The Captive City (1952 film)

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The Captive City
Poster of the movie The Captive City.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Wise
Produced by Theron Warth
Screenplay by Alvin M. Josephy
Karl Kamb
Story by Alvin M. Josephy
Starring John Forsythe
Joan Camden
Music by Jerome Moross
Cinematography Lee Garmes
Edited by Robert Swink
Aspen Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • March 26, 1952 (1952-03-26) (New York City)
  • April 11, 1952 (1952-04-11) (United States)
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Captive City is a 1952 film noir crime film directed by Robert Wise.[1] The screenplay is based on real life experiences of Time magazine reporter Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., who co-wrote the script.[2]


As newspaper editor Jim Austin prepares his testimony before the Committee, the story flashes back to the events which led to his testifying.

Austin is driven to investigate corruption after Clyde Nelson, a local private detective, working on an apparently harmless divorce case, discovers the existence of a big-time gambling syndicate operating with the consent of the city fathers, the local police, and the respectable elements of the community. Nelson is killed in a hit-and-run which appears to be an accident. Austin thinks otherwise because he is harassed by police when he looks into the PI's death.



The screenplay of The Captive City was inspired by the Kefauver Committee's hearings.[3] The television broadcast of the hearings attracted huge public interest and educated a broad audience about the issues of municipal corruption and organized crime. The tremendous success of the broadcast led to the production of a whole cycle of "exposé" crime films dealing with the dismantling of complex criminal organizations by law enforcement.[4][5] The Captive City had the blessing of senator Kefauver himself: Robert Wise took a print of the film to Washington D. C. to show to senator Kefauver, who not only endorsed it but even appears in the prologue and epilogue, cautioning audiences about the evils of organized crime.[6] Other notable examples of exposé films include Hoodlum Empire (1952) and The Turning Point (1952).


  1. ^ The Captive City on IMDb.
  2. ^ The Captive City at AllMovie
  3. ^ Spicer, Andrew (2010). Historical Dictionary of Film Noir. Scarecrow Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-8108-7378-0. 
  4. ^ Spicer, Andrew (2010). Historical Dictionary of Film Noir. Scarecrow Press. pp. 47–48. ISBN 978-0-8108-7378-0. 
  5. ^ Dickos, Andrew (2002). Street with No Name: A History of the Classic American Film Noir. The University Press of Kentucky. pp. 203–206. ISBN 978-0813122434. 
  6. ^ "The Captive City film article". at Retrieved 2014-08-22. 

External links[edit]