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

Thursday, October 15, 2009


PARK ROW (1952). Director/Writer/Producer: Samuel Fuller.

This labor of love for Samuel Fuller about the newspaper business takes a while to get started, but eventually becomes quite interesting and dramatic, although it's nowhere in the league of, say, Citizen Kane, which also, in part, dealt with newspapers. Phineas Mitchell (Gene Evans), fired from the Star in 1880's New York, lunges at the opportunity to start his own newspaper the Globe, which he intends to make a real newspaper, not a shoddy imitation like the Star, whose publisher Charity Hackett (Mary Welch) hasn't got newsprint in her blood. His first big story is his pal Steve Brodie (George O'Hanlon) jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge. Hackett is attracted to Mitchell, and instructs underlings to begin a war on the paper, even though its circulation is not nearly as big as her major competitors. The war escalates into violence and tragedy, with bombs, mobs and destruction. Fuller even works in the invention of Linotype and the gift of the Statue of Liberty. Although this is supposed to be the "true" story of newspaper publishing, it has to be taken with a grain of salt. Fuller's script could have used some punching up and there are character reversals that make no sense. Mary Welch gives the most interesting performance in the film. (Welch died in childbirth six years after the movie was released and had only three other television credits.) Evans of Giant Behemoth fame certainly has his moments and is by no means a bad actor, but you can't help comparing him to the dynamic Orson Welles. Evans doesn't really have that kind of big screen presence that would help him dominate a movie.

Verdict: An interesting curiosity. **1/2.

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