Storm Warning (1951) President Reagan In Klan Film With Ginger Rogers And Doris Day!… Saaay Whaaat!

Storm Warning (1951) Ginger Rogers Ronald Reagan Doris Day Steve Cochran movie poster

I was intrigued with Storm Warning not only by it’s daunting subject matter but also alarmed to see three actors included that I just couldn’t fathom in a movie based around the Ku Klux Klan. Stamped on the poster are the names of three giant stars. The future President Of The United States, Ronald Reagan and the all singing, all dancing ladies, Ginger Rogers and butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, Doris Day. Seriously WTF?

Tagline – A “friendly” little town is unmasked in a story as startling as the screen has dared to be!

Storm Warning (1951) Ronald Reagan Burt Rainey

Thankfully, and of course he would be the hero, big Ronald is playing district attorney Burt Rainey. One of only a handful of decent folk in the town of Rock Point. A man of strong morals and honour. A man determined to bring the klan to justice. The Klan was outta of control. Dishing out its own form of justice to anyone standing in the way of their twisted ideology.  With the arrival of a travelling dress model Marsha Mitchell (Ginger Rogers), Burt Rainey may have found a way to bring them down?

Tagline – Behind this burning cross… Behind the loopholes in the law… Behind their cowardly hoods… They hide a thousand vicious crimes!

You see Marsha steps off a bus at Rock Point to visit her sister Lucy Rice (Doris Day). Lucy had recently married Hank Rice (Steve Cochran) and on passing the town decided to pop into say hello. Instantly the town started to act strange. People hurried about, talking funny, whispering, shutting shops and setting off for home early. With no taxis available she walks the quiet dark streets to her sisters house. With the lights of the town police station across the street she begins to feel safe. That is until the screams and shouts of a wild crowd cuts through the dead of night.

Storm Warning (1951) Ginger Rogers witness the kkk ku klux klan jail house

It’s then that the terrifying sight of white hooded thugs drag an unseen person from the police station to sounds of cheering and hollering. Confusion and anarchy erupt before the sharp clap of gunshots. The victim is shot dead in the frenzy. Baffled by the sudden death before his lynching, two Klan members remove their hoods! Martha hidden in the shadows sees both faces clearly. She steps back clinging to the wall. Stunned and shocked she arrives at Lucy’s. Just before her new brother-in-law Hank walks through the door. A face she has seen before!

Storm Warning (1951) Ginger Rogers Doris Day Steve Cochran

With the brazen and unforgiven Imperial Wizard of the Klan Charlie Barr (Hugh Sanders) strutting around confident nothing and no one can touch him. It’s up to Burt Rainey to try and bring charges against him or any other member of this hateful group. With investigative work leading to Martha’s arrival at the same time of the hoods killing of the journalist. Just maybe he can convince her to help prosecute these evil men. Martha on the other hand has problems of her own. Will justice be served?

Storm Warning (1951) Hugh SandersStorm Warning (1951) Ginger Rogers Ronald Reagan court room

Burt Rainey – “Just wearing that hood doesn’t change your voice, Walker. Am I supposed to be afraid of you because your face is covered up? It’ll take more than these sheets you’re wearing to hide the fact that you’re mean, frightened little people, or you wouldn’t be here, desecrating the cross.”

What I noticed during the Storm Warning!

Obviously anything with the Ku Klux Klan attached was gonna be controversial but strangely two other events seem to over shadow those hateful hooded blockheads.

  • The thing that really shines out is the fact they steer completely clear of showing the Klan against ethnic minorities. None of the crimes, attacks or otherwise are against people of colour. Even with the addition of black townsfolk shown throughout the background scenes, racism is never really touched on. All the Klan’s hateful prejudices are against reporters and journalists. It’s strange to see.
  • Also included is a shockingly tough scene within a film from this era. It’s a scene similar in nature to Stanley Kowalski’s (Marlon Brando) attack on his sister-in-law Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) in A Streetcar Named Desire. Both films incidentally were released in 1951 and where Streetcars brutal scene is left to the imagination, Storm Warning attack is overwhelmingly in your face.

Storm Warning (1951) news reporter court case

  • There’s also a really tense and brilliant played out scene involving a news anchor reporter. As he desperately tries to report on the ensuing court case as the locals of the town start to swarm around him. Stepping on his cables, whispering, intimating and staring. He starts to fear for his safety as he pursues on with his job. It’s a clever and effectively well played out scene and portrays a real paranoia to the setting.

What did I think of film?

