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

Thursday, May 10, 2018


James Mason with photo of Virginia Cherrill
LATE EXTRA (1935). Director: Albert Parker.

In his first film, James Mason, who stars, plays ambitious reporter Jim Martin, who lobbies to get assigned to the story of a cop killing. Bank robber Rudolph Weinhart (Clifford McLaglen) shot a police officer while he was fleeing from the crime scene. As Jim pursues the story, he is both helped and hindered by his girlfriend, fellow reporter Janet Graham (Virginia Cherrill). Even as Jim looks over another crime scene, that of a murdered woman who had called him saying she had information, Janet encounters another woman, Sylvia (Antoinette Cellier), who begs Janet to leave her out of the story or her own life may be forfeit. Inspector Greville (Donald Wolfit of Life at the Top) suspects that someone in the newspaper office has more information than he may be telling the police. Late Extra is one of those big city crime reporter sagas that shows life as it purports to be in a bustling newspaper office where everyone's after the big story and murder is the biggest story of all. Although Mason and most of the other actors are fine, the script is mediocre and this can hardly be called an auspicious debut for James Mason. Alastair Sim [The Ruling Class] plays a kindly older reporter named MacPherson. The picture has humor, sentiment and even a little action, but all told it just isn't very good.

Verdict: Fortunately Mason went on to much better vehicles. *1/2.


angelman66 said...

He really did go way back - had no idea he was acting on film in the early 1930s!

William said...

He did many pictures in the 30's, manyh of which were sadly forgettable.

Gavin Lockey said...

I have just seen this film on a very poor copy. I found it quite entertaining to be honest. It had much more zip and flair than the usual British Quota Quickie of the time. It was James Mason's debut and he was just getting used to the medium and i think it fair to say his performance is not that great. But Alastair Sim is great and the under-rated Virginia Cherrill keeps the movie popping along. The direction is tight and the editing very sharp for its time. The scenes in the press office had near overlapping dialogue before Howard Hawks had even perfected this. I often get the impression that people give the Quota efforts of the 30s short shrift and they are worth a re-evaluation. Good site.

William said...

Thank you! And thanks for your analysis -- I think you are not alone in that there are other people who admire this picture. You'll get no argument from me on Sim, a wonderful actor. Your points are well taken but I just didn't care for the script. I liked Mason in this better than you did.

Anyway, thanks for your comments!