AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Three Brave Men
Alternate Title: The Chasanow Story
Director: Philip Dunne (Dir)
Release Date:   Jan 1957
Production Date:   early Sep--mid-Oct 1956; retakes 9 Nov 1956
Duration (in mins):   88-89
Duration (in reels):   9
Print this page
Display Movie Summary


Cast:   Ray Milland (Joe Di Marco)  
    Ernest Borgnine (Bernie Goldsmith)  
    Frank Lovejoy (Capt. Winfield)  
    Nina Foch (Lt. McCoy)  
    Dean Jagger (John W. Rogers)  
    Virginia Christine (Helen Goldsmith)  
    Edward Andrews (Mayor Henry Jensen)  
    Frank Faylen (Enos Warren)  
    Diane Jergens (Shirley Goldsmith)  
    Warren Berlinger (Harry Goldsmith)  
    Andrew Duggan (Pastor Browning)  
    Joseph Wiseman (Jim Barron)  
    James Westerfield (O'Reilly)  
    Richard Anderson (Lt. Horton)  
    Olive Blakeney (Victoria Scott)  
    Robert Burton (Dietz)  
    Jason Wingreen (Perry)  
    Ray Montgomery (Sanford)  
    Sandy Descher (Alice)  
    Patty Ann Gerrity (Ruthie)  
    Jonathan Hole (Gibbons)  
    Barbara Gould (Susie)  
    Fern Barry (Miss Howell)  
    Joseph McGuinn (Gaddis)  
    Samuel Colt (Funston)  
    Robert Haines (Stenographer)  
    Lee Roberts (Investigator)  
    John Pickard (Investigator)  
    Ken Scott (Investigator)  
    Helen Mayon (Mrs. Parks)  
    Selmer Jackson (Retired admiral)  
    Walter Reed (Pryor)  
    Voltaire Perkins (Admiral Mason)  
    John Close (Photographer)  
    Lee Graham (Photographer)  
    Leonard Graves (Flaxman)  
    Keith Vincent (East)  
    Tom Daly (Sherrod)  
    Gus Lax (Reporter)  
    Juanita Close (Bernie's secretary)  
    Edith Claire (Dietz's secretary)  
    Roy Glenn (Guard)  
    Harry Fleer (Keating)  
    Bill Hughes (Lt. Barnes)  
    Tom Dailey (Sherrod)  
    Carleton Young (Board chairman)  
    Joe Bailey (Friend)  
    Nico Minardos (Friend)  
    Walter Woolf King (Admiral Mason)  
    Gene O'Donnell (Washington correspondent)  
    Duane Cress    
    Wilson Wood    
    Lucille Vance    

Summary: In Washington, D.C., John W. Rogers, the Secretary of the Navy, weighs allegations that a long-time Naval Department employee is a member of the Communist Party. Swayed by a pattern of seemingly subversive behavior, Rogers decides to file charges suspending the employee. Soon after, at the Riverview Housing Cooperative outside Washington, Bernie Goldsmith, the employee in question, beams as his daughter Shirley is awarded the Outstanding Citizen's Prize for her essay on patriotism. That night, Perry, who also works at the Naval Department, tells Bernie that he is being investigated as a security risk because in his youth, he briefly joined the Communist Party. Shocked by Perry's naïveté, Bernie defends the government's actions. The next day, Bernie is summoned to his superior's office and summarily suspended. Shaken and humiliated, Bernie returns home and is comforted by his wife Helen. Determined to keep up appearances, Bernie attends a town meeting that night. As Bernie ascends the podium to speak, a man accuses him of being a Communist. The allegation rapidly spreads, and soon the Goldsmith family is receiving harassing phone calls, and Bernie's children, Shirley and Harry, are ostracized by their schoolmates. Concerned, Pastor Browning visits the family and urges them to stand up to their accusers. As Browning accompanies them on a walk through town, the Goldsmiths find that although they are snubbed by some, many people come forth to support them. When Mayor Henry Jensen suggests establishing a legal defense fund, they decide to hire attorney Joe Di Marco to represent Bernie. After Bernie fiercely declares his loyalty to the United States, Di Marco accepts the case for a nominal fee. On the day of Bernie's hearing, Di Marco pleads with Capt. Winfield, Lt. McCoy and the other members of the board to help maintain the good name of the Goldsmith family. He then calls Jensen to the stand, who testifies that those who impugned Bernie's patriotism were his political opponents in the housing cooperative. Jensen explains that Bernie alienated a number of people when, as secretary of the cooperative, he signed a letter notifying the members that they were being forced to buy rather than rent their property. After Lt. McCoy rattles Jensen during her cross-examination, Di Marco asserts that the investigators relied on the testimony of Bernie's enemies. Once the hearing is adjourned for the day, a disheartened Bernie is cheered when Enos Warren, one of his principle opponents in the housing battle, volunteers to testify on his behalf. The next day, Enos affirms that those who spoke to the investigators were bent on blackening Bernie's reputation. When Victoria Scott, the town clerk, voices her support of Bernie and declares that the investigators falsified her testimony against him, Di Marco rests his case. Soon after, a sympathetic McCoy states that the board is dismissing all charges against Bernie. Eagerly anticipating his return to work, Bernie hurries to the office but is refused admittance by the guard and informed that he has not been officially reinstated. Three months later, Bernie, still waiting for his reinstatement, is unable to find employment. To help support his family, Harry, who dreams of attending the Naval Academy, quits high school and takes a job as a janitor. One day, Bernie receives a letter from the government. Thinking that it is his reinstatement papers, Bernie is elated until he reads that he has been fired and that Rogers has decided to reverse the board's recommendation. Rallying behind Bernie, the town plans a press conference to publicize his plight. Influenced by public pressure, Rogers agrees to meet with Bernie and Di Marco. When Rogers refuses to divulge the sources of information against Bernie on the grounds that he is defending the country against Communism, Di Marco angrily accuses him of persecuting an innocent man. His conscience troubled, Rogers reopens the case and after re-interrogating the witnesses, discovers that the charges are groundless. After several of the witnesses recant their testimony and others are discredited, Rogers convenes a new hearing. At a press conference, Rogers publicly apologizes to Bernie, exonerates him of all charges and proclaims that Bernie is a loyal American citizen. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Philip Dunne (Dir)
  Hal Herman (Asst dir)
  Mike Salamunovich (2d asst dir)
Producer: Herbert B. Swope Jr. (Prod)
Writer: Philip Dunne (Wrt)
Photography: Charles G. Clarke (Dir of photog)
  Leon Shamroy (Dir of photog)
  Irving Rosenberg (Cam op)
  Lee Crawford (Asst cam)
Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler (Art dir)
  Mark-Lee Kirk (Art dir)
Film Editor: David Bretherton (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Walter M. Scott (Set dec)
  Chester Bayhi (Set dec)
  Paul Fox (Set dec)
Costumes: Charles LeMaire (Exec ward des)
  Adele Balkan (Cost des)
  Mickey Sherrard (Ward)
Music: Hans Salter (Mus supv)
Sound: Alfred Bruzlin (Sd)
  Harry M. Leonard (Sd)
Special Effects: Ray Kellogg (Spec photog eff)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup)
  Helen Turpin (Hair styles)
Production Misc: Abe Steinberg (Asst prog mgr)
  Doris Drought (Scr supv)
  Norman Stuart (Dial coach)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs:
Source Text: Based on articles by Anthony Lewis in the Washington Daily News (publication undetermined).
Authors: Anthony Lewis

