Billy Wilder: “My delight… is ’cause everyone has been looking down on movies as something kind of third-rate until, thank god, the invention of television. Now we have something to look down on.”
Not quite a film noir, I don’t think, but close. Continues the string of 50’s movies I’ve watched lately, but this one’s from back in the year of Day the Earth Stood Still / Thing From Another World and Fixed Bayonets / The Steel Helmet.
It’s a damn well-made movie, as the commentary track helpfully illustrates, but Katy didn’t like it because of unlikeable characters (which is why when she asks if she’ll like “there will be blood” I tell her no) and Jimmy fell asleep since we started it at midnight. It’s about a desperate newspaper man whom Sam Fuller would have despised, making the news himself and conspiring to suppress other reporters while building up a sensationalistic story to glorify his own reporting and get himself back on top. At least when it fails, he recognizes what he has done and owns up to his own role in the trapped miner’s death, though by Code rules, the reporter dies too, stabbed by an equally hot-tempered and strong-willed woman.
A deeply-dimpled Kirk Douglas stars (shortly before doing Big Sky and Bad and the Beautiful) alongside Jan Sterling (who did High and the Mighty with John Wayne before retreating to television) as the miner’s wife who wants out but plays her part as a concerned wife out of greed for tourist cash. Professional villain and Preston Sturges actor Porter Hall is Douglas’s very straight-laced, belt-and-suspenders small-town newsman boss. Corrupt sheriff Ray Teal ended up famous for playing sheriffs, and his unhelpful deputy is Gene Evans, the newspaper man in Park Row. Porter Hall was dead in two years, and the guy who played the miner’s dad (John Berkes) died one week after the film’s release.
Evans and Berkes:
I’d pay to see some great S&M amusement:
Kirk Douglas addresses his “fans” from the mount:
A sad father surveys the aftermath: