Big Jim McLain

Synopsis: U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee investigators Jim McLain and Mal Baxter attempt to break up a ring of Communist Party troublemakers in Hawaii (ignoring somewhat, as do their superiors in the Congress, that membership in the Communist Party was, at the time, legal in the U.S.)
Genre: Crime, Drama, History
Director(s): Edward Ludwig
90 min

"Yes, Dan'I Webster's dead,

or at least theY buried him.

"But everY time there's a thunderstorm

around Marshfield,

"theY saY You can hear his rolling voice

in the hollows of the skY.

"And theY saY that if You go to his grave

and speak loud and clear,

"'Dan'I! Dan'I Webster! '

"the ground'll begin to shiver

and the trees begin to shake.

"And after a while You'll hear

a deep voice saYing,


Neighbor, how stands the Union? '

"Then You better answer,

'The Union stands as she stood,

"'oak-bottomed and coppersheathed,

one and indivisible, '

"or he's liable to rear

right out of the ground. "

This is the hearing room

of the House of Representatives

Committee on Un-American Activities.

We, the citizens

of the United States of America,

owe these, our elected representatives,

a great debt.

Undaunted bY

the vicious campaign of slander

launched against them as a whole

and as individuals,

theY have staunchlY continued

their investigation

pursuing their stated beliefs

that anYone who continued

to be a Communist after 1945

is guiltY of high treason.

Are you now or have you ever been

a member of the Communist Party?

I stand on my constitutional rights

under the Fifth Amendment

and refuse to answer the question

on the grounds

that I might incriminate myself.

Permit me to ask you one further question.

In the event of armed hostility

between this government

and that of Soviet Russia,

would you, if called upon,

willingly bear arms

on behalf of the government

of the United States?

Same question, same answer.

Eleven months.

Eleven frustrating months

we rang doorbells

and shuffled through

a million feet of dull documents

and proved to anY intelligent person

that these people were Communists,

agents of the Kremlin,

and theY all walk out free.

MY fellow investigator, Mal Baxter.

He hates these people.

TheY had shot at him in Korea.

Witness excused.

The good Dr. Carter would go right back

to his well-paid chair as a full professor

of economics at the universitY,

to contaminate more kids.

I keep thinking that mug might be

delivering a course of lectures

to my kids one of these days.

The doctor, remember. You'll get ulcers.

That Barton.

"Political beliefs are sacred," he says.

He delivered 1,600 microfilms from

the laboratory to a Comintern courier.

Is that political beliefs?

I just work here.

That's wishful thinking.

We can't give this fellow a subpoena.

He left the country yesterday

on a Polish freighter.

I shouldn't have handed him

that subpoena.

I should have stuffed it down his throat

with my hands still around it.

It was just me and him and that subpoena

on that dark porch.

Who'd have known the difference

if I'd have thrown him one left hook?

Young, ain't he?

We're off, Junior.


Keep him from blowing his top.

How you doing?

I live here.

The next daY was launched

the investigation that made headlines,

known as Operation Pineapple.

Ladies and gentlemen,

may I have your attention, please?

On your left you will see

the island of Molokai,

where the famous leper colony is located.

In a few moments we will be approaching

the island of Oahu on your right

and you will see Diamond Head,

the first landfall made by Captain Cook

when he discovered the Islands.

Beyond that, you will see Waikiki Beach,

with the Royal Hawaiian, Surfrider

and Moana Hotels.

Excuse me, gentlemen.

Phil Briggs, Honolulu Press Telegram.

Mind telling me your names and

the purpose of your visiting the Islands?

My name's Wilson. This is Mr. Alcorn.

We're here to make a survey

for a chain of lingerie stores.

Jim McLain, 6'4", looks just like

the picture I dug out of the morgue.

Who tipped you?

We belong to the wire services.

Got a query from our Washington office.

The gossip in Washington

is that your committee is setting up

an investigating team out in the Islands.

Well, we're here on a vacation.

Overwork and all that, you know.

Okay, I'll make a deal.

You got anything worth printing,

you give it to me first.

It's a deal.

See you.

Okay. Phil Briggs.

We found quarters, a duplex.

Real swank, right on the beach.

UsuallY, we work out of a $4 hotel room

with a nice view of an alleY.

Here's a complete list of all the names

from the previous investigation.

Memorize them.

ChaunceY! I never would have married You

if I'd known You were

such a wild, impatient man.

Light some place, will You?

Now, put this oil on You.

Sunburn on a honeYmoon.

It ought to be grounds for divorce.

Who do you think

you're working for, Doctor Kinsey?

Well, I gotta check the gadgets

to see if they work.

Besides, it proves

it's really a honeymoon couple,

not secret agents wiring us for sound.

SundaY morning. Pearl Harbor.

Before official sunrise.

Mal wanted to visit his brother's old ship,

USS Arizona.

So we hooked a ride

on the morning picket boat.

It seemed strange

saluting the quarterdeck,

because it was hard to believe

that we were standing

on the topside fire control platform

of the old Arizona,

battle-torn, fire-swept

and sunken though she is,

USS Arizona is still carried on NavY lists

as a fighting ship of the line.

She is an everlasting memorial

to the gallant men

who died at their battle stations.

And below these decks, she still carries

a full complement of crew.

207 officers, 1590 bluejackets and Marines.

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Stephen Vincent Benet

Stephen Vincent Benét was an American poet, short story writer, and novelist. He is best known for his book-length narrative poem of the American Civil War, John Brown's Body, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and for the short stories "The Devil and Daniel Webster" and "By the Waters of Babylon". more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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