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The Phenix City Story (1955)

Director Phil Karlson was already a master of film noir when he took on a real life murder case. In 1954, the criminal syndicate that ran Phenix City, Alabama —dubbed “Sin City, U.S.A.” in the press — assassinated reformer Albert Patterson. Karlson shot on location while the killers were on trial, and the production even dug up evidence to help the prosecution. The film that resulted is now considered one of the best film noirs of the 1950s, with its unstinting depiction of the small-town corruption. John McIntire stars as Patterson, with Richard Kiley as the son who takes up his battle, James Edwards as a Black man drawn into the fight and Edward Andrews as the syndicate head, the picture of Southern hospitality until he’s crossed.

d. Phil Karlson, 100m, 35mm