Small-town newspaper co-owners and old army buddies Jim Austin (John Forsythe) and Don Carey find themselves up against a powerful gambling syndicate that’s controlling the politicians and law-enforcement officials in their town. Based on true-life events uncovered by the Senate Crime Investigation Committee, the film includes a guest appearance by the head of the committee, Senator Estes Kefauver.
One of the most successful directors of the 1960s, when he became an efficient maker of epic-length pictures, Robert Wise is one of Hollywood’s few popularly recognized filmmakers. He joined RKO in the 1930s as a cutter and eventually became one of the studio’s top editors, working in this capacity on classics such as The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), Citizen Kane (1941), and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). He became a director with help from producer Val Lewton, who assigned Wise to finish Curse of the Cat People (1944), a B-movie that had fallen behind schedule, and the resulting picture proved extremely haunting and enduring. Wise later directed The Body Snatcher (1945) for Lewton, but after the producer left RKO, he found himself locked into B-movies. His 1948 psychological Western Blood on The Moon, starring Robert Mitchum, and the acclaimed boxing drama The Set-Up (1949) were the only two important pictures that Wise got to do during his last four years at the studio. Wise… read more
This threatened to be propaganda and turned out to be beautifully crafted noir. Forsythe is not an emotional actor. I'm fine with that. Several other performances, especially from the female character actors, are outstanding. It's also beautifully shot. Wise knew his stuff and it shows. I was impressed.
Sponsored by the U.S. Senate (Senator Estes Kefauver gives us a lesson of civic spirit at the end of the film), the Captive City is a disappointment. First of all, John Forsythe seems to have one and only facial expression during the whole movie. One may appreciate a few sequences that allow Robert Wise (Orson Welles' editor for Citizen Kane) to present two actions in the same shot thanks to his perfect command of the depth of field but that's about all I have to say here. Already forgotten. Unfortunately.