The small-town melodrama, “Storm Warning,” pairs vet actress Ginger Rogers with young actress Doris Day, soon to become a major star.
Rogers plays Marsha Mitchell, a model who decided to visit her younger, newlywed sister Lucy Rice (Doris Day), who lives with her husband in a small town. The town is unnamed, which means the story could be set anywhere.
Inadvertently, Marsha becomes a witness to the beating and the shooting of a man at the hands of the KKK.
To her horror, Marsha soon discovers that the whole town is controlled by a vigilante group, and that her loutish brother-in-law Hank (Steve Cochran) is, unbeknowst to her sister, one of the group’s leading members.
Ronald Reagan, before embarking on a spectacular political career, plays Rainey, the District Attorney, who ultimately breaks the stranglehold of the hooded terrorists.
Thematically, some scenes in the film, with the triangle of two sisters torn by their differing feelings and conflicting reactions to a bruttish man recall Kazan’s far superior “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
As written by Richard Brooks and Daniel Fuchs , “Storm Warning” begins extermely well, detailing tensions within the young marriage, and in the town as a whole, before deteriorating into a simplistic agit-prop piece, including a court room trial. The scene in which, the DA walks into one of the KKK meetings and calmly identifies each one of them by name, is particularly disappointing.
The movie is functionally (but no more) directed by Sturat Hisler, whp imbues the story with elements of film noir; a good deal of the yarn is set at night. I can only imagine what a director like Jospeh Losey could have done with similar material.
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 93 Minutes.
Directed by Stuart Heisler
Screenplay by Richard Brooks, Daniel Fuchs
Released: February 10, 1951.
On DVD: Feb 5, 2008
Ginger Rogers as Marsha Mitchell
Ronald Reagan as Burt Rainey
Doris Day as Lucy Rice
Steve Cochran as Hank Rice
Hugh Sanders as Charlie Barr
Lloyd Gough as Cliff Rummel