The True Story of Lynn Stuart


1h 18m 1958
The True Story of Lynn Stuart

Brief Synopsis

A concerned housewife goes undercover for the police to bust a drug ring.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Grasshopper, The Other Life of Lynn Stuart
Genre
Drama
Crime
Release Date
Mar 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Yof Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on newspaper articles by Pat Michaels.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

After her nephew is killed in a car accident while in a drug induced state, housewife Phyllis Carter attends the coroner's inquest, where she upbraids Lt. Jim Hagan of the Santa Ana sheriff's department for failing to crack down on drugs. Following the inquest, Phyllis goes to the sheriff's department and volunteers to become an undercover agent. Hagan is dismissive of her offer until he learns that his informant in Tijuana, Mexico has been killed. With the informant's death, the surveillance of drug smuggler Willie Down, who the police had hoped would lead them to the head of the ring, hits a dead end. Now desperate, Hagan asks Phyllis to go undercover and win Willie's confidence. After Hagan assures Phyllis' husband Ralph and son Jimmie that a police escort will be watching her at all times, Ralph agrees to let her accept the job on the condition that she will quit when he tells her to. A new identity is fabricated for Phyllis┬┐that of Lynn Stuart, a former gun moll who is on parole after serving time in a West Virginia penitentiary. Posing as Lynn, Phyllis is hired as a waitress at a drive-in frequented by the smugglers. One night, Willie comes to the drive-in and starts to flirt with Phyllis. After he returns the next evening, two uniformed police officers come to harass "Lynn" about her parole, thus convincing Willie that she can be trusted. Willie invites Phyllis to go bowling, and at the alley, three plainclothes police officers appear and insist on frisking Willie. After Willie surreptitiously slips a packet of drugs into Phyllis' pocket, the woman officer in the group decides to search her. Willie is surprised when the officer fails to find the drugs, and after the police leave, Phyllis shows him the bowling ball in which she stuffed the package. Impressed by Phyllis' dexterity, Willie recruits her into the smuggling ring and boasts that he will run it one day. Willie then explains the operation to Phyllis and shows her the ring's drop-off points. Later, Phyllis pinpoints the locations for the police so that they can set traps for the buyers. When Jimmie begins having nightmares about his mother's continual absences, Ralph insists that she stop and Phyllis promises to quit the next night. The following day, Willie goes to a used car lot that is a front for "Doc," one of the smugglers. There, the two plot to hijack a shipment of drugs after it leaves Tijuana. Concerned about Willie's attraction to "Lynn", Doc calls Sue, a member of the gang who served time with her and has never met Phyllis. After Sue attests to "Lynn's" credentials, Doc gives Willie his blessing. Doc has amassed a fleet of 1949 Mercurys to transport the contraband, and Willie drives off in one of them. On his way to Tijuana, Willie surprises Phyllis at the drive-in and insists that she join him. Meanwhile, unknown to Phyllis, Jimmie has contracted a serious case of pneumonia and the police are desperately trying to notify her. Once Willie and Phyllis cross the Mexican border, Fred, the man who informed Doc about the shipment, meets them and demands a bigger cut of the deal. After driving onto a deserted stretch of road, Willie leaves Phyllis with the car and tells her to pretend that she has engine trouble when the truck transporting the drug shipment appears. As the truckers climb down to help her, Willie shoots them and then kills Fred. Willie then throws the hysterical Phyllis into the car and drives off, informing her that Sue, her old prison roommate, will meet them shortly. After passing through customs at the border, Willie stops at a gas station and Phyllis asks to use the restroom. There, Phyllis uses her lipstick to pen a plea for help on a paper towel, but the towel falls to the ground and is overlooked by the attendant. At a Garden Grove motel, Willie pulls into a parking lot filled with 1949 Mercurys and then takes Phyllis to the rendezvous with Doc and the rest of the gang. When Phyllis hears a police announcement broadcast over the radio asking Phyllis Carter to hurry home to her sick son, she becomes overwrought, prompting Doc to tell Willie to "get rid" of her. Leaving Willie and Phyllis behind in the motel room, the rest of the gang goes to the parking lot to meet Sue. When Sue pulls in, Hagan and his men spring from the shadows and arrest Doc and the others. Hearing strange noises, Willie steps outside the motel room and is wounded in a shootout with the police. To maintain Phyllis' cover, the officers arrest her, after which she is brought before the Grand Jury. After her testimony is completed, Phyllis is reunited with the Ralph and the now-recovered Jimmie. For Phyllis' protection, the family is then relocated to start a new life.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Grasshopper, The Other Life of Lynn Stuart
Genre
Drama
Crime
Release Date
Mar 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Yof Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on newspaper articles by Pat Michaels.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Articles

The True Story of Lynn Stuart


In the fast-moving The True Story of Lynn Stuart (1958), Betsy Palmer plays Phyllis Carter, a Santa Ana, Calif., housewife who volunteers to go undercover for her local police department's narcotics division. Her nephew has been killed in a car crash while under the influence of drugs, and now she wants to infiltrate a drug ring in order to help expose and bring it down. The police chief is reluctant at first, but out of desperation he soon accepts. The police have Carter pretend to be Lynn Stuart, a real female crook with a federal prison record. Soon enough, Stuart catches the eye of hoodlum Jack Lord and enters his criminal gang as his "girlfriend." This all causes great strain on her family: her husband becomes troubled by the fact that she must pretend to have a new romantic involvement, and their son develops nightmares.