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 17/1/1957 dd/mm/yyyy LP7615

Physical Properties: Sd: Westrex Recording System
  b&w:
  Widescreen/ratio: CinemaScope
  Lenses/Prints: lenses by Bausch & Lomb

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Cold War
 
Subjects (Major): Communism
  Courage
  False accusations
  Lawyers
  Patriotism
  Reputation
  Rumors
  Trials
 
Subjects (Minor): Civil service
  Clergy
  Dismissal (Employment)
  Family life
  Housing projects
  Jews
  Press conferences
  United States. Navy
  Washington (D.C.)

Note: The working title of this film was The Chasanow Story . The film opens with the following written prologue: "The story you are about to see is based on a series of Pulitzer Prize winning articles by Anthony Lewis. The characters and names of individuals are our own invention, but the story is basically true. It is a story of moral courage shown under great stress by three individuals--and by an institution. That institution, whose shining deeds on behalf of freedom are written indelibly on the pages of history, is the United States Navy." This prologue is followed by a montage of newspaper headlines and newreels dealing with the spread of Communism. Over these images, a voice-over narrator states that "in this atomic age, the Communist Conspiracy is a matter of grave concern to every American... the government is forced to take drastic steps to combat this conspiracy...early in 1953, a new security program was inaugurated, designed to eliminate all possible risks to the national government while fully protecting the rights of the individual...like all new programs, it had to be tested in action....This is the story of one of the earliest cases, a case which had a profound effect on the future administration of the program."
       According to a 1957 article in Time , Lewis' articles chronicled the travails of Abraham Chasanow, who in 1954, was falsely charged with disloyalty and discharged from the Navy Department after twenty years of faithful service. After several years of appeals, Chasanow's name was finally cleared. This scandal forced the Navy to re-evaluate its security procedures. Studio publicity in the AMPAS file on the film states that it was not specifically Chasanow's story, but was inspired by it, and was filmed with the full cooperation of the Navy Department. A point is made in the picture that Pastor Browning is substituting for the Goldsmiths' rabbi, who is in the hospital. Although HR news items place Monty O'Grady, William Hughes, Gary Spencer, Fred Fisher and Harry Baum in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Another HR news item lists Philip Terry in the cast, but he did not appear in the picture. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   12 Jan 1957.   
Daily Variety   9 Jan 57   p. 3.
Film Daily   9 Jan 57   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Sep 56   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Sep 56   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Sep 56   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Oct 56   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Oct 56   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Oct 56   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Oct 56   p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Nov 56   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Jan 57   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   12 Jan 57   p. 217.
New York Times   16 Mar 57   p. 13.
Time   11 Feb 1957.   
Variety   16 Jan 57   p. 6.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2014 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.