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The Well (1951 film): Wikis


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The Well
Directed by Leo C. Popkin
Russell Rouse
Produced by Clarence Greene
Written by Russell Rouse
Clarence Greene
Starring Richard Rober
Gwendolyn Laster
Maidie Norman
Editing by Chester Schaeffer
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) 1951
Running time 86 min.
Country United States
Language English

The Well is a 1951 American film noir which tackled the issue of racial tensions and collective behavior. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing.



The film centers around a five-year-old black girl, Carolyn, who is believed to be kidnapped, though she had actually fallen down a well.

Carolyn's disappearance causes anger and confusion in the community. A white stranger, Claude Packard, is blamed for the "crime." Before Carolyn is found and Claude captured, the man is tried and convicted by the townspeople.


This movie was filmed on location in Marysville and Yuba City, California in 1950, and given the accents, it appears that the intention was not to portray a town in the South, but any small American town. The students in the class room scenes were kids from the Marysville Elementary School.

Historical significance

The film promotes a political agenda of moderation and consensus typical of 1950s movies.[weasel words] In exploring the racial tensions in a small town, the police force and its sheriff are portrayed as the film's moral center trying to solve the case of a child's disappearance and stop race hatred taking hold. Racial intolerance is the enemy in this film, even at one point, stopping the child being saved as the police are diverted from the search into stemming the tide of race hate. As tensions rise, one of the city's black leaders even gives a moving monologue on what a race riot means - an insane hysterical outburst of hate.

A product of the era between World War Two and the rise of the modern civil rights movement, the film's message appears to be that race is an issue best suppressed to maintain peace and tranquility. At the start of the film the town's racial communities are both content (no black people in the town are portrayed as protestors or activists).


  • Richard Rober as Sheriff Kellogg
  • Gwendolyn Laster as Carolyn Crawford
  • Maidie Norman as Martha Crawford
  • Harry Morgan as Claude Packard
  • Christine Larson as Casey
  • George Hamilton as Grandpa Peabody
  • Ernest Anderson as Ralph Crawford
  • Dick Simmons as Deputy Mickey McClure

See also

External links



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