The Houston Story

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

The Houston Story
The Houston Story film poster.jpg
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
Color processBlack and white
Clover Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • February 1956 (1956-02)
Running time
81 minutes
CountryUnited States


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.



The film went through a major casting change while in production on location in Houston. Originally set for the lead role was acclaimed character actor Lee J. Cobb. But Cobb suffered a heart attack on May 8 after filming an exhausting fight sequence, in part due to the heat in Texas, where the scene was shot. Cobb was not able to work for the three more days of location scenes on the schedule. Director William Castle, who resembled Cobb, doubled for him in these scenes. Ten weeks later Cobb had recovered enough to return to work. However he then suffered another heart attack and had to be replaced.[2][3]

Cobb's part had to be recast and according to Castle Katzman "insisted on a relatively new actor in pictures - Gene Barry, a fine actor, but as unlike Lee J. Cobb as anyone could be."[4][2]

Castle says footage of himself and Cobb remains in the final film.[2]

The film's sets were designed by the art director Paul Palmentola.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The Houston Story at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. ^ a b c Castle, William (1976). Step right up! : ... I'm gonna scare the pants off America. Putnam. p. 128.
  3. ^ "Houston TV Announcer Draws Cobb Role". Variety. July 6, 1953. p. 5.
  4. ^ "The Houston Story". film article at TCM Movie Database. Retrieved 2014-08-22.

External linksEdit