When I first saw the title for "The Phenix City Story," I thought it was a typo. Turns out the city in question is Phenix Alabama. Please no smarmy thoughts on the ability to spell in the South, I'm sure there is a quite colorful history to the name. At any rate, this film is supposedly based on a true story. Now I could probably google it and get to the bottom of whether it's based on the truth or not, but I don't see the point to that. I like the mystery of whether it is real or bullshit. I think personally we spend too much time in debunk mode. Let there be a santa and let the story of Phenix City be true.
In the story Phenix City is a small town next to a larger town and more importantly an army base. For nearly a century the machine in Phenix City has been devoted to shaving off any spare cash of the army lads who come over to 14th street. Fixed gambling, and loose girls, and if you don't like it, then to the river with you chump. Our heroes are an old lawyer who just wants to be left alone, and his son who just came back from the war and is used to fighting evil. Maybe too used to it, as he seems eager to embrace the fight than the peace with his wife.
Truly a movie of small town evil writ large. The machine fights against our heroes tooth and nail, even to the point of dumping a dead black girl on their lawn. This leads to the films two best /worst lines. From the police: "Some one dumped a dead N--------- girl on their lawn, go look into it." and later on trial the killer said "I like N-------- as long as they are dead." Truly a snapshot of an ugly time in an ugly place.
"Dial 1119" is a bit more conventional but still interesting. An escape mental patient takes a bar hostage as his shrink and the cop that originally nabbed him argue over him and the larger social issues. Forget about the shrink and cop as that is all "Law & Order" bs, I love the barflies being held hostage. From the floosie, to the wormy guy trying to hit on the brainy and chaste coworker it is a lovely character piece and each actor shines their flaws till they gleam. I love the bartender "Chuckles," and was really sorry to see him get wasted. A nice bit of film noir that shouldn't be lost.