Cinema Jolly > 11:30


Stuart Heisler


Saturday 29/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Gorgeously shot and brilliantly directed, Storm Warning is a dark, atmospheric crime melodrama, though in delivering its message it pulls its punches. As an exposé of the Ku Klux Klan, the film exposes its own timidity. There is not a single mention of racist violence or religious bigotry; instead, the organisation is characterised as a money-making racket whose leaders exploit resentment of “outsiders” and government interference. The screenplay, by two excellent writers – Richard Brooks and Daniel Fuchs – amusingly plagiarises A Streetcar Named Desire, with Steve Cochran playing a dim-witted but sexy brute who wears a tight T-shirt, gets raucously drunk, has an adoring wife, and tries to rape his sister-in-law, just like Stanley Kowalski. To make up for its political weakness, the film goes for lurid shock in its climax; to make the KKK unpalatable to American audiences, it casts a blonde woman as the victim of their brutality. These lapses are all the more unfortunate because the film is in many ways so good. The opening scene is a stunner, as a woman from New York (Ginger Rogers) arrives in a Southern backwater to visit her sister, and finds the town mysteriously quiet, hostile, and suspicious. Walking through the dark, empty streets – asphalt glimmering with rain, air still and heavy with moisture – she witnesses a murder by hooded Klansmen, and soon discovers that one of them is her brother-in-law. Rogers gives one of the best performances of her later career as a wary, burned-out woman, torn between a crusading DA (Ronald Reagan) who wants her to testify and the goons who bully and blackmail her into keeping quiet. The film is a trenchant portrait of a cowardly community, where respectable business leaders urge the DA to drop his case because it will make the town look bad and hurt their Christmas sales. The presence of rightwingers Rogers and Reagan seems ironic in this, one of a spate of films about mob violence and civic corruption released at the start of the 1950s, warnings about a society sick with greed and intolerance.

Imogen Sara Smith

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Daniel Fuchs, Richard Brooks. F.: Carl E. Guthrie. M.: Clarence Kolster. Scgf.: Leo K. Kuter. Mus.: Daniele Amfitheatrof. Int.: Ginger Rogers (Marsha Mitchell), Ronald Reagan (Burt Rainey), Doris Day (Lucy Rice), Steve Cochran (Hank Rice), Hugh Sanders (Charlie Barr), Lloyd Gough (Cliff Rummel), Raymond Greenleaf (Faulkner), Ned Glass (George Athens). Prod.: Jerry Wald per Warner Bros. 35mm