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The FBI Story (1959)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, History | October 1959 (USA)
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3:16 | Trailer

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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 »
Reviews
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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

October 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Geheimagent des FBI 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

While this movie depicts "Ma" Barker as a notorious criminal, this was the result of J. Edgar Hoover needing to rationalize the killing of an old woman. Surviving gang members later stated that while she was an accomplice and was aware of their activities, she never participated in them and did not plan them. According to the bank robber Harvey Bailey, who knew the Barkers well, Ma Barker "couldn't plan breakfast", much less a criminal enterprise. According to the actual leader of the gang, Alvin Karpis, she was just "an old-fashioned homebody from the Ozarks... superstitious, gullible, simple, cantankerous and, well, generally law abiding". Whenever the gang undertook a bank robbery or other major crime, they sent Ma to the movies. See more »

Goofs

During the war with Germany, Agent Hardesty is seen flying over Rio in a DC-6 or DC-7. Neither saw service until 1946 and 1953 respectively, after that war ended. See more »

Quotes

Lucy Ann Hardesty: Chip, you can't just get married like ordering a ham sandwich!
John Michael Hardesty: You can if you're hungry!
See more »


Soundtracks

The Fountain in the Park
(uncredited)
aka "While Strolling Through the Park One Day"
Music by Ed Haley
Played during Central Park scene
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Good entertainment, but that's all
27 July 2002 | by wjficklingSee all my reviews

This is an entertaining "history" of the FBI, but it should be viewed as fiction, because that's exactly what it is. What else could it be when J. Edgar Hoover personally approved and had a cameo role in the production. James Stewart is excellent, as usual, and the supporting cast, except for the talentless Vera Miles, is good. Murray Hamilton is especially good in a supporting role as Stewart's partner and best friend. The FBI accomplishments that the film highlights are undoubtedly all true. What is significant is what it leaves out.

One of the most shameful parts of the film is the depiction of the killing of John Dillinger. It is portrayed pretty much as it happened, but no mention at all is made of Melvin Purvis, the Chicago Bureau Chief who headed the operation. Instead, the operation is depicted as if the fictional Chip Hardesty were running it. It has been said that Hoover was jealous of the publicity that Purvis received after Dillinger was killed; Purvis was subsequently transferred to a remote outpost, and shortly afterward left the FBI. This is no doubt why Purvis was never mentioned in the film. But this viewer, at least, paused to think that if Purvis was treated this way, what about all the agents who conducted all the other operations depicted in the film. Were they also completely ignored and replaced by the fictional Hardesty.

The film is probably accurate in its portrayal of FBI activity up through the end of WWII. However, after that point, the film would have us believe that the only threat facing the US came from international communism, which is no doubt what Hoover believed. Never mind the Mafia. Never mind the lynchings that were still going on in the South. Never mind that blacks were being intimidated to keep them from voting in much of the South. I don't know if the FBI had started wiretapping Martin Luther King by the time this film was made, but if not, it wasn't very long afterward that it started.

As I said at the outset, this is pretty good entertainment, but it should be viewed as the sanitized fictionalization that it is.


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