"The Fearmakers" is a black and white 1958 film about political corruption. Ostensibly it deals with PR which was an increasingly popular subject in the late 50s - "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit" (1955), "A Face in the Crowd" (1957), "The Sweet Smell of Success" (1957). There is also a subplot about the influence of Communism, which was also a popular film topic at the time - "I Married a Communist" (1949), "Conspirator" (1949), "Big Jim McCain" (1952), and "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962)
Handsome Dana Andrews (1909-92) stars as a returning Korean War vet who owns a PR firm that has been taken over while he was a POW and presumed dead. Andrews appeared in over 100 films, including memorable roles in "The Westerner" (1941), "Ox Bow Incident" (1943), "Laura" (1944), "A Walk in the Sun" (1945), and "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946).
Dick Foran (1910-79) has the face that everyone remembers. He was a popular singing cowboy in the 30s who went on to play in more than 100 films, usually as the second male lead. He worked with Bogart in "The Petrified Forest" (1936), with Cagney in "The Fighting 69th" (1940) but more often with good friend John Wayne in films like "Fort Apache" (1948) and "Donovan's Reef" (1963). In the 60s he transitioned to TV. In this film Foran plays a villain, one of the few times he took this role.
Marilee Earle (1934) plays Foran's secretary. She made only 6 films in the mid 50s and then married an executive from United Artists.
FWIW - the car that Earle drives is an Edsel.
Famed singer Mel Torme (1925-99) makes his film debut as a PR researcher. The "velvet fog" made a few films, none of them remarkable.
Look for shapely Veda Ann Borg (1915-73) in a small part as the man-loving wife of a drunk. Borg appeared in dozens of B films in the 30s, 40s and 50s, then transitioned to TV where I remember her best from her many appearances on "The Abbott and Costello Show" (1953). She gave a bravura performance as the blind pioneer whose husband remains behind at the Alamo in John Wayne's 1960 version.
Director Jacques Tourneur (1904-77) is best known for his work on films with Val Lewton, like "Cat People" (1942), "I Walked with a Zombie" (1942), and "The Leopard Man" (1943). In the 50s he transitioned to TV.
FWIW - this was Tourneur's second of three films with Andrews.
There are all sorts of problems with the film. The PR firm is supposed to be one of the major Washington firms, but there seem to be only 2 offices and 4 people working there. Andrews seems much too eager to involve Foran's secretary in his investigation and takes far too many chances. Etc. But the main problem is that the film doesn't have a focus. It mixes the anti-communist message with the brain washing and puts them both into the undue influence of PR thesis. Any one of these themes is worthy of concentration, but putting all 3 together makes for a confusing plot.
Nonetheless, the subject matter of this film is extremely compelling, especially in light of what happens today compared to what they speculate about in 1958.