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The System (1953)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 18 April 1953 (USA)
Gambler John Merrick (Frank Lovejoy) is the head of a bookie syndicate and the newspaper is crusading against him and the rackets, primarily because Merrick is in love with Felice Stuart (... See full summary »

Director:

Lewis Seiler

Writers:

Jo Eisinger (screenplay), Samuel Grafton (story "Investigation") | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Lovejoy ... John E. 'Johnny' Merrick
Joan Weldon ... Felice Stuart
Robert Arthur ... Rex Merrick
Paul Picerni ... David Wiley
Don Beddoe ... Jerry Allen (as Donald Beddoe)
Jerome Cowan ... Barry X. Brady
Dan Seymour ... Mr. Marty
Sarah Selby ... Mrs. Elizabeth Allen
Fay Roope Fay Roope ... Roger Stuart
Frank Richards ... Charley, Merrick's Butler
Vic Perrin Vic Perrin ... Little Harry Goubenek (as Victor Perrin)
Henry Corden ... Specs alias Morton Kovick
Howard Negley ... Senator Richard Ketteridge
Alan Gordon Alan Gordon ... Big Reuben (as Al Gordon)
Bruno VeSota ... Angelo Bruno (as Bruno Ve Sota)
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Storyline

Gambler John Merrick (Frank Lovejoy) is the head of a bookie syndicate and the newspaper is crusading against him and the rackets, primarily because Merrick is in love with Felice Stuart (Joan Weldon), daughter of the newspaper publisher who can not break up the romance through persuasion. A senate committee investigating crime gets involved, the racketeers, other than Merrick who is a "nice guy", strike back and kill a reporter, and Merrick's own son, Jerry Merrick (Robert Arthur), commits suicide. Merrick, to his own disadvantage, helps bring down the syndicate. Since it is in black-and-white-, deals with crime and was an American-made film, some will call it "film noir" since that seems to be the current guidelines for putting a film in that, at one time limited-and-defined genre. It ain't, and neither are most of the others currently so classified. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

UNDERWORLD OPERATION! (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 April 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le système See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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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User Reviews

 
Likeable Frank Lovejoy can't quite convince in '50s topical crime melodrama
8 March 2003 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

Lewis Seiler's The System tries to have it both ways. It wants to show us that betting a couple of bucks on a horse with your neighborhood bookie feeds a mammoth and murderous syndicate. But then, too, it wants us to believe that its central character (Frank Lovejoy), who controls the syndicate's operations in a midwestern city hovering somewhere between the gravitational fields of Chicago and St. Louis, is at heart a pretty decent guy who'll do the right thing once destiny points out the error of his ways.

That's a pretty big chunk to swallow, but, once it's down, The System turns out to be fairly digestible, if on the bland side. It opens when a 19-year-old kid, armed with a water pistol, gets shot and killed by the police for burglary; he needed money to pay off his local book. An old newspaper man who knew the kid wants to run an exposé on the whole operation and nail Lovejoy; his publisher gives a cautious go-ahead, as Lovejoy is dating his daughter (Joan Weldon, a detachable accessory to the plot). Lovejoy pays a courteous visit to the reporter, whom he knows; both their sons are in college together. But the reporter sticks to his guns, and Lovejoy leaves him alone.

The storm of publicity, however, brings a Congressional investigation to town (making The System yet another '50s movie riding the coattails of the Kefauver Committee on Organized Crime). This so scares the big shots in Chicago that they send down some heavy artillery to protect their interests....

The movie's at its best in its many small roles for quirky players and in Lovejoy, a solid, likeable actor who gets a part that's hard to sell with any conviction. The System ends up being less film noir than topical crime drama, at once both somber and melodramatic (the interconnections among the characters, and some of the turns they take, are soap-opera baroque). But don't put any money on Lovejoy's living in a posh penthouse and buying a flashy roadster for his kid without getting his soul as well as his hands dirty; that's a sucker's bet.


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