Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


BANNERLINE (1951). Director: Don Weis.

Mike Perrivale (Keefe Braselle) is a brash cub reporter who is itching to tackle hard news. After interviewing a dying old professor, Hugo Trimble (Lionel Barrymore), who despairs that the town and the paper has allowed corruption to persist, he gets the idea of a fake front page that will indicate something is about to be done regarding those problems. At first this is intended to be one fake paper to please the dying man, but Perrivale and old-timer Josh (Lewis Stone) decide to put it in every paper for real. This brings Perrivale into conflict with the town's head crook Scarbine (J. Carrol Naish).

Bannerline holds the attention but its premise makes little sense. Why would any newspaperman think it's okay, under any circumstances, to print fake headlines in a paper that's supposed to record the truth? Why would Perrivale throw away his career when he's on the verge of getting married?The story doesn't work but at least there's some good acting. Barrymore could have acted his role in his sleep but he's fine, and Braselle makes an appealing leading man. Sally Forrest is his pretty girlfriend and Spring Byington her mother. [She offers her cheek to Perrivle for a kiss, but he kisses the old gal on the mouth instead. She says to her daughter: "You've got something here!"] Naish is as solid as ever.The best performance comes from Elisabeth Risdon as Barrymore's wise and devoted wife of many years.

Verdict: Pleasant cast; mediocre story. **.

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