Home Town Story (1951)

61-62 mins | Drama | 18 May 1951

Director:

Arthur Pierson

Writer:

Arthur Pierson

Producer:

John K. Ford

Cinematographer:

Lucien Andriot

Production Designer:

Hilyard Brown
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HISTORY

The film's working title was The Headline Story . According to reviews and a 1 Apr 1951 DV news item, the film was shot at the Hal Roach Studies in early 1950 under the auspices of the motion picture division of the General Motors Corp. The item went on to report that the film cost between $150,000 and $200,000 to produce and was "first of auto-maker's program of 'Public Service Productions.'" No specific mention was made of General Motors in the film and only one scene included a prominent General Motors car, the Cadillac driven by "John MacFarland." An undated 1951 M-G-M press release noted that the studio had acquired worldwide distribution rights for the picture, which writer-director Arthur Pierson made for Wolverine Productions. Neither Wolverine's nor General Motors Corp.'s name appeared on the released print or in copyright ... More Less

The film's working title was The Headline Story . According to reviews and a 1 Apr 1951 DV news item, the film was shot at the Hal Roach Studies in early 1950 under the auspices of the motion picture division of the General Motors Corp. The item went on to report that the film cost between $150,000 and $200,000 to produce and was "first of auto-maker's program of 'Public Service Productions.'" No specific mention was made of General Motors in the film and only one scene included a prominent General Motors car, the Cadillac driven by "John MacFarland." An undated 1951 M-G-M press release noted that the studio had acquired worldwide distribution rights for the picture, which writer-director Arthur Pierson made for Wolverine Productions. Neither Wolverine's nor General Motors Corp.'s name appeared on the released print or in copyright records. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 May 1951.
---
Daily Variety
1 Apr 1951.
---
Daily Variety
4 May 51
p. 3.
Film Daily
14 May 51
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 51
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 May 51
p. 826.
Variety
9 May 51
p. 6.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Headline Story
Release Date:
18 May 1951
Production Date:
early 1950 at Hal Roach Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 May 1951
Copyright Number:
LP916
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
61-62
Length(in feet):
5,460
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14583
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Recently defeated state senator Blake Washburn comes home to Fairfax County, certain that voters were hoodwinked into voting for his opponent, Robert MacFarland, son of wealthy manufacturer John MacFarland. After being welcomed back by his mother and eight-year-old sister Katie, Blake takes Katie's teacher, Janice Hunt, who is also his long-time fiancée, out for dinner. Blake is uncomfortable greeting old friends, whose words of sympathy sound hollow, but is happy to see former college friend Slim Haskins, a reporter on the Fairfax Herald . Blake is about to return to his job as the paper's editor, replacing his soon-to-retire uncle Cliff. When Blake takes Janice home, he suggests that they marry as soon as possible, but Janice is reluctant until Blake assures her that he will maintain his ideals by working "for the people" on the Herald . Next morning, Blake reads that Ohio has passed legislation to end stream pollution. Reasoning that their state must have as much pollution as Ohio, he wonders if MacFarland's motor factory dumps refuse into the local river. At the Herald , Blake gives Slim an assignment to find out if the MacFarland factory is polluting the river. Although Slim does not like the story, he drives Blake to the factory to meet his contact, Andy Butterworth. Blake asks Andy off the record questions about refuse thrown into the river, but Andy assures him that this is not the case. Blake is disappointed that there is no story and decides to do something else to go after MacFarland. Slim warns him not to go off "half-cocked" on a crusade, but Blake is determined to elevate the ... +


Recently defeated state senator Blake Washburn comes home to Fairfax County, certain that voters were hoodwinked into voting for his opponent, Robert MacFarland, son of wealthy manufacturer John MacFarland. After being welcomed back by his mother and eight-year-old sister Katie, Blake takes Katie's teacher, Janice Hunt, who is also his long-time fiancée, out for dinner. Blake is uncomfortable greeting old friends, whose words of sympathy sound hollow, but is happy to see former college friend Slim Haskins, a reporter on the Fairfax Herald . Blake is about to return to his job as the paper's editor, replacing his soon-to-retire uncle Cliff. When Blake takes Janice home, he suggests that they marry as soon as possible, but Janice is reluctant until Blake assures her that he will maintain his ideals by working "for the people" on the Herald . Next morning, Blake reads that Ohio has passed legislation to end stream pollution. Reasoning that their state must have as much pollution as Ohio, he wonders if MacFarland's motor factory dumps refuse into the local river. At the Herald , Blake gives Slim an assignment to find out if the MacFarland factory is polluting the river. Although Slim does not like the story, he drives Blake to the factory to meet his contact, Andy Butterworth. Blake asks Andy off the record questions about refuse thrown into the river, but Andy assures him that this is not the case. Blake is disappointed that there is no story and decides to do something else to go after MacFarland. Slim warns him not to go off "half-cocked" on a crusade, but Blake is determined to elevate the Herald above its small town reporting. When he hears that Metro Manufacturing Company has announced a $200,000,000 profit, Blake decides to investigate them, even though they are not a local company. He writes an editorial criticizing the huge profits of big businesses and is pleased when circulation grows and former constituents suggest that he run again for the state senate. Soon Blake's editorials attack state lawmakers, especially his successor, and Slim is told to go after local companies. When he reports that local businessmen are concerned and wish that the Herald would return to its former policies, Blake shows his irritation by giving Slim the assignment to report on Katie's third grade field trip. Late that night, Janice comes to the office to see why Blake has missed a date and reads an editorial letter he is writing thanking people for encouraging him to run again. He admits that he has been using the paper to get back into office and refuses to accept her assessment that he is tricking the people. After revealing to Blake what the voters realized, that he was elected only because he was a war hero, she advises him to return to being a great newsman and says that she will not stay with him if he continues on his present path. The next day, Slim and Blake come to blows in a heated argument, and only stop fighting when John MacFarland arrives, wishing to discuss Blake's editorials. MacFarland, who is an immigrant, tells Blake that big business has done wonderful things for America, including aiding the war effort. He expounds his pet theory, "profits for the customer," which posits that customers' profits come from their continued use of things bought. Blake is not interested in the theory, and MacFarland leaves. Meanwhile, on the Katie's field trip to Copper Canyon, the school bus stops for the excursion and her puppy "Rags" runs off. Katie and another child follow Rags to an abandoned mine shaft that collapses, leaving Katie and Rags trapped inside. Just as Slim is submitting his letter of resignation, Janice calls to tell Blake what has happened. Slim and Blake arrive at the canyon as the police are trying fruitlessly to dig Katie out. The police then summon a nearby bulldozer crew and Dr. Johnson, who works at the MacFarland factory, is called. MacFarland drives Johnson to the site and offers help from the men in his factory, but the bulldozer is able to clear an opening large enough for Slim and Johnson to rescue Katie and Rags. When Johnson reveals that the unconscious Katie can only be saved by an operation performed within two hours by a physician in Capital City, MacFarland immediately offers to fly them in his private plane. Blake is stunned by the offer and during the flight begins to think. The operation is a success, due to MacFarland's generosity and the MacFarland motor that kept Katie's resuscitator working. Blake says nothing, but gets an idea and goes back to the Herald office, where he thanks Slim and then writes an editorial extolling MacFarland's "profits to the customer" theory. Janice then agrees to marry Blake and Slim decides to stay. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.