FBI STORY, THE (director: Mervyn LeRoy; screenwriters: Richard L. Breen/John Twist/from the book “The F.B.I. Story” by Don Whitehead; cinematographer: Joseph Biroc; editor: Philip W. Anderson; music: Max Steiner; cast: James Stewart (Chip Hardesty), Vera Miles (Lucy Hardesty), Murray Hamilton (Sam Crandall), Larry Pennell (George Crandall), Nick Adams (Jack Graham), Diane Jergens (Jennie), Jean Willes (Anna Sage), Joyce Taylor (Anne),Victor Millan (Mario), Parley Baer (Harry Dakins), Fay Roope (McCutcheon), Ed Prentiss (U. S. Marshal); Runtime: 149; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Mervyn LeRoy; Warner Bros.; 1959)
“Seems to have an endless amount of stories at its disposal.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The overlong drama paying homage to both the FBI and the American family is based on Don Whitehead’s book, “The F.B.I. Story.” The screenplay is by Richard L. Breen and John Twist. Director Mervyn LeRoy (“Mister Roberts”/”Quo Vadis”/”A Majority of One”)shows the FBI’s history and how it functions by tailing one of its top agents, Chip Hardesty (James Stewart), and his librarian wife Lucy (Vera Miles), as the agent reflects on his long career and how in 1924 he was a young lawyer who first joined the new Bureau against his wife’s wishes. The film shows how dedicated the agent is to the job and his family, which are viewed as two great American institutions. It covers a span of 25 years and seems to have an endless amount of stories at its disposal.
It’s a predictable mix of domestic bliss and sorrows, and of crime stories told in action-packed capsules. It covers such things as the mad bomber, the Ku Klux Klan, the killings of wealthy oil baron Osage Indians by whites trying to take over their oil fields, the agents being allowed to carry weapons in the thirties to go after notorious gangsters, a Nazi spy ring and the cold war and its threat of international Communism. The renown and controversial FBI head J.Edgar Hoover joins the movie to make an arrest.
For those viewers satisfied with seeing an unblemished (no shots of Hoover in drag) and glorified fabrication of the FBI, this propaganda film is the one for them.
REVIEWED ON 4/21/2011 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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