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The Captive City

(1952 b 91')

En: 6 Ed: 5

A newspaper editor discovers illegal betting has been taken over by organized crime that uses violence against those who try to expose them.

Jim Austin (John Forsythe) and his wife Marge (Joan Camden) are being followed on the road and stop at a police station to ask for an escort to the capital. While waiting for the chief, Jim records his story.

Jim edits a newspaper, and private detective Clyde Nelson (Hal K. Dawson) tells him that the police are harassing him and revoked his license because he has discovered that Murray Sirak is running a betting ring. Jim questions police chief Gilette (Ray Teal).

Jim ignores a call from Nelson, who is then run over by a car. Jim suspects that Nelson was murdered and investigates. Mrs. Nelson (Geraldine Hall) says there was a car with a Florida license and two men inside and that their phone was tapped. She blames Murray Sirak.

Chief Gilette complains about Jim’s press coverage and has his letter to the license bureau. Jim accuses Gilette of covering up. Jim asks Mrs. Sirak (Marjorie Crossland) what Nelson was investigating. She says her ex-husband would not commit murder.

Jim finds the place where bets are made and figures out that the gangster Fabretti is there. Murray Sirak (Victor Sutherland) tells Jim to stop investigating and offers him advertising. Jim says no. Jim has young Phil Harding (Martin Milner) watch, and he gets a photograph of Fabretti at night. Jim tells him to go home until morning, but Phil goes to the office to develop the film. Someone beats up Phil and takes the film.

Anderson warns Jim to stop because of people’s reputations. Mrs. Sirak comes to Jim’s home and says Fabretti took half of Murray’s business and had Nelson killed; she agrees to make a deposition. Mrs. Sirak’s death that night is called a suicide.

Jim’s business partner (Harold J. Kennedy) opposes Jim exposing the story and wants to quit after advertisers pull out. Jim gets Chief Gilette to arrest the bookmakers. Jim appeals to ministers, but Reverend Nash (Ian Wolfe) says that the real offenders are respectable. Sirak offers Jim a deal, but Jim and his wife head for the capital.

They get the police escort and go to testify before Senator Estes Kefauver’s committee investigating organized crime. The film concludes with a speech by Kefauver (himself) about how organized crime takes over illegal gambling.

         Directed by Robert Wise, this tight drama exposes the brutal tactics of organized crime and shows that a good newspaper can help keep society honest.

Copyright © 2007 by Sanderson Beck

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