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Carbine Williams

Carbine Williams(1952)

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The film's working titles were The Story of David Marshall Williams and Man with a Record. The film's opening title card reads: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents James Stewart as Carbine Williams." A written prologue reads: "The March, 1951 issue of Reader's Digest published an article in its series, "The Most Unforgettable Character I've Met." That character is David Marshall Williams-- and this is his story as he lived it." Although not credited onscreen, Capt. H. P. Peoples was the author of the Reader's Digest article. The film concludes with the following written acknowledgment: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer gratefully acknowledges the cooperation of the North Carolina prison authorities and wishes to state that the penal system existing in North Carolina today has been improved immeasurably over conditions depicted in the picture." According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Janet Leigh was initially set to co-star in the film as "Maggie Williams" and Miklos Rozsa was to do the film's score. A Hollywood Reporter news item includes Philo Herrick in the cast, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       As in the film, David Marshall Williams (1900-1975) invented a new type of rifle mechanism which became the centerpiece of a lightweight rifle, called the "Carbine." The rifle was used extensively by the United States Army during World War II, and variations of his designs continue to be used by the Army to the present day. The original rifle, and others that followed it, utilized a short-stroke piston. Williams' invention was developed while he was serving a thirty-year prison sentence for murder in the Caledonia maximum security farm in North Carolina. According to modern sources, after the film had its premiere in Fayetteville, friends and neighbors gave Williams a new nickname, "Carbine." Modern sources also state that many supporters maintained that Williams was not responsible for the death of Deputy Al Pate. Wendell Corey and Jean Hagen recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre presentation of Carbine Williams, with Ronald Reagan in the title role, on March 22, 1954.