Mervyn Leroy‘s The FBI Story (’59) is a longish (149 minutes), slightly stodgy but moderately engaging programmer about FBI agent Chip Hardesty (James Stewart) and his nearly-four-decade history with J. Edgar Hoover‘s bureau, reaching back to the early 1920s.

Interspersed with Hardesty family vignettes (Vera Miles plays his wife Lucy), LeRoy’s film is essentially a propaganda piece about the FBI’s stalwart and vigilant pursuit of justice and the handcuffing (and occasional shooting deaths) of all manner of bad guys.

I re-watched LeRoy’s film last night to pay special attention to the nearly 20-minute section that deals with the FBI’s Osage Native American murder investigation, which of course is what Martin Scorsese‘s Killers of the Flower Moon (Apple/ Paramount, 10.6) is about.

Based on Don Whitehead’s same titled 1956 book and written by Richard L. Breen and John Twist, The FBI Story devotes 19 minutes to the Osage murder case (starting around the 37-minute mark and ending at 56 and change).

The FBI investigation was actually led by regional lawman Tom White, played in Scorsese’s film by Jesse Plemons — a plain-spoken, cowboy-hat-wearing fellow in a three-piece suit who leads a team of FBI subordinates.

Hardesty is the chief investigator in LeRoy’s film, of course, but covertly — he arrives in Oklahoma (“Ute City in Wade County”) pretending to be a cattle buyer. Hardesty also has a small team of bureau guys working with him, but they’re also pretending to be something else (a casket salesman, a snake-oil salesman).

The main, historically verified location in Scorsese’s film is Fairfax, Oklahoma.

The intentional exploding of a home belonging to Bill Smith and his wife, Rita, is depicted in both The FBI Story and Killers of the Flower Moon. The explosion happened in the early morning hours of 3.10.23.

One of the Osage murder victims, Henry Roan, is depicted in both films. William Belleau portrays Roan in Scorsese’s version. In LeRoy’s film the character is called Henry Roanhorse, and is played by Eddie Little Sky.

Scorsese’s Osage massacre mastermind, based on fact and David Grann’s 2017 historical account, is William Hale (played by the too-old Robert De Niro).

Hale’s primary subordinate or dupe is his nephew, Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Also mired in the mess is Mollie Burkhart (Lily Gladstone), an oil-wealthy Osage woman whom Burkhart has married at Hale’s urging, the idea being to grab her funds in the event of her death or incapacitation. (Mollie is also the sister-in-law of Henry Roan.)

The bad guy in The FBI Story is a William Hale stand-in — a 60ish Oklahoma banker named Dwight McCutcheon (Fay Roope, who played Mexican president Diaz in Viva Zapata). I can’t identity the twerpy actor who plays McCutcheon’s nephew (the Burkhart stand-in), but I know his face like the back of my hand. He’s referred to as “Albert” and not Ernest, and his wife “Mollie” is discussed but not seen.

Anyway, The FBI Story doesn’t begin to explore the many layers and various intricacies of the complete Osage murder tale, but it does manage to acquaint the viewer with the basics and wrap it all up with an arrest in the space of 19 minutes.

Killers of the Flower Moon, which does get into the layers and intricacies of the Osage tale and then some, runs 206 minutes.

“Was the 206-minute length really necessary?” I wrote from Cannes on 5.20.23. “It’s basically a bit more than two hours of scheming and murder and fiendish plotting between De Niro’s “King Hale” and DiCaprio’s Ernest Burkhart, and a bit less than 90 minutes of Plemons and his FBI team arriving in Oklahoma and getting to the bottom of it all.

Killers is a good film but it feels too quiet and subdued and even…no, I won’t say mezzo-mezzo. It holds your interest and never bores. But it never really excites either. At the end of the day Killers doesn’t really generate enough juice.”

FBI Story secondary Osage players: Dwight McCutcheon as Fay Roope / Mary Lou Clifford as Indian Switchboard Operator (uncredited) / Eddie Little Sky as Henry Roanhorse / Jim Porcupine as Indian Switchboard Operator (uncredited) / Charles Soldani as Indian on Train (uncredited) / Vincent St. Cyr as Dan Savagehorse (uncredited) / Roque Ybarra as Murdered Indian (uncredited) / Chief Yowlachie as Harry Willowtree (uncredited).