After Blake Washburn (Jeffrey Lynn) is defeated by John MacFarland (Donald Crisp), the son of a wealthy manufacturer, in a state legislature election, he becomes obsessed with the idea that big business is not only responsible for a lot of society’s problems but also his own unemployment. He returns to his hometown to take over as editor of the local newspaper, called the Herald. As the editor, he begins campaigning against high finance in general and MacFarland in particular. When Blake’s kid sister, Katie (Melinda Plowman), is badly injured in a mine-shaft accident during a school trip, MacFarland commissions a plane to rush her to a hospital after she has been examined by his company doctor. When brain surgery and a respirator running on a MacFarland company motor save Katie’s life, Blake changes his views on big business.
BEHIND THE SCENES
An industrial film that was not intended for general release, Hometown Story is simplistic propaganda. Sponsored and supervised by John K. Ford, head of General Motors’ film division, this superficial melodrama was designed to promote American industry and criticize liberal views of big business.
Hometown Story was Marilyn’s third and final project for MGM and it was produced, directed and written by Arthur Pierson, who had directed Marilyn in Dangerous Years
. Production was completed just prior to her new contract with Fox, making it the last movie she acted in before the death of her mentor Johnny Hyde on December 18th, 1950.
As a bit player, Marilyn was often expected to provide her own wardrobe. The sweater with the gray body and black sleeves that she wore in her role as Miss Martin, the secretary of Hometown Story, had been worn earlier in the year for her role as Polly inThe Fireball
and in her final scene in All About Eve
. She also wore this same sweater-skirt ensemble in the screen test she was required to take before being offered her contract at Fox. Though some have suggested that Marilyn did this for good luck, it could also have been a matter of low funds.