Open Secret (1948)

69 mins | Drama | 14 February 1948

Director:

John Reinhardt

Producer:

Frank Satenstein

Cinematographer:

George Robinson

Editor:

Stanley Frazen

Production Designer:

George Van Marter

Production Company:

Marathon Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

This film was produced by Marathon Pictures Corp. under the Producers Releasing Corp. banner, but was eventually released by Eagle-Lion when that company took over P.R.C. In a pre-production news item, Peter Maher was announced as the film's director. According to documents in the PCA file on the film in the AMPAS Library, the PCA tried to persuade producer Frank Satenstein to reduce the number of racial epithets used in the film. In an Aug 1947 letter to Satenstein, Joseph I. Breen wrote: "We feel that the sheer repetition of these offensive epithets, even in a story of this kind, will probably give rise to resentment on the part of large numbers of the moving picture audience." The print viewed appears to be from a 1955 reissue and is approximately two minutes shorter than the original. A comparison with the film's original cutting continuity, filed with the copyright application, reveals that a number of racial epithets were removed from the print viewed. The character portrayed by Tom Noonan is in a scene cut from the version viewed.
       The film was very poorly received when it opened in New York. Bosley Crowther of NYT wrote, "It is cheap, amateurish, tactless and incredibly poorly played." Archer Winsten, critic for the NYPost , stated, "The film makers and the performers work hard and earnestly. It's not enough. This is thin ice, the point of a needle. It can make you feel actually uncomfortable as you realize that this is the big tragedy, this is the feeling that killed millions of living persons, and it's being attacked here in a manner worthy of the battle to prove that crime does ... More Less

This film was produced by Marathon Pictures Corp. under the Producers Releasing Corp. banner, but was eventually released by Eagle-Lion when that company took over P.R.C. In a pre-production news item, Peter Maher was announced as the film's director. According to documents in the PCA file on the film in the AMPAS Library, the PCA tried to persuade producer Frank Satenstein to reduce the number of racial epithets used in the film. In an Aug 1947 letter to Satenstein, Joseph I. Breen wrote: "We feel that the sheer repetition of these offensive epithets, even in a story of this kind, will probably give rise to resentment on the part of large numbers of the moving picture audience." The print viewed appears to be from a 1955 reissue and is approximately two minutes shorter than the original. A comparison with the film's original cutting continuity, filed with the copyright application, reveals that a number of racial epithets were removed from the print viewed. The character portrayed by Tom Noonan is in a scene cut from the version viewed.
       The film was very poorly received when it opened in New York. Bosley Crowther of NYT wrote, "It is cheap, amateurish, tactless and incredibly poorly played." Archer Winsten, critic for the NYPost , stated, "The film makers and the performers work hard and earnestly. It's not enough. This is thin ice, the point of a needle. It can make you feel actually uncomfortable as you realize that this is the big tragedy, this is the feeling that killed millions of living persons, and it's being attacked here in a manner worthy of the battle to prove that crime does not pay or never bet on fights." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
24 Jan 1948.
---
Film Daily
15 Jan 48
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 47
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 48
p. 6.
Motion Picture Daily
16 Jan 1948.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
17 Jan 48
p. 4018.
New York Times
2 Feb 48
p. 15.
The Exhibitor
15 Jun 1955.
---
Variety
14 Jan 48
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Harry Brandt Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst to the dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Asst to the prod
WRITERS
Scr
Addl dial
Orig story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Ed supv
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Props
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus supv
SOUND
Sd eng
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 February 1948
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 31 January 1948
Production Date:
mid August--late August 1947 at Motion Pictures Center Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Pathé Industries, inc.
Copyright Date:
5 May 1948
Copyright Number:
LP1681
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
69
Length(in feet):
6,239
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12757
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

When newly-weds Paul and Nancy Lester arrive in the city, they phone Paul's army buddy Ed Stevens, who checks with his landlady, Mrs. Tristram, and invites them to stay him him. Ed receives another phone call and, before he goes out to meet the caller, conceals a roll of film in a drawer. Paul and Nancy show up that night but, by the next morning, Ed has not returned. The couple goes out to take some photographs in the neighborhood and, when they return to Ed's, they discover that the apartment has been burgled. After Nancy finds some racist pamphlets among Ed's belongings, they receive a phone message from someone saying that Ed wants to meet them at a nearby intersection. Paul decides to go alone and, as he leaves, meets Larry Mitchell from "Snap Magazine," who tells him that Ed has some important information for him. Mitchell and Paul both wait for Ed who does not show up. At the apartment, meanwhile, a man enters but runs off when Nancy screams. Later, Paul reports the sequence of events to police sergeant Mike Frontelli. As they talk, a large rock is thrown through a window of the house across the street where a Mrs. Fisher, whose husband was killed the week before by a hit-and-run driver, lives. When Paul takes his film to Harry Strauss's camera shop for developing, he accidentally mixes Ed's roll in with his. As he leaves the shop, Paul discovers that some kids have slashed a tire on Strauss's car. Strauss tells Paul and Nancy that his car has been vandalized three times as part of a neighborhood antisemitic campaign. After Paul helps him to ... +


