Blake Washburn, as played by Jeffrey Lynn, heads back to his home town where he decides to take over the local newspaper in the hopes of jumpstarting his political career. The only way he thinks he can do so is by attacking big business through revealing articles and scathing editorials. While the man sells a lot of papers, he makes few friends in doing so and those that he has left are starting to drift away, wanting nothing to do with the man and his crusade. Luckily, or unluckily, tragedy happens and it brings Washburn back to reality and makes him realize that all he needs is currently around him.
There is not a lot to Home Town Story, nothing that has not been seen a thousand times over, but what it does have is a certain kind of charm, a quality that lets you enjoy the picture no matter how familiar, how good or how bad it might be. There is in fact, nothing wrong with this movie. Written and directed by Arthur Pierson and clocking in at just over an hour, it may go on to promote big business in a way, but putting that aside and focusing on the story of a man and his friends and family, it manages to put forth some solid performances and it keeps your eyes on the screen at all times. It is not the most exciting fare you will ever see, but it is not the worst either and will keep you entertained for the hour that it takes up.
The one thing that makes this film worth mentioning is an early appearance by Marilyn Monroe in a very small bit part as a secretary, a role she would repeat more than once. It required no skill and her time on-screen was minimal, but you can see why they put her in the film which was not necessarily due to her acting abilities, but her more obvious assets. Marjorie Reynolds also stars as Blake’s girlfriend and Alan Hale Jr. as Blake’s best bud at the paper and all would do a great job with what they were given, despite the lack of depth in the material. Lynn himself was quite good as the likeable-unlikeable hero of the film and it was good to see his character come to his senses come the end of the movie. Ultimately, Home Town Story is not a ground-breaking feature and is not essential viewing in the slightest, but it is a curiosity if only for the fact of Monroe’s appearance.