The Phenix City Story, 1955


Phil Karlson


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Visit: Alabama

Nothing to do with Phoenix, Arizona – this Phenix City is in eastern Alabama, on the state border, and virtually a suburb of Columbus, Georgia, which is just across the Chattahoochee River.

Long before Frank Miller took the name for the setting of his dark yarns, Phenix had earned the dubious title of ‘Sin City, USA’. Quick off the mark to license alcohol after the lifting of Prohibition, Phenix (catering to, and exploiting, soldiers from nearby Fort Benning army training camp) quickly garnered a reputation for gambling and prostitution. Organised crime and political corruption inevitably followed.

Phil Karlson’s semi-documentary-style account of Phenix’s dramatic clean-up, made while the story was still headline news, was – unusually for the time – filmed on location in the real city.

Phenix City today, of course, is squeaky clean.

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