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The FBI Story


The FBI Story (1959), starring Jimmy Stewart, Vera Miles

Synopsis of The FBI Story

The FBI Story is a Hollywood biography of the early years of the FBI, told via flashback through the life story of one of its early agents.

Review of The FBI Story

As with most Hollywood biographies, The FBI Story needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  Having said that, Jimmy Stewart does a wonderful job of portraying the early FBI agent.  The story intertwines his personal life story with that of the agency.  The story works well, with the various personal moments mingling well with the agency’s growing pains.

At one point, Jimmy Stewart’s best friend and partner Sam (Murray Hamilton) is killed in the line of duty.  And Jimmy’s wife (played excellently by Vera Miles) wants him to leave the agency.  She has a very legitimate fear of becoming a widow, and can’t live with the stress.  After all, she married a lawyer, not an FBI agent.  She even leaves him for a time, although they reconcile in the end.

Years later, Sam’s son is in training to become an agent and doesn’t think that he can pass muster.  He asks Jimmy’s character to not try to talk him out of it.  Jimmy doesn’t — but apparently, his lovely young daughter succeeds.  And World War II intervenes, with Jimmy and Vera’s son making the ultimate sacrifice at Iwo Jima.

The FBI Story is an entertaining movie, that’s not terribly tied to historical accuracy.

Editorial review of The FBI Story courtesy of Amazon.com

Approved by J. Edgar Hoover himself, this idealized telling of the FBI’s origins spans the years between Hoover’s appointment in the ’20s and the Red Scare of the mid-’50s. Beginning with an investigation that showcases the talent and resources available to the FBI, dedicated agent Chip Hardesty (Jimmy Stewart) tells new recruits how the agency was streamlined into a professional crime-fighting organization. Using his personal life story as a backdrop, Hardesty takes the new men (and the viewer) through cases involving gangsters, land grabs, and Communist spies. Vera Miles plays Hardesty’s dedicated wife, while Murray Hamilton helps out as gung-ho fellow agent Sam Crandall. Lots of pro-Hoover PR and propaganda, but it never gets in the way of the action or family drama. Interestingly, the history of the Hardesty family is almost as good as the history of the agency. –Mark Savary


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