Newspapers: We lost it at the movies

Dateline: Sat 02 Jan 2010

A friend and blog reader wrote about a movie he'd recently watched, with relish:

"Great movie last night on TCM-  'Deadline USA.'  Starring Bogie and made in 1952, it is a quaint reminder of why some old timers got into newspapering.  Well written, tightly directed, it is the story of a newspaper being closed while simultaneously bringing a Bad Guy to justice.  Some great dialogue and scenes explaining the need for newspapers.
"Them were the days-  when newspapers were relevant."

It will be interesting to see what Hollywood and other creators come up with re: today's decline in the industry, although certainly former Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon set the bar high in the last season of "The Wire" on TV, which focused largely on the city's newsroom -- lots of stressed out editors sneaking smokes in the alley (well, one) and a no-talent reporter or two -- but why do I remember in only the bad stuff????

Hell's bells, let's wallow in nostalgia before 2010 is too deeply entrenched and we've forgotten from whence we came. I have not had the pleasure -- yet -- of seeing 'Deadline USA," but I have a few favorite movies that deal with newspapers: "The Front Page" (both versions); "The Paper" and "All the President's Men." The latter is probably as much responsible as any other frivolous barometer for an influx of j-school students in the 1970s.

Since my expertise is limited, I turned to the one and only Captain Critic, aka Christopher Lloyd, formerly the film reviewer at the Indianapolis Star and now happily writing reviews on his blog, after being riffed.

A quick email to Chris produced an even quicker reply with his list of favorites.

Here they are, with his explanation:

"Ruth, here's the list I came up with by using my brain and the Internet. This is just newspaper movies. I've seen just about all of these.

It Happened One night

His Girl Friday

Citizen Kane

Ace in the Hole

Sweet Smell of Success

All the Presiden'ts Men


State of Play


The Front Page

Meet John Doe

Absence of Malice

The Pelican Brief

I Love Trouble

Runaway Bride

The Paper



Mean Season

The Killing Fields

The Year of Living Dangerously

Between the Lines

Deadline USA


"You may laugh at that last one, but the first 'Superman' had a lot of action set in the newsroom. It was really the focus of the first half of the movie. Though it doesn't explain how an observant reporter like Lois Lane fails to notice that Superman looks exactly like that dorky new journalist, sans glasses.


"''Sweet Smell of Success' is an arresting look at the seedy side of celebrity journalism, 50 years ago. 'Absence of Malice' is a good one about a well-intentioned journalist who screws up.


"I would say my faves are 'His Girl Friday,' 'All the President's Men' and 'It Happened One Night.'

'Friday' is just flat-out one of the funniest movies ever made. 'President's Men' is probably the most accurate portrayal of what a reporter's process is actually like (aka, very unglamorous).


"I love 'It Happened One Night.' Clark Gable has a nice turn as a reporter who's slick and deceptive, but still has a core line of morality he won't cross. It captures the cynicism and hidden romanticism of most journalists.


"If you want to throw in broadcast journalism movies, then I would say 'Broadcast News,' 'Network' and 'The Insider' are tops, in that order."


Many thanks to Chris, and happy viewing....oh, and thanks for reading newspapers.



Fabulist [unverified] said:

"Shattered Glass," though technically not a newspaper movie, is based on the downfall of Stephen Glass, who wrote for the New Republic. The movie examines what happens when editors become enamored with a "star" reporter who fabricates his stories. It's a movie that one IUPUI professor uses in his ethics class every semester. Students are asked how this situation can happen in any workplace environment, how economic pressures adversely affect news coverage, what role technology plays in continuing or uncovering the deceit, and how a system that relies on hiring (exploiting?) young (read poorly paid) talent can backfire.

2010-01-02 16:18:18

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

All The President's Men. Fantastic book and movie.

There's a Superman ride/attraction at Universal Orlando, and it's set largely in an old newsroom. (Or maybe it's Disney...)

Bogey made some good ones tho, didn't he?

2010-01-02 19:05:26

ruthholl [Member] said:

Yes, yes, yes. I am so glad Fabulist mentioned 'Shattered Glass," which I've seen on TV several times. Those are wonderful performances all around, and of course the real Glass is -- last I checked -- thriving, despite being a pathological liar during his term at The New Republic. That movie is a great study of how easy it is to make up stuff whole hog. Great movie for ethics studies.
Bogey did.

2010-01-03 08:34:29

ruthholl [Member] said:

Blog reader Duke suggests we add 30 to the list of great old newspaper flicks -- it stars Jack Webb as a hard-bitten city editor and in fact was directed by him. Released in 1950, "It was talky,
cliche-ridden, and a lot of fun if you liked anticipating Webb's dialogue," says Duke.
Go to Google and look up the 1959 review in the New York Times if you want more detail.
Danke, Duke.

2010-01-03 12:07:35

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Oh, y'all missed the best one: "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken."

Don Knotts starts out as a typesetter and then advances to investigative reporter to expose ghost activity in an old haunted house.

An absolutely authentic and accurate newspaper film.
Why? Because most newspaper people I have known are neurotic (some psychotic) and Barney played the part with great finesse.

2010-01-03 21:51:10

guy77money [unverified] said:

What was the name of the movie where they send Bogart to a journalism class and it's taught by a famous dead newpapers daughter. Bogey doesn't let on that he is a veteran reporter on the police beat. I love the ending when they figure out that (not sure who the love interest is in the movie) her dad published a small town newspaper and most of the time he wrote the typical normal news.

2010-01-04 00:12:44

Anonymous [unverified] said:

Blessed Event, Foreign Correspondent, Nothing Sacred, Teacher's Pet (probably the movie guy77money is referring to, but it was Gable, not Bogart).

2010-01-04 08:14:18

anonymous [unverified] said:

Add Northside 777 to the list

2010-01-04 10:08:16

ruthholl [Member] said:

Thank you all, for some fun stuff. This is great. Thanks to our friend who first suggested this topic.

2010-01-04 11:21:16

DwightSchrute [Member] said:

'The Paper' is my favorite movie about the BIZ.

2010-01-04 14:43:52

guy77money [unverified] said:

Ahh that's right it was Teacher's Pet been a long time since I have seen it. Your right it was Gable. Loved 'All the Presidents Men' and 'Absence of Malice' along with 'His Girl Friday'. Makes me want to do a newspaper movie night!

2010-01-05 00:06:51

irvin [unverified] said:


2010-01-05 11:22:22

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