I do not host or maintain any of these online films myself; these pages just link to publicly available trailers, clips and full-length films at YouTube and Vimeo. If full-length films are posted without authorization, the links will be disabled after the service determines there is a problem.
The Sun Sets at Dawn (1950)
Like “The Front Page” and “His Girl Friday” — but no comedy — this death-row drama starts as reporters gather to cover an execution, in this case the state’s first by electric chair.
Ace in the Hole (1951)
YouTube automatically aggregates references to frequently “clipped” films on title pages, such as this Ace in the Hole page. Also released as “The Big Carnival,” what was originally called “Ace in the Hole” stars Kirk Douglas as a newspaperman with one goal — to make it back into the big time of New York journalism after sliding down to smaller and smaller papers. An excellent restored version is available on a Criterion Collection DVD, including supplementary interviews and program notes in the form of a printed newspaper. Perhaps having the trailer and clips on YouTube will inspire some viewers to seek out the recording for those added features.
Park row (1952, trailer, clips)
Sam Fuller’s “Park Row” (which I’ve also written about at my JHeroes blog) was a veteran newspaperman’s love letter to newspaper heroes, romance and legends — complete with the inventions of the open-newsroom, the sidewalk newsstand, the Linotype, page one graphics, newspaper “crusades” and no-holds-barred circulation wars. (Although I don’t know that any editor ever battered someone’s head against the Park Row statue of Benjamin Franklin to avenge an over-ambitious circulation campaign.) Most of the characters are composites or stand-ins, and the attempts to include Romance! and Action! fall a little flat, but I still love this film.
Trailer: ”America’s great fighting editor in the first terrific struggle for a free press!”
Clip: “Put it in the newspaper!” A source enters the newspaper saloon…
Deadline U.S.A. (1952, clips)
A DVD and online streaming version of this classic Humphrey Bogart film were available briefly, but its removal from Amazon suggests there were problems, or that a new, better edition is coming. I hope so.
A few scenes are on YouTube:
The barroom “wake” for the New York Day after the staff gets the word the paper is about to be sold to its “wild and yellow” competition and, presumably, put out of business. Unfortunately, Bogart’s “It may not be the oldest profession, but it’s the best” speech to a young man interested in a newspaper career was cut from the end of this clip.
Bogart and Ethel Barrymore — as the editor and the publisher’s widow — discuss the paper’s big investigation (“We showed them how a real newspaper can function, and now we’re licked, baby”), and their marriages.
“You wouldn’t have had a wife if that newspaper had beautiful legs.”
Bogart’s final conversation with the crime boss.
“Print that story, you’re a dead man.” — gangster
The Trial of john peter zenger (1953)
To my knowledge, jailed colonial printer John Peter Zenger’s story — a landmark in American press freedoms — has never been a feature film, but it was a very early (1953) made-for-TV movie, “The Trial of John Peter Zenger,” starring Eddie Albert and Marian Seldes. (Seldes is daughter and niece of two well-known writers, the critic Gilbert Seldes and his brother, journalist George Seldes. George’s life story was told in the 1996 documentary, “Tell the Truth and Run,” with Marian among the narrators.)
See my discussion of two radio adaptations of the story: Remember Anna Zenger and Mother of Freedom.
It Happens Every Thursday (1953)
The YouTube clip has just a couple of scenes from this Loretta Young and John Forsythe film about a New York couple taking over a small-town newspaper, based on the book It happens every Thursday by Jane McIlvaine McClary. See the NYTimes review, and more about It Happens Every Thursday at Turner Classic Movies. For comparison, listen to the Cavalcade of America dramatization of the Houghs’ experience running a weekly on Martha’s Vineyard in “Once More the Thunderer.” (As his Times obituary noted, Forsythe also played a newspaper editor in “The Captive City” (1952) the previous year. That, too, sounds like an interesting film (see its TCM synopsis), sharing a newspaper-versus-organized-crime theme with “Deadline USA.”)
Stolen Assignment (1954 or 1955)
[The YouTube copy has been removed.]
British journalists, for a change. As a bonus, a Mrs. Hudson who is not Holmes’ landlady and a Miss Watson who is not Holmes’ assistant. In fact, no Holmes, but you do get a pipe-smoking police inspector and competing reporters — in a plot similar to some U.S. battle-of-the-reporting-sexes films. “Social functions make me tired and I loathe the ‘smart set,’” says a society reporter who wants to compete with her boyfriend on the crime beat.
Gojira (1954) and Godzilla King of the Monsters (1956)
Sometimes a “newspaper movie” is all about the reporters; sometimes the reporter or editor is just a sidekick in a detective movie. In this case, the reporter is pure “observer.” In fact, the original Japanese film had no American characters, and had a slightly anti-American theme, since the monster was created by nuclear testing. So the imported version was cleverly edited framing the story through the eyes of an American journalist, played by Raymond Burr. As he mentions in the interview with Bob Costas above, the American crew didn’t even go to Japan: Burr’s scenes were shot in Hollywood, then spliced into the original. The copy writers for the trailer (above) must have worn out their thesaurus searching for synonyms for “exciting.”
While the City Sleeps (1956)
The clip is a video review from “Shooting Down Pictures.” The full-length copy of Fritz Lang’s film that was on YouTube briefly has been removed because of copyright protests. Warner Brothers now sells a DVD of the film. The story was based on the 1953 novel “The Bloody Spur,” by Charles Einstein.
As IMDB says, “A serial killer has been killing beautiful women in New York, and the new owner of a media company offers a high ranking job to the 1st administrator who can get the earliest scoops on the case.” For my fall 2012 course, I’ve ordered the film through our university library, which also has (for authorized users only) access to the film script through an AFI database.
Life at a notorious gossip magazine.
Life of a notorious gossip columnist, one of many films over 30 years at least partly inspired by Walter Winchell; 2011 DVD in a Criterion edition:
In the swift, cynical Sweet Smell of Success, Burt Lancaster stars as the vicious Broadway gossip columnist J. J. Hunsecker, and Tony Curtis as Sidney Falco, the unprincipled press agent Hunsecker ropes into smearing the up-and-coming jazz musician romancing his beloved sister.
Teacher’s Pet (1958)
Clark Gable played a variety of dashing and romantic young reporters in films of the 1930s and 1940s, including Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night. Now, in this 1958 comedy, he’s an older city editor at a crime-and-sensation-minded daily, suddenly confronted with a more modern image of journalism education by college instructor Doris Day.
The film is available on DVD; YouTube has a trailer and clips, some by Doris Day fans who just use stills from the movie over the soundtrack of her singing the title song, or her “competition,” Mamie Van Doren, singing “The Girl Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll.” (This film could give someone a master’s thesis in analyzing male/female stereotypes in the 1950s; unfortunately, while implied that Doris/Erica grew up around her father’s newspaper and had a journalism career of her own, we don’t learn much about women newspaper reporters. She has already moved out of the newsroom to be a college teacher.)
Theme song and clips
Gable being Gable
–30– (1959, clip)
City editor William Conrad gives an intern one last lecture in this clip from film starring Jack Webb, Dragnet’s Sgt. Joe Friday, as editor. The whole story is of a night’s work as deadline approaches and stories evolve — a missing plane, rising flood waters, a lost child.