|6:15 p.m.||Storm Warning|
Stuart Heisler (U.S., 1951)
In 1951, Warners revived its crusading spirit—despite the chill under which Hollywood shivered—with this "message film," originally titled Storm Center, about Ku Klux Klan intimidation and oppression in a small Southern town. A reporter intent on writing an exposé is lynched by the Klan and the incident is witnessed by passerby Ginger Rogers, a stranger in this xenophobic parish, there to visit her newlywed sister, played by Doris Day. Against the wishes of the townsfolk, the straitlaced district attorney (Ronald Reagan) pursues the murder case, but can’t get Rogers to finger the hooded homicides. “The first movie to focus on an unwilling informer, Storm Center was (producer) Wald’s comment on post-HUAC Hollywood,” states Hoberman. “Writing to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Irv Kupcinet, the producer paraphrased one of DA Reagan’s lines in explaining ‘the point we are trying to make is, ‘Who is more guilty–the people who belong to the Klan, or the people who just turn their backs and say, ‘it’s none of my business’?” But since Hollywood is business, show business, the right thing must be done. The finger is finally pointed, but at great personal cost.
• Written by Richard Brooks, Daniel Fuchs. Photographed by Carl Guthrie. With Ginger Rogers, Ronald Reagan, Doris Day, Steve Cochran. (93 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Warner Bros.)