Ronald Reagan Appears as Burt Rainey in "Storm Warning"

Storm Warning is a 1951 American thriller, directed by Stuart Heisler, and stars Ginger Rogers, Doris Day, and Ronald Reagan.

Plot

Marsha Mitchell, a traveling dress model, stops in the southern town of Rockpoint to see her newly wed sister Lucy Rice (Doris Day). Within minutes of entering the town she observes unusual behavior by the townsfolk, such as dozens of people closing up shop and getting out of sight. As she walks down the almost pitch dark main street, she observes loud noises coming from the town police station. She hides and observes a drunken KKK mob beating and berating a man they had just broke out of prison. The man untangles himself from their clutches and runs, but only gets several yards before shotgun shots are fired from the mob, shooting him dead in both the chest and head. Confused, the mob approaches the fallen man, arguing amongst themselves. Marsha, who is hiding herself only meters away from the crime scene gets a good look at the two men who removed their hoods during the fiasco.

After the mob quickly leaves the scene, Marsha runs to the nearby bowling alley where her sister is employed. Lucy quickly notices the shocked and horrified look on her sister's face and inquires. Marsha tells her about the murder she just witnessed, which brings Lucy to tell her about the journalism of Walter Adams, whom she believes must have been the man who was slain. She explains that Adams arrived in town somewhat recently and was employed by the phone company, but was secretly a journalist writing defaming material about the town's KKK. The police decided to put an end to his journalism and arrested him on false charges of driving while intoxicated.

Lucy brings Marsha to her house and encourages her to tell her husband Hank about the situation. However, there is a problem- the instant Marsha is introduced to him she recognizes him as one of the two men who removed their hoods. Within minutes when she and Lucy are alone (at least she thinks they both are alone) she tells her that her husband was one of the KKK men. An eavesdropping Hank, with a clear look of guilt on his face, denies everything. However, within minutes he's not able to hold his own against Marsha's verbal evidence, and confesses. He sobs and says he was drunk and was forced to go with them to the scene, and did not mean for the man to die- all they wanted to do, according to Hank, was talk to the guy and persuade him to leave and stop defaming their town. Hank then desperately tries to persuade Marsha to keep her mouth shut, for the sake of his life and his marriage to her sister, who is pregnant. Lucy forgives her husband and decides that he was simply apart of something that was beyond his control. Marsha, still viewing him as a vile person, reluctantly agrees to leave town and "forget" about the incident.

District Attorney Burt Rainey (Ronald Reagan) arrives at the murder scene and inquires to the police as to how they could let a mob break through their doors and kidnap one of their prisoners, reminding them that it is their duty to protect them. They claimed that they were simply outnumbered- Rainey, however, is skeptical of that excuse and insinuates that he thinks they were an accomplice. He then arrives at the bowling alley and questions Charlie Barr (Hugh Sanders), the Imperial Wizard of the town's KKK, and gets nil results. He then learns about Marsha and orders her to his office. Many townsfolk attempt to dissuade Rainey from investing the case, for fear of him destroying the town's reputation and economy.

At his office Rainey questions Marsha and gets a half-truth, which is that she saw Klansmen, but did not get a look at their faces which she said were covered by hoods. Rainey is satisfied and believes that the mere fact that she saw Klansmen is all he needs to bring them down. He hands her a subpoena for the speedy trial that takes place that same day. Under pressure from both her sister and the Klansmen, she decides to lie in court, allowing the jury to decide that Adams was "killed by assailant or assailants unknown."

The KKK, along with the sympathetic townsfolk celebrates at the bowling alley, while berating those that were against them. Disgusted with herself, Marsha packs up her stuff at Lucy's house so she can leave town. However, a drunken Hank arrives home and corners her, asking her repeatedly why she dislikes him. He then gets violent and tries to rape her, which is broken up by the arrival of Lucy. Lucy finally denounces him, and Marsha then tells him that she has rethought her testimony and is going to turn him in to Rainey and the police. Furious, he kidnaps her and his wife and brings them to the KKK rally. At the rally they whip Marsha seven times before being broken up by the arrival of Rainey and the police. Barr orders his men to hide Marsha and keep her quiet. As Rainey appears before him, Barr threatens him and tells him to leave. Rainey ignores him and snoops around, finding a weeping Marsha being held by a couple of Klansmen. He then confronts Barr and demands answers. Desperate, Barr names Hank as the culprit to the murder. Hank, stealing a sidearm from one of the Klansmen, shouts in fury damning everyone, and shoots his wife, which is followed by a police officer shooting him down with an automatic weapon, killing him. Scared and disillusioned, the rest of the Klansmen, many of them dropping their attire, leave the scene, leaving Barr, the grand wizard, to fend for himself. The police arrest Barr, and the film ends with Lucy dying in Marsha's arms, with Rainey comforting her.