- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
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- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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- kevin sellers
Should be paired with "I Was A Communist For The FBI" on a 1950s Hollywood Hysteria double bill. The fact that it's well meaning liberal hysteria as opposed to Mc Carthyite hysteria does little to redeem this exercise in propaganda. The characters are cardboard, the dialogue is out of a bad Twilight Zone episode and the direction, while reaching for high drama, gives us high camp instead. My favorite example of such retro silliness is when ten year old Freddy, having been turned in to a red baiting zombie by the pro censorship forces of evil, repeatedly screams to Bette Davis' librarian character, meant to symbolize freedom of expression, "You're a Communist!" while Davis zealously slaps the kid across his face (a punishment this crappy child actor richly deserves.) Give it a D for dumb.
So many great comments about history of blacklisting excesses. I add my Amrn to the comments. I don't know what LM was thinking, not seeing the value in this great gem of a film. Thank you for showing this one from time to time, TCM.
- graeme clough
an oscar should have been awarded but it would have too close to the bone in alot of us towns well done to the producers and cast
Storm Center - Show It Again Soon TCM
- Bruce Reber
When "Storm Center" (1956), starring Bette Davis was playing on TCM 11/3/11 I set my VCR to record it so that I could watch it when I got home from work. However, something happened and for some reason only the last 30 minutes or so recorded. It started with the scene where the father is talking about dreams and books to his son. I've wanted to see "Storm Center" for a long time, so please air it again soon TCM so that I can record it in its entirety.
The Good Librarian: Bette Davis
Anyone who remembers the US houndings of many of Hollywood's elite men and women actors, like Lucille Ball and Johnny Garfield, will find this film reminiscent. Bette Davis had begun to play roles that packed a resounding social or political punch. This one does both. Davis represents the ordinary US citizen who's anything but a communist; Brian Keith represents the government agent who's going to make an example of her. She's a career librarian for the small town who refuses to remove a book about communism from the shelf. Davis' script presents one of the most solid arguments against censorship because it's unAmerican. She poses an important question to the city council: do you think that communists would allow books on democracy to remain in their libraries? Therein lies the difference between governmental ideologies. This little film is much more important because of how Davis depicts democracy as an every day patriot.
A Bette Davis Triumph
The communist witch hunt in the US is behind the plot of this film. Bette Davis is the librarian who refuses to act like a communist by banning a book on communism! As a direct result, the whole small town seems to have turned against her. She even loses her life-long job. That fire in the picture above is the result of what the townspeople do to the library she loaded with choice books. It's about how petty and small minded people with a little bit of power, such as the city council, can be. For those who only think Bette Davis performed roles that were fiery, have a look at this one to see what she does as a mild mannered lady librarian.
Bette Davis Political Drama
This film is currently available on VHS. The quality is very good. Bette Davis and Brian Keith present opposing political views about communism and censorship. Davis does so as a small town's long time librarian who refuses to remove a book about communism from the library she runs. Brian Keith does so as a city council member who is determined to see that the book is banned from the library. This rarely heard of film took me by surprise because it packs a potent punch. Bette Davis had an axe to grind over the HUAC attacks on Hollywood's elite during their ridiculous hunt for supporters of communism. Playing this part certainly makes it plain, through the great script that Davis has, why censorship isn't the answer. What a super film for the whole family. Davis interacts with a lot of children and they are featured in the film.
Must Watch for Many Reasons: Bette Davis
This issue the plot of this film deals with is censorship. Cold War censorship of communist materials, a book, in this case. Only one, not all of them. Not Hitler's book. Not supremacist propaganda. Just this one book is singled out. The librarian (Bette Davis) would rather lose her life long job as the head of the library, than take a book off of the shelf. So the city council, lead by Brian Keith, fires her. That's just the start of the controversy.The whole community will be effected by the council's short sighted decision. This is an extremely well made film on the topic. Who better than Bette Davis to deliver the most significant speech about why it's American to keep such materials in the public for all to read? After all, she and Johnny Garfield ran the Hollywood Canteen, for WWII GI's, and then the HUAC hounded Garfield to death because they suspected him as a communist. I believe this is how Bette Davis responded to the stress put on her friend that led to his death. Don't think for a moment that she didn't use her power as a sought out actor to make political points or to remember a wrong done to a friend.
davis' portrayal of a social hero
alice hull's been a librarian for as long as anyone can recall. the programs for children that encourage them to read have been created by her. a children's library has been designed by her as well.but, when she won't remove one of many books about communism from the library she heads, the city council fires her. she prefers to be fired than to have any part in censorship because she views it as communist activity! hull makes an empassioned plea to the council for them to realize that communists wouldn't allow a book about democracy in their libraries and democracies do permit all sorts of books people disagree about in public libraries. her point is a great one. people learn what they don't like and don't relate to when they are enabled to read such books. she didn't like the book in the least. so an ordinary woman put her life's work on the line when up against a council of all men, standing up for her principles as a patriot. then is labeled a communist sympathizer. the great bette davis portrayed so many women involved in these types of heroic activities.
There's no weather storm in this Bette Davis film. What's happening is that the librarian (Davis) of a small town has chosen to not remove a book about communism from the library's bookself. The city council (including Brian Keith) has voted she do so or lose her life long job. Because she's a librarion who believes that knowledge of all kinds teach both the things people like and don't like, there's no way she's going to remain employed and remove the book. Davis' speech to the council arguing why such a book being read doesn't teach people to BECOME communist, but rather, has the power to teach readers why, as American's we differ so much, what we don't like about it. Then she makes a remark that has stuck with me for years: do you think communists would leave a book about democracy on their bookshelves? Isn't the fact that we don't censor the spirit of a democracy? Great performances, story, script, and messages.
Super anti-censorship drama
The veteran librarian under seige by a city coucil for re-shelving a book on communism, during the McCarthy era, is played beautifully by Bette Davis. This was one of her forte's: taking roles that dealt with real social issues. her characters would provide role models of how the public might deal with such struggles. Bette Davis' librarian is a pivotal public servant to the community who will not compromise the American spirit when faced with anti-communism. Her script is rich with historical lines on the topic.
Wonder and Weep
Every time I watch this film I can't stop thinking about John Garfield being hounded by the US government, like was done to Lucille Ball, and so many other post-WWII cold war, Hollywood celebrities. Without exception, every time the town council, lead by Brain Kieth, insists that their long time librarian, Bette Davis, remove a book about communism from the library's bookshelf, I wonder if Bette Davis acted the lead in this film because of what was done to Garfield. He'd worked side-by-side with Davis as a selfless US patriot during WWII to make Hollywood Canteen as smashing success for weary GIs. Davis' lines in this film are choice on the fascism of censorship.
A film that must be seen
With the US red hunt after many of Hollywood's finest, including John Garfield, with whom Bette Davis had performed a most patriotic act by co-leading Hollywood Canteen, I'd bet that Miss Davis was heartbroken by what the House UnAmerican Activities did to insure Garfield's early death. I bet she was outraged. I consider this film to be her way of responding to that injustice. Her lines perfectly explain why library censorship isn't an American style of educating about American values! Taking a book about communism off a shelf is fascist. This is the film's big message.
An Uncensorable Librarian
The moment I realized this film was about a communist witch hunt, I had a strange feeling reminding me of John Garfield's untimely death likely caused by being hounded. I wondered if Bette Davis had him in mind when she took and played this remarkably political role. Davis was the librarian who refused to take a book with communist content off of the library's book self. As a result, she was targeted by most of the town. This hardly known film is full of significant messages about being true to oneself. My favorite librarian's Bette Davis.