Oregon Movies, A to Z

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Wallace Turner

October 9th, 2010 by Anne Richardson · No Comments · Oregon as inspiration

Behold the man who made Portland Expose, a 1957 exploitation film inspired by Rose City corruption, possible.

TIME MAGAZINE - Monday June 4, 1956

One night in Portland an alert police reporter for the Oregonian (circ. 230,238) noted that there were suddenly no detectives around police headquarters. Sniffing a story, he demanded an explanation from the police chief. The chief kept mum a secret that was being withheld even from the paper’s night city desk: detectives were out guarding the Oregonian’s Reporters Wallace Turner and William Lambert and their families while the pair were digging into one of the messiest official scandals in Northwest history.

The big story broke in April, and by last week it had state officials, from the governor down, involved in the uproar. The Oregonian’s sensational accusations: top Western officials of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters were conspiring with Seattle gamblers to 1) control Portland’s law-enforcement agencies, 2) organize all the city’s rackets, from pinball machines to prostitution. The Page One story put S. I. Newhouse’s staid Oregonian into a running fight not only with local officials but also with its opposition daily, the Oregon Journal (circ. 183,123). Read more…

I don’t recommend you see Portland Expose (unless you are made of sterner stuff than I, which you probably are, and then more power to you)  but Oregon film history scholars out there should know about Wallace Turner, whose reporting uncovered the rottenness which inspired that gleefully low minded film, and whose obituary recently appeared in the New York Times.

Although his Portland corruption investigation won a Pulitzer in 1957, Mr. Turner often said he was most proud of an investigation he had done five years earlier. The series revealed how officials in the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs had cheated Native Americans out of ancestral lands.

Mr. Turner’s West Coast coverage for The Times included articles on oil spills in Alaska; the strange last years of Howard Hughes; the manhunt for the so-called Green River Killer, sought in the murders of dozens of women; Seattle’s skid row; and the liberalization of Oregon’s marijuana laws.

Oregon Movies, A to Z salutes Wallace Turner, and observes a moment of silence honoring the past glories of long form investigative journalism.

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