“Deadline – USA” (1952) starring Humphrey Bogart, Ethel Barrymore, & Kim Hunter

Ed Hutcheson, the editor of a crusading NYC newspaper- The Day– finds that the late owner’s daughters will soon be selling it to a rival (which focuses more on sensationalism). At first, he sees impending unemployment as a chance to win back the ex-wife he still loves, Nora (Kim Hunter). Then, a reporter pursuing a lead on a racketeer, Tomas Rienzi (Martin Gabel), is badly beaten. Hutcheson goes into fighting mode, trying to connect Rienzi to a young woman’s murder… and maybe even saving the paper (and the jobs of his co-workers)!

Ed Hutcheson: A free press, like a free life, sir, is always in danger.

The story is based on the closing of the The Sun, founded by Benjamin Day, in 1950. The Sun was sold to the Scripps Howard chain and merged into The World-Telegram. Location shooting took place both in the newsroom and the printing plant of The New York Daily News, w/ real pressmen playing themselves. There was also a reproduction of a newsroom on a Hollywood soundstage.

Alice: [After her mother announces she’s buying back the paper] What changed your mind?

Mrs. Garrison: Have you seen today’s paper? And yesterday’s? Loyalty changed my mind. A principle evidently lacking in today’s generation.

There are unpredictable scenes, many fine supporting actors, and a very strong script. The writer/director, Richard Brooks, worked on The Brothers Karamazov (1958) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and Elmer Gantry (1960). He had 6 Oscar noms during his film career- wow! Bogie (over 50, yet still going strong) gives an energetic and powerful performance, though it never seems over-the-top. Each line comes across as if he’d thought it up himself at the moment! Ethel Barrymore lends even more gravitas to the story w/ her portrayal of Margaret Garrison, the widow of the paper’s respected founder.

[1] …a realistic look at the life of a big city paper in days gone by. It’s a gritty piece of nostalgia, as timely in its day as The Front Page was in the Twenties. Cast members like Paul Stewart, Jim Backus, and Ed Begley look and feel right at home at their jobs.

[2] Kim Hunter excels also as the Bogart ex. Martin Gabel eerily predicts the Tony Soprano performance of today as an underworld Kingpin shown with his perfect domestic arrangement.

[3] …surprisingly up to date in its concern with how the public often doesn’t really care about the news, and that a lot of what’s packaged as news is just entertainment.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

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