The story was drawn by screenwriter John Kneubuhl from a series of real newspaper articles, and the picture has a semidocumentary flavor. Fine night photography by ace cameraman Burnett Guffey adds tremendously to the effect. Guffey at the time was president of the American Society of Cinematographers. He had already won an Oscar® for From Here to Eternity (1953) and would win again for Bonnie and Clyde (1967). He was nominated three further times.

Betsy Palmer was very familiar to moviegoers in 1958 from numerous television appearances. She had also already acted in a few features, including the fine western The Tin Star (1957). Decades later she gained renewed fame when she played Pamela Voorhees in Friday the 13th (1980) and a sequel. As of 2010 she is still a working actress.

The True Story of Lynn Stuart was the final film from director Lewis Seiler, who directed nearly 100 movies in a career that began in 1923. The picture was produced by Bryan Foy, one of the "Seven Little Foys" who had started in vaudeville decades earlier. At this point he was a veteran producer and director with a long industry legacy. Most of his film work had involved producing hundreds of B films, but he also gained fame by directing the first 100% talking feature for Warner Brothers, Lights of New York (1928), and by producing the landmark 3-D horror film House of Wax (1953).

Look for an uncredited Gavin MacLeod -- the future "Capt. Stubing" on TV's The Love Boat -- in his film debut, in the role of "Turk."

Producer: Bryan Foy
Director: Lewis Seiler
Screenplay: John H. Kneubuhl (adaptation and screenplay); Pat Michaels (newspaper articles)
Cinematography: Burnett Guffey
Art Direction: Ross Bellah
Music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Film Editing: Saul A. Goodkind
Cast: Betsy Palmer (Phyllis Carter aka Lynn Stuart), Jack Lord (Willie Down), Barry Atwater (Lt. Jim Hagan), Lionel Ames (Salesman), John Anderson (Doc), Jimmy Bates (pin boy).
BW-78m.

by Jeremy Arnold
The True Story Of Lynn Stuart

The True Story of Lynn Stuart

In the fast-moving The True Story of Lynn Stuart (1958), Betsy Palmer plays Phyllis Carter, a Santa Ana, Calif., housewife who volunteers to go undercover for her local police department's narcotics division. Her nephew has been killed in a car crash while under the influence of drugs, and now she wants to infiltrate a drug ring in order to help expose and bring it down. The police chief is reluctant at first, but out of desperation he soon accepts. The police have Carter pretend to be Lynn Stuart, a real female crook with a federal prison record. Soon enough, Stuart catches the eye of hoodlum Jack Lord and enters his criminal gang as his "girlfriend." This all causes great strain on her family: her husband becomes troubled by the fact that she must pretend to have a new romantic involvement, and their son develops nightmares. The story was drawn by screenwriter John Kneubuhl from a series of real newspaper articles, and the picture has a semidocumentary flavor. Fine night photography by ace cameraman Burnett Guffey adds tremendously to the effect. Guffey at the time was president of the American Society of Cinematographers. He had already won an Oscar® for From Here to Eternity (1953) and would win again for Bonnie and Clyde (1967). He was nominated three further times. Betsy Palmer was very familiar to moviegoers in 1958 from numerous television appearances. She had also already acted in a few features, including the fine western The Tin Star (1957). Decades later she gained renewed fame when she played Pamela Voorhees in Friday the 13th (1980) and a sequel. As of 2010 she is still a working actress. The True Story of Lynn Stuart was the final film from director Lewis Seiler, who directed nearly 100 movies in a career that began in 1923. The picture was produced by Bryan Foy, one of the "Seven Little Foys" who had started in vaudeville decades earlier. At this point he was a veteran producer and director with a long industry legacy. Most of his film work had involved producing hundreds of B films, but he also gained fame by directing the first 100% talking feature for Warner Brothers, Lights of New York (1928), and by producing the landmark 3-D horror film House of Wax (1953). Look for an uncredited Gavin MacLeod -- the future "Capt. Stubing" on TV's The Love Boat -- in his film debut, in the role of "Turk." Producer: Bryan Foy Director: Lewis Seiler Screenplay: John H. Kneubuhl (adaptation and screenplay); Pat Michaels (newspaper articles) Cinematography: Burnett Guffey Art Direction: Ross Bellah Music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff Film Editing: Saul A. Goodkind Cast: Betsy Palmer (Phyllis Carter aka Lynn Stuart), Jack Lord (Willie Down), Barry Atwater (Lt. Jim Hagan), Lionel Ames (Salesman), John Anderson (Doc), Jimmy Bates (pin boy). BW-78m. by Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were The Other Life of Lynn Stuart and The Grasshopper. Before the opening credits roll, Edmund G. Brown, then the Attorney General of California, introduces himself and explains that the story "you are about to see" is true. Onscreen credits note that the film was based on newspaper articles written by Santa Ana reporter Pat Michaels. The True Story of Lynn Stuart marked the screen debut of Gavin MacLeod.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1957

Released in United States 1957