I’ve made it clear I’m no fan of Mervyn LeRoy‘s 1950s films, and that certainly includes The FBI Story (’59). James Stewart gives a reasonably engaging performance as FBI agent Chip Hardesty, whose 25-year history with the bureau serves as the basic throughline. If you can excuse or ignore the fact that The FBI Story is essentially a J. Edgar Hoover propaganda film (the closeted FBI director assisted the producers every which way), you could give it a pass. But it’s always struck me as a stodgy, Joe Friday-ish, overly righteous thing with a broomstick up its ass.
And yet I’ve always loved Elmer Bernstein‘s main-title theme. It summons your inner right-winger, and as such is almost as good as Jerry Goldsmith‘s Patton theme (including his entr’acte music). Every so often Bernstein’s scores would surpass the films they were meant to enhance; this was one such occasion.