It was fascinating to watch Ronald Reagan act. Just watching his mannerisms and listening to that voice that’s was so iconic as the President throughout the 80’s. Would you believe that out of all the films he’s made I’ve only seen him in 1964s The Killers. Doris Day doesn’t have much to do but look shocked most of the time but Steve Cochran eats up every scene. Sometimes a little hammy as he goes through a whole range of face pulling as he’s called stupid most of the time. But he’s truly menacing when it’s needed.

Storm Warning (1951) Ginger Rogers Steve Cochran

Gingers Rogers is a revelation to me as I’d only just come off the back of her super cute performance in Gold Diggers of 1933. Here in Storm Warning she takes no shit whats so ever. She is one tough gal who stands chin to chin with anyone but she’s also loyal to her sister to a fault. Ginger’s performance is fantastic.

Storm Warning (1951) Ginger Rogers witness the kkk ku klux klan woods burning cross

I went in thinking it was going to be a controversial novelty piece. I was wrong, it’s actually really very good. It’s got enough paranoia and small town fear within it’s melodrama. Even at times feeling like you’re watching an episode of The Twilight Zone or similar. It has a brooding menacing darkness to it. The drama is high and every corner throughout the town feels untrustworthy or dangerous. What with those few unnerving scenes I mention above you are in no doubt that this is a drama against good vs evil. I’d really recommend it. Let me know if you’ve seen it, I’d like to hear what you think of it.

Thanks for dropping in to see what’s been on the hairy movie screen. Keeping digging for movies … Mikey Wolf

PS Feel free to recommend any good Ronnie films.

18 thoughts on “Storm Warning (1951) President Reagan In Klan Film With Ginger Rogers And Doris Day!… Saaay Whaaat!

  1. Love Ronnie in three films: Santa Fe Trail, Kings Row and Knute Rockne: All American.

    Santa Fe Trail is a particularly interesting western. Ronnie plays George Armstrong Custer and the film makes the abolitionists the bad guys!!!! It’s weird and fascinating.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Storm Warning is flawed but interesting. It’s a curious movie with an interesting cast. BTW, Joan Crawford was supposed to play Rogers’s role, but she didn’t think could play Doris Day’s sister.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s good and made an impression on me in my distant youth. Santa Fe Trail is fine. Ronny made another film with E. Flynn: Desperate Journey with Alan Hale, Arthur Kennedy and Raymond Massey. R. Walsh did that. That one I love. Stuart Heisler made a few keepers to be sure. Blue Skies with Crosby and Astaire, The Star with B. Davis. Also lots of TV shows.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Charles thanks for you great comment. Desperate Journey sounds like a must. It’s getting a few thumbs up here. I do like a good WW2 drama so I will be searching that title for sure. Been slowly working my way through R. Walsh work too so it will good to tick another off. Also working my way through Bette Davis’s work and hadn’t even heard of The Star before. That sounds great and with Sterling Hayden too. Really appreciate the recommendations. Thank you.


  4. Long time since I’ve seen this one and recalled very little till reading your update. Doris out of place, God bless her. I was a big fan. As to Rompin’ Ronnie, I think he’s a better actor then he’s given credit for. Just reviewed one today! Kind of liked a couple comedies he did, John Loves Mary and She’s Working Her Way Thru College (but that has Virginia Mayo so didn’t really notice Ronnie haha ) Desperate Journey with Errol Flynn also a nice piece of WW2 propaganda.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha now I get it, Virginia Mayo name is ‘Hot Garters Gertie’ no wonder Ronnie didn’t get a look in! 🙂

      I like someones first line review on IMDB for Desperate Journey.
      “Propaganda? Yes. Some preposterous scenes? Yes. Entertaining? Very. Think “Hogan’s Heroes”, with a Keystone Kops chase scene.”
      Hehe added to the list, sounds great.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha yes Bedtime for Bonzo. I’ve never seen it but it’s the chimp one. LOL I’ve seen clips of it many times. I’m gonna have to watch it some time. Thanks for the recommendations too. I’ll go investigate.


  5. I had to go check the Monolith and see if this one was part of either my Reagan or Day TCM collections…and yes, it’s in the Reagan set! I never knew that this film centered on that type of subject matter…and you’re right, it’s strange to realize that Ginger Rogers and Doris Day are in a KKK film!

    As for recommendations, I agree with Kings Row (a good, well-played drama) and Desperate Journey (a lot of fun!). As for Bette, one of my favorite roles of hers was in ‘The Man Who Came to Dinner’…but you might have to wait ’til Christmastime to watch that one!


    • Oh I don’t know of “The Man Who Came to Dinner” at all but it’s flown on the to the watch list. I spy Ann Sheridan too. Excellent. Oh I see it has a xmas theme. Sounds like a good one to for the festive season.
      I’m hoping to watch Ronnie in Desperate Journey soon. It’s got lots of nods by you friendly folk. Thanks as always.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.