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The Phenix City Story

The Phenix City Story (1955)


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Release Date: Aug 14, 1955 Wide



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 231

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Movie Info

Based on actual events, The Phenix City Story tells the tale of a wide-open "Sin City" in Alabama (across a bridge from Columbus, GA, and just a stone's throw from the Ft. Benning Army base) where gambling, prostitution, and any number of other vices were tolerated openly by the law, most of it centered on the main downtown drag, 14th Street, thanks to the 50-year influence of organized crime on the local government. Reform groups, mostly in the form of vigilantes, had tried to clean up "the





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All Critics (11) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (6) | Rotten (0)

A nasty docudrama profile.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

... one of the most hard-hitting crime films of its era... inspired by real-life events and directed in a semi-documentary style with a tabloid punch.

August 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

Karlson's finest hour.

July 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Brilliant social commentary film - an extraordinary view of society in 1955.

August 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Classic Film and Television
Classic Film and Television

Its borderline-obscene wallop is derived from its brusque brutality.

May 15, 2006 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Richard Kiley does a fine job as the crusading reformer.

March 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Phenix City Story

Hmmm. I don't know about this one. The Phenix City Story in itself was pretty decent. Said to have been based on a true story of citizens fighting against a tradition of vice and corruption, The Phenix City Story tells its story effectively and at some points gruesomely (you see kids getting killed in this movie--almost comically but still.) More of a crime documentary than the obscure film noir classic its made out to be, this isn't a bad movie. Some scenes are very well done even if elements of the story aren't fleshed out so well. The biggest problem I had with The Phenix City story was the opening 15 minutes of man-on-the-street interview footage with the actual people who lived through the story. I understand the desire to make the movie more authentic or real, but the hokey and heavy-handed interviews were a bit much. Overall, not bad...
September 23, 2010

Super Reviewer

If you watch even a little bit of "The Phenix City Story", you'll know it was based on real events, the circumstances surrounding which are actually quite riveting. It's unfortunate then that the film regarding these events is so clumsy. After a short "newsreel" (where a reporter interviews some of the actual participants of the story), the film opens with a young man trying to get his girlfriend to quit her job as a dealer in one of Phenix City's several gambling dens. That Phenix City is in Alabama and both these actors speak with clear and obvious yankee accents is distracting, to say the least. Not only do several of the actors not even attempt an accent, some don't even attempt to act. The first half of the film is strictly B-movie grade MST3K type stuff. Phenix City, Alabama was once the sin capital (also known as the "wickedest city in the United States") of the United States, long before Las Vegas was even dreamt of. For 100 years, the "machine" ruled the city, raking in untold cash which, at the time the events of the film took place (early 1950s), added up to millions of dollars a year. Citizen groups occasionally rose up to challenge the mob, but they were usually squashed all too quickly by strong arm tactics and voter fraud. Yes, Phenix City, from the city hall and police force on down, was totally corrupt and on the take. That is, until John Patterson returned from serving overseas in Germany during the war. John saw his friends beaten and murdered joined in the fight against the mob. When his father, Albert Patterson, a great and famous attorney saw what his son was involved in, and became convinced he could no longer sit idly by. The father ran for attorney general of Alabama, on a platform that he would clean up Phenix City for good. It's quite a harrowing tale, and with a substantial amount of shockingly hard-nosed 1950s violence. Cheap sets and bad acting aside, the film is really quite something, although I think the newsreel portion of the film would've worked better as an epilogue rather than a prologue.
August 11, 2010
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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  • The Phenix City Story (1955) (DE)
  • The Phenix City Story (1955) (UK)
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