Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2016 June 08 • Wednesday

The True Story of Lynn Stuart (1958) is an interesting and unusual movie.

Phyllis Carter is the very picture of the perfect 1950s American housewife, with a loving family in a "nice" and "decent" community. When her sister's teenage son is killed fleeing police and turns out to have been a heroin addict, Carter can't go on with her life as she did before.

She accuses the police of failing to do their job only to be told that they don't have enough men to infiltrate the gangs and reveal who's at the top of the drug supply chain.

Carter can't help give them more men but she can give them more women. She volunteers to serve as an undercover narcotis agent.

When she gets home she tells her husband and he laughs in her face, after which Carter listens to some of the most patronizing and condescending lines in the history of movies.

"Well, what’s wrong with the idea?"

"Oh, nothing, honey, but what do you want to do, put the FBI and the Santa Ana police out of work? They need their jobs!"

"I can do as good a job as anybody."

"Sure you can. I bet they just jumped at the idea."

"Well, no, as a matter of fact, they turned me down. But they may change their minds."

"Well, if they do, you take the job. And don’t shirk your call to duty. You powder your pretty little nose, you give your girdle a good yank and you go after dem dirty rats, both guns a-blazin'."

The joke's on him, though, because after their only deep cover agent is brutally murdered by a drug dealer played by future Hawaii Five-0 star Jack Lord, the police take Carter up on her offer, supplying her with the alternate identity of Lynn Stuart, an ex-con.

The murder scene itself is shot in an attractively framed deep focus shot, as Jack Lord savagely knifes the informant to death.

When "Lynn Stuart" meets this man, she has no way of knowing how vicious and dangerous he is.

In addition to its unusual feminist storyline, which is somewhat diluted by stressing that Carter's first duty is to her husband and that she acts only with his permission, The True Story of Lynn Stuart is also surprisingly frank about violence, sex and drugs, showing both blood and needles, not something we're used to seeing in movies from the 1950s.

It's also not an unrealistic story about a superwoman. Carter/Stuart unexpectedly witnesses a triple homicide at close range, an event which shocks her into a breakdown. Meanwhile, her son is in the hospital with pneumonia and another ex-con woman who knows the real Lynn Stuart is on the verge of blowing her cover...

This is apparently based on a true story that, according to Wikipedia, is more hardcore than the movie version.