…Warner Brothers is finally releasing The Phenix City Story as part of a film noir box set on July 13. An expose of a real-life situation—the postwar takeover of an Alabama burg by a cracker-barrel mafia—it’s no Great Film but a great American movie . It’s memorable for a lot of little things, such as its clued-in use of real Phenix City locals for its extras (it’s a movie about the South that actually looks like the South); it’s also got a bad guy who acts like a human water moccasin and an act of violence that’ll draw an authentic “Holy shit” out of you. B-meister Phil Karlson directed it; Jonathan Rosenbaum has an extended piece about it in his terrific Essential Cinema.
Now, here’s hoping that Columbia Tristar gets some stones and issues Karlson’s Gunman’s Walk, a Western that attacks racism, Manifest Destiny, and the American macho mindset in terms so thematically consonant with Fort Apache and The Searchers that it could serve as the third part of an unofficial trilogy with them. (The similarities are no coincidence: the scripts for all three movies came from the hand of one man, Frank S. Nugent.)