Steel Town was a 1952 feature film starring Ann Sheridan, John Lund and Howard Duff. The feature was set at a steel mill and was filmed under the direction of George Sherman at Universal-International's studios and on location at Kaiser Steel in Fontana, California.
Lund played the son of the mill's owner who, in order to learn the business, posed incognito as a new hire needing to learn the trade. He boarded with a steelworker's family and fell for the daughter, "Red". Tensions rose between Lund's character and a fellow worker who was Red's other suitor. As the new hire proves himself on the job, he wins over his fellow workers and gets the girl. The film was photographed in Technicolor, in part to show off Sheridan's red hair.
At the suggestion of a local business owners, Alabama Theatre manager Norris Hadaway petitioned Universal to hold the film's premiere in Birmingham, with Sheridan, Lund and Duff appearing in person. Thousands of people attended one of three screenings on opening day, March 20. Thousands more filled the street outside the theater to catch a glimpse of the stars, who arrived for the 9:00 PM screening in open cars. WSGN-FM's Gene Proctor competed futilely with the crowd to get their voices on the air.
The three took to the stage to perform a short skit, "Me", written by Estes Kefauver, before the film began. After the film, the stars were interviewed by Birmingham high school students.
On the following day, the Birmingham City Commission and Birmingham Chamber of Commerce arranged for the stars to visit local steel plants as part of the distributors' publicity campaign. Sheridan awarded a Kaiser Steel "Henry J" automobile to local steelworker A. B. Sewell.
The visitors left from Birmingham Municipal Airport for Atlanta, Georgia for another opening event. Steel Town went on to earn $1.1 million at the box office.
- Caldwell, Lily May (March 9, 1952) "Birmingham ready to roll out carpet for 'Steel Town' stars" The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Caldwell, Lily May (March 21, 1952) "Movie fans storm theater to see "Steel Town," film celebrities" The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Wright, A. J. (June 3, 2016) "That Night Movie Fans "Besieged" the Alabama Theater" Alabama Yesterdays: Random wanderings through Alabama history
- Steel Town at IMDB.com