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J. Edgar Hoover in The FBI Story

The 1959 movie, The FBI Story, was a project near and dear to the heart of J. Edgar Hoover, founding director of the FBI, who ran it with an iron fist from 1935 until his death in 1972.  Based upon the best selling authorized history of the FBI, The FBI Story, Hoover wanted the FBI to be portrayed in heroic mode, with no controversial spots.  A squad of special agents supervised the film and everyone associated with the film, no matter how humble, had to be vetted by the FBI. 

Hoover’s eye missed no detail.  When war hero James Stewart, the star of the film, proved unable to hit the targets on the FBI range, Hoover had an FBI marksman do the shooting.  A typical Hollywood touch was having FBI secretaries portrayed as big busted starlets.  Scenes featuring the secretaries ended up on the cutting room floor.  Hoover portrayed himself giving a speech at the founding of the new Federal Bureau of Investigation to his agents.

Lest I sound too cynical it isn’t a bad film from an entertainment standpoint.  Especially poignant is the scene when the Stewart character and his wife get the news that their only son has died fighting on Iwo Jima.  Their raw grief at the loss of their son comes across with heartbreaking effectiveness.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

One Comment

  1. As a child I was taught to respect the FBI. I seemed to recall an Efrem Zimbalist series that dramatized FBI cases. My parents knew some agents. Now that the FBI seemingly has been politicized I wonder how the recruiting is going?

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