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"That's the press, baby, and there's nothing you can do about it"

By Todd Franko (Contact)

Published August 7, 2009

There’s a romance about newspapers within our population.

Newspapers are a fixture of Americana themselves. Plus they do a decent job to be in position to capture other slices of Americana.

Hollywood loves newspapers as a backdrop, and this week, a newspaper trade magazine, Editor & Publisher, asked readers to vote on the best newspaper movies made by Hollywood.

Here’s a link to the story. More importantly, here are the poll results as reported today by Greg Mitchell of E&P::

8) "Absence of Malice" starring Paul Newman and Sally Field. 1981
7) "Sweet Smell of Success" starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. 1957
6) "His Girl Friday" starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. 1940
5) "Citizen Kane" starring Agnes Moorehead and Joseph Cotton. 1941
4) "The Paper" starring Robert Duvall, Glenn Close and Michael Keaton. 1994
3) "Ace in the Hole" starring Kirk Douglas/Billy Wilder. 1951
2) "All the President's Men" starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford. 1976

And the winner:

"Deadline U.S.A.," starring Humphrey Bogart (1952). It's got an oddball cast - Bogie, Kim Hunter, and mostly a bunch of radio actors - Ed Begley, Joe De Santis, Martin Gabel and Joyce McKenzie to name a few - who have three days to bring down a gangster.

Here are some voter comments on the films:

-- Why is (“Deadline U.S.A.”) still relevant today? Well at the end, the newspaper is sold and closes.

-- Line from "Deadline USA":
"What's that noise?"
"That's the press baby, the press and there is nothing you can do about it....nothing!"

-- “The Paper." There's a very quick scene in passing in the newsroom when one reporter annoyingly calls out, "How do you spell ..." and a copy editor turns and yells, "Look it UP!"
-- "Ace in the Hole" – Billy Wilder's 1951 film in which a washed-up big city newsman (Kirk Douglas), now working for a small paper in Albuquerque, tries to regain fame by exploiting a local story about a man trapped in a cave. The whole affair becomes a media-fueled circus, complete with food vendors, a tent city of gawkers, and an amusement park ride. The portrayal of the press and of the public appetite for sensation seem pretty over-the-top, but the film is based on a real event that became a similar media circus.

-- Great movie lines:
"... if there's no news, I'll go out and bite a dog."
"Bad news sells best. Cause good news is no news."
"It's a good story today. Tomorrow, they'll wrap a fish in it."


1DavidSkolnick(57 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

While Joseph Cotten is one of my favorite actors and is brilliant in Citizen Kane, it is Orson Welles who is the star of Citizen Kane. Also, Agnes Moorehead is such a minor character in the movie (Kane's mother) that I forget she's even in it.

As for the newspaper movies on the list, Ace in the Hole is my favorite. BTW, Billy Wilder is the movie's director and doesn't act in it. In second would be Kane followed closely by Sweet Smell of Success (easily Tony Curtis' best performance in a movie).

Great newspaper movies not on the list include The Front Page (1931 version), The Parallax View and Libeled Lady.

All the King's Men (1949) could be considered a newspaper movie with the main supporting character (John Ireland as Jack Burden) starting as a reporter. But I think of it more as a political movie; actually the best political movie ever made.

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2apollo(1227 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

How about All The Presidents Men? Based on a true story and launched the Washington Post and Woodward and Bernstein as stars.

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3KLibecco(84 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Also, there was an amazing/awful Disney musical called "Newsies" (1992) that is considered one of the worst of all movies ever made. But it launched Christian Bale's career, even if he sang and danced so awkwardly it was borderline. Still, it's about newsboys, so we'll call that a newspaper movie. And it's my favorite newspaper movie, even though I'm not sure if I like it because it's bad or if I like it because it's good. The score, however, by Alan Menken, is really wonderful.

Here's some quotes to prove how silly it is:
Newsies: We need a good assassination, we need an earthquake or a war...
Snipeshooter: How 'bout a crooked politician?
Newsies: Hey, stupid, that ain't news no more!

Jack Kelly: Extry, extry, read all about it! Ellis Island in flames!
David Jacobs: Hey, where's that story?
Jack Kelly: Page nine. Thousands Flee in Panic!
David Jacobs: "Trash Fire Next To Immigration Building Terrifies Seagulls"?
Jack Kelly: Terrified Flight from Inferno!

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