Carbine Williams (1952)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Prison Film  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

On the surface, a film about the man who created the M-1 carbine rifle doesn't sound too promising, but Carbine Williams turns out to be a good little picture. Carbine's story has a lot of natural drama in it, dealing as it does with a poor rural man, murder, and a long prison sentence. But what makes the story stand out a bit is the character of Carbine, a man who is in his own way exceedingly honest, very proud, conflicted, brooding and filled with deep feelings toward his wife. It's a strong role, and it turns out to be a perfect vehicle for Jimmy Stewart. By 1952, Jimmy Stewart was well into the "recreation" of Jimmy Stewart. No longer someone who was interested in simple "good guy" roles that took advantage of only one aspect of his talent, he had been playing more complicated roles in which a layer of darkness was always underneath the surface. He has a field day with Carbine, pumping real blood into this character and making him live and breathe as no other actor could have done. There's also a strong performance from Wendell Corey as his respectful nemesis, as well as a subtler but equally important turn from wife Jean Hagen. Throw in Richard Thorpe's surprisingly effective direction and the result is an intriguing and affecting film.