Watch Storm Center
- 1 hr 25 min
Storm Center is a 1956 American drama film directed by Daniel Taradash and starring Bette Davis, Brian Keith, and Kim Hunter. The movie deals with a sensitive subject matter regarding the freedom of speech and its limits, censorship, and the impact it has on individuals and the community as a whole. Bette Davis plays the role of Alicia Hull, a librarian in a small town called Salem, who refuses to remove a book titled "The Communist Dream" from the library shelves after a group of concerned citizens led by local newspaper editor Tom Slater (Brian Keith). The townspeople and city council soon follow Tom's lead, resulting in a witch hunt to rid the library of all permitted materials deemed "subversive" by the conservative establishment.
The story is set in the backdrop of the Cold War-era, where anxieties about the spread of communism were at an all-time high. The public's fear of communist propaganda infiltrating the country led to the blacklisting of artists, intellectuals, and public officials, destroying lives and reputations in its wake. Storm Center captures the paranoia and hysteria of the times, as arbitrary allegations are enough to condemn people guilty until proven innocent.
The movie's pace is unhurried, with Bette Davis's restrained performance guiding the audience through the story's moral and ethical intricacies. Davis delivers a powerful monologue to the city council, underlining the importance of freedom of speech in a democratic society. Her character's unwavering stance against censorship speaks to the importance of intellectual freedom and its role in society. She encapsulates the values embroiled in the American Constitution, which are protected by First Amendment's protection of free speech.
Kim Hunter plays the character of Martha Lockridge, an old friend of Alicia's who is also a part of the town council. The film effectively uses Martha's character arc to examine the role of peer pressure in censorship's devastating effects. At first, Martha is Alicia's ally and the only council member who's against the ban. However, when confronted by her close friend's conservative neighbors, Martha swiftly changes her mind and presses for the book's removal from the shelves. This betrayal highlights the emotional anxiety experienced by individuals in the face of public opinion.
Storm Center is a thought-provoking movie that tackles constitutional principles such as the right to free speech and due process. It portrays in a grim light the dangers of limiting access to information and opinions. Through Alicia's story, the movie lays bare the vulnerability of society to censorship and the real-world consequences when institutions attempt to police the expression of ideas.
Brian Keith's Tom Slater acts as the movie's antagonist, spearheading the fight against the book and, by extension, Alicia's job. Through his character, Storm Center provides a clear illustration of how the forces of censorship manifest in our lives and the lengths people will go to maintain what they deem as society's moral compass.
The film captures the tension between freedom of expression and social responsibility. At its core, the movie asks the question of whether censorship is appropriate when opinions are not tailored to a particular ideology. It brings out the moral burden of incumbency, which local councils bear in allowing citizens to have access to valuable information.
In conclusion, Storm Center is a slow but ultimately rewarding film. The movie's themes are as relevant in today's society as they were back in 1956. The dangers of censorship and the suppression of ideas remain ever-present in society, and it is essential to reiterate these values to ensure that freedom prevails. With excellent performances from Bette Davis, Brian Keith, and Kim Hunter, Storm Center is both a formidable work of cinema and a cautionary tale.
Storm Center is a 1956 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 25 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.6.