When newly-weds Paul and Nancy Lester arrive in the city, they phone Paul's army buddy Ed Stevens, who checks with his landlady, Mrs. Tristram, and invites them to stay him him. Ed receives another phone call and, before he goes out to meet the caller, conceals a roll of film in a drawer. Paul and Nancy show up that night but, by the next morning, Ed has not returned. The couple goes out to take some photographs in the neighborhood and, when they return to Ed's, they discover that the apartment has been burgled. After Nancy finds some racist pamphlets among Ed's belongings, they receive a phone message from someone saying that Ed wants to meet them at a nearby intersection. Paul decides to go alone and, as he leaves, meets Larry Mitchell from "Snap Magazine," who tells him that Ed has some important information for him. Mitchell and Paul both wait for Ed who does not show up. At the apartment, meanwhile, a man enters but runs off when Nancy screams. Later, Paul reports the sequence of events to police sergeant Mike Frontelli. As they talk, a large rock is thrown through a window of the house across the street where a Mrs. Fisher, whose husband was killed the week before by a hit-and-run driver, lives. When Paul takes his film to Harry Strauss's camera shop for developing, he accidentally mixes Ed's roll in with his. As he leaves the shop, Paul discovers that some kids have slashed a tire on Strauss's car. Strauss tells Paul and Nancy that his car has been vandalized three times as part of a neighborhood antisemitic campaign. After Paul helps him to change the tire, the newlyweds meet a Mrs. Hill who asks them why they patronize Strauss's shop. She states that Strauss should "move elsewhere, with his own sort." Later, Sgt. Frontelli summons Paul to the morgue, where he indentifies Ed's body. Frontelli tells him that, although Ed was run over by a truck, he had already been murdered. When Fisher's body was found, Frontelli explains, he was holding on to the torn sleeve of a striped shirt, the same shirt Ed was wearing. After Ed's funeral, Paul and Nancy tell Mrs. Tristram that they will be leaving the next day. Paul tells Nancy that he saw a torn shirt in one of Ed's drawers and that, after the break-in, the shirt was missing and Ed was found wearing it. This causes Paul to think that Ed may have been framed. While pretending to be one of the group, Ed had photographed them with a concealed camera in order to expose their activities. Believing he might obtain some information there, Paul goes to a neighborhood bar frequented by Ed. The bartender complains about Ed's death, blaming it on "foreigners," while Locke, another patron, slaps his wife when she tries to get him to stop drinking and return home. Nancy goes to the camera shop to pick up Paul's photos but, after Harry's assistant, Ralph, sees a shot of two people painting "Jew" on the window of the store among the photos, he tells her they are not ready yet. However, Harry finds them and gives them to Nancy. Ralph goes to the apartment to retrieve the photos, but Paul opens the envelope and finds his own photos and will not return them. After Ralph leaves, however, Paul finds the incriminating pictures Ed has taken of the group's racist activities. Paul recognizes Locke in one of the photos and goes to see Mrs. Locke, who tells him, despairingly, that her husband is perpetually drunk and blames all his problems on "kikes and wops." She also tells Paul that he and and a friend named Mace were trying to get Ed to help them run Jews out of the neighborhood and she states that she saw Ed, Locke and Mace run down Fisher with Mace's car. Ed got out and tried to help Fisher, but the others slugged him. After Paul promises Mrs. Locke that he will protect her, Locke enters, gun drawn. Paul offers him a deal and shows him an incriminating photo Ed took of him setting a fire. While Locke examines the photo, Paul hits him with a vase. They struggle but Paul is overpowered by Mace, who has been watching through a window. Meantime, Nancy shows Harry the photos and he suggests that she hide them until they can be handed over to Mitchell. Harry thinks Paul may be at the bar and goes there to check while Nancy phones Frontelli. Mace and Carter, one of the group's leaders, realize that Nancy must have the photos, and when Harry is taken into the bar's backroom, he finds Paul being held by Ralph and the others. Harry tells Carter that Nancy gave him the prints and negatives for safekeeping at his shop, so Harry is forced to return there. The group then decides to kill Paul, even though he tells them that Frontelli knows they killed Fisher and Ed. At the shop, Harry tricks Hill, his captor, and they have a fistfight. The others tie Paul's hands behind his back and stop by the shop, where Ralph tries to go to Harry's aid. Frontelli arrives and arrests the entire group, who blame their activities on Phillips, a ward heeler. Meantime, Mitchell calls on Nancy to pick up the photos to use in his magazine's exposé. However, Mitchell is really Phillips, the ring leader, and Nancy become suspicious of him. Paul and Frontelli arrive as Nancy and Mitchell are struggling for possession of the photos. Mitchell jumps through a window and runs up an alley but is shot by Frontelli. Frontelli phones the police station and calm returns to the neighborhood. +

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

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