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Carbine Williams (1952)

Unrated | | Biography, Crime, Drama | May 1952 (USA)
David Marshall Williams is sent to a prison farm where he works in the tool shop and eventually develops the precursor of the famous M-1 Carbine automatic rifle used in World War II.


Richard Thorpe


Art Cohn (screenplay), Art Cohn (story)




Cast overview, first billed only:
James Stewart ... Marsh Williams
Jean Hagen ... Maggie Williams
Wendell Corey ... Capt. H.T. Peoples
Carl Benton Reid ... Claude Williams
Paul Stewart ... 'Dutch' Kruger
Otto Hulett ... Mobley
Rhys Williams ... Redwick Karson
Herbert Heyes ... Lionel Daniels
James Arness ... Leon Williams
Porter Hall ... Sam Markley
Fay Roope Fay Roope ... District Attorney
Ralph Dumke ... Andrew White
Leif Erickson ... Feder
Henry Corden ... Bill Stockton
Frank Richards ... Truex


This is the story of David Marshall 'Marsh' Williams, the real life inventor of the world famous M-1 Carbine automatic rifle used in WWII. It all started when Marsh, who was one to do things his way, was caught distilling moonshine, and was accused and convicted of shooting a federal officer in the process. This at first placed him in the chain gang which labeled him as a hard case. Later, to make room for those more deserving, he was moved to a prison farm, where he came under the direction of Captain H.T. Peoples. The Captain was a mild mannered warden, who did not shy from discipline when necessary, but also believed that given the opportunity, most men will respond to good. Believing that Marsh was just such a person, the Captain gave him every opportunity to reform, so much so, that he eventually allowed Marsh to work in the tool shop on his spare time to develop and build by hand, a working rifle, inside the prison farm itself. Written by Bill Walch <TheWalchs@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


This is my Story


Biography | Crime | Drama


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Jean Hagen and Wendell Corey re-created their roles in a production of Lux Radio Theatre on 3.22.54. Ronald Reagan portrayed Marsh. See more »


Marsh Williams: But there isn't enough time Maggie. You can have enough of everything else. You can enough food, you can enough land, you can even have enough money, but you never can have enough time, because it's the only thing you can't save.
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Crazy Credits

At the beginning of the film - The March, 1951 issue of Reader's Digest published an article in its series. "The Most Unforgettable Character I've Met." That character is David Marshall Williams - and this is his story. He lived it. See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

User Reviews

wonderful, wonderful movie
16 June 2003 | by rupieSee all my reviews

"Graceful" is not a word one would use in the same sentence with "Jimmy Stewart." Gangly, awkward, and with a reedy, high-pitched voice, he seems to have none of the things that we think an actor should have, and yet he was truly one of the great ones. His presence in this true story of David Marshall Williams, designer of the M-1 rifle, lifts what is a fascinating human story to begin with by a quantum notch. Stewart's portrayal of the character transformation of this angry, troubled man is one of the finest things I have seen from him. Abetted by Wendell Corey in the essential role of his prison warden and an excellent script, this movie is truly an underrated gem. They just don't make 'em like Jimmy anymore.

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Release Date:

May 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Story of David Marshall Williams See more »


Box Office


$1,111,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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