the piano at the anniversary party
See more »

User Reviews

 
The FBI For Richer Or Poorer
20 January 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In the tradition of G-Men, The House On 92nd Street, The Street With No Name, now comes The FBI Story one of those carefully supervised films that showed the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the best possible light. While it's 48 year director J. Edgar Hoover was alive, it would be showed in no other kind of light.

The book by Don Whitehead that this film is based on is a straight forward history of the bureau from it's founding in 1907 until roughly the time the film The FBI Story came out. It's important sometimes to remember there WAS an FBI before J. Edgar Hoover headed it. Some of that time is covered in the film as well.

But Warner Brothers was not making a documentary so to give the FBI flesh and blood the fictional character of John 'Chip' Hardesty was created. Hardesty as played by James Stewart is a career FBI man who graduated law school and rather than go in practice took a job with the bureau in the early twenties.

In real life the Bureau was headed by William J. Burns of the Burns Private Detective Agency. It was in fact a grossly political operation then as is showed in the film. Burns was on the periphery of the scandals of the Harding administration. When Hoover was appointed in 1924 to bring professional law enforcement techniques and rigorous standards of competence in, he did just that.

Through the Hardesty family which is Stewart and wife Vera Miles we see the history of the FBI unfold. In addition we see a lot of their personal family history which is completely integrated into the FBI's story itself. Stewart and Miles are most assuredly an all American couple. We follow the FBI through some of the cases Stewart is involved with, arresting Ku Klux Klan members, a plot to murder oil rich Indians, bringing down the notorious criminals of the thirties, their involvement with apprehending Nazi sympathizers in World War II and against Communist espionage in the Cold War.

There is a kind of prologue portion where Stewart tells a class at the FBI Academy before going into the history of the bureau as it intertwines with his own. That involves a bomb placed on an airline by a son who purchased a lot of life insurance on his mother before the flight. Nick Adams will give you the creeps as the perpetrator and the story is sadly relevant today.

Of course if The FBI Story were written and produced today it would reflect something different and not so all American. Still the FBI does have a story to tell and it is by no means a negative one.

The FBI Story is not one of Jimmy Stewart's best films, but it's the first one I ever saw with my favorite actor in it so it has a special fondness for me. If the whole FBI were made up Jimmy Stewarts, I'd feel a lot better about it. There's also a good performance by Murray Hamilton as his friend and fellow agent who is killed in a shootout with Baby Face Nelson.

Vera Miles didn't just marry Stewart, she in fact married the FBI as the film demonstrates. It's dated mostly, but still has a good and interesting story to tell.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

October 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The FBI Story See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (UK)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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