I watched this public domain film knowing that I probably wouldn’t like it, but sat through it because eventually I want to see every film in Marilyn Monroe’s filmography. Someday I will even get around to seeing Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!, Marilyn’s film debut in which she appears for all of 10 seconds. Home Town Story wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but that doesn’t mean that it is good, either.
Jeffrey Lynn plays a hot-tempered politician who returns to his small home town after losing his seat in senate. His dander is up because he believes his rival deceived the public in his campaign. He takes over his uncle’s newspaper in an attempt to sway public opinion back in his direction. Alan Hale Jr. (best known as the Skipper in “Gilligan’s Isle”) is an annoyingly upbeat newspaper man on his staff. Monroe plays a tough secretary whose tight sweaters turn heads in the office. The budget on this film was so low that the burgeoning starlet had to provide her own wardrobe, and one of her tops is obviously the same one she wore the year before in All About Eve. The crusading publisher is forced to change his mind about his political rival after he behaves heroically when, in an uninspired bit of scriptwriting, a child is trapped in a collapsed mine.
The main problem with the film, aside from occasionally obvious low budget, is the casting of Lynn, mainly an actor of bit parts and television roles, in the role of an impassioned crusader for the public good, something he can’t really pull off. Monroe is surprisingly good in her small part, and it is fun to see her tell the newspapermen who hang around her desk to get lost.