The Houston Story

The Houston Story is a 1956 crime film noir directed by William Castle starring Gene Barry, Barbara Hale and Edward Arnold.[1]

The Houston Story
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam Castle
Produced bySam Katzman
Screenplay byJames B. Gordon
Story byJames B. Gordon
StarringGene Barry
Barbara Hale
Edward Arnold
CinematographyHenry Freulich
Edited byEdwin H. Bryant
Clover Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • February 1956 (1956-02)
Running time
81 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film went through a major casting change while in production. Originally set for the lead role was acclaimed character actor Lee J. Cobb. But Cobb suffered a heart attack after filming an exhausting fight sequence, in part due to the August heat in Texas, where the scene was shot. Cobb's part had to be recast and went to Barry. The film's director, William Castle wrote that the producer "insisted on a relatively new actor in pictures - Gene Barry, a fine actor, but as unlike Lee J. Cobb as anyone could be."[2]


Frank Duncan (Barry), a shrewd oil driller from Galveston, Texas, conceives a plan to sneakily siphon millions of dollars' worth of oil from the oil fields and sell it as his own. He goes through nightclub singer Zoe Crane (Hale) to insinuate himself with a Houston mobster, Paul Atlas (Arnold) to get financing for his scheme.

Atlas tells right-hand man Gordon Shay privately that he plans to double-cross Duncan as soon as the money's in hand. Chris Barker, a gunman, robs Duncan and intends to murder him, but Duncan is able to push Barker off an oil rig to his death.

Duncan tries to make a getaway with the help of true-blue girlfriend Madge, but the hard-hearted Zoe steals his money and lies to Madge that Duncan has betrayed her. A pair of Atlas's thugs snatch Zoe, take her money and toss her from a moving car. Shay is killed, but before Duncan can get away, the cops close in on him and he's forced to surrender.


See also


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