“Disgrace came out of the dark… then a girl’s muffled scream—and the hooded terror of a ‘friendly’ little town is unmasked in a story as startling as the screen has dared be!”
A wisecracking fashion model named Marsha (Ginger Rogers) visits her sister (Doris Day) in the small southern town of Rockpoint, soon to discover that the town is under the thumb of the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan terrorizes the townsfolk by night with no apparent motivation aside from general wickedness (all of the residents of Rockpoint are white, effectively bleaching the issue of race from the film). Hardboiled DA Burt Rainey (Reagan) dreams of bringing the Klan to justice, but the townsfolk are too scared to testify against the hoodlums. When Marsha witnesses a Klansman committing a murder, Rainey hopes he has finally found a dame tough enough to take down the KKK.
Storm Warning by Stuart Heisler (USA, 1951, 93 min.).
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This bizarrely entertaining thriller was produced at the height of the Hollywood Blacklist, an initiative to find and punish communists in the film industry. Reagan was a passionate supporter of the blacklist; in fact, his obsession with sniffing out industry professionals with socialist leanings (he was secretly employed by the FBI for this purpose) seems to have been a major catalyst in his eventual transition from democratic to republican allegiance. Like the Klansmen in the film, Hollywood communists were seen as hiding in plain sight, quietly undermining established structures of American law. Marsha’s decision to expose her sister’s husband for being a Klansman and a murderer reflects the ideology of the time: a good American had to be willing to inform on her friends and family for the greater good of her country.