Sat 28 Jul 2012
NEWS IS MADE AT NIGHT. 20th Century Fox, 1939. Preston Foster, Lynn Bari, Russell Gleason, George Barbier, Eddie Collins, Minor Watson, Paul Harvey, Richard Lane, Charles Lane, Betty Compson, Paul Fix. Screenplay: John Larkin. Director: Alfred L. Werker.
Of all the thousands (millons?) of sites on the Internet, I believe the one I visit the most is IMDB, even more than Wikipedia, but excluding (of course) my own blog, the one you’re reading right now.
Back in the olden days, you’d watch a movie on the late show, try to catch the list of credits as they flashed by, and if you were lucky, you might recognize some the cast from other pictures you’d seen them in. You’d know the top two or three stars, of course, but not the ones listed any farther down than that.
For example, you might have known who Preston Foster and Lynn Bari were, but the rest of the names in the credits above? Mission: Highly Unlikely. I’ll let you have the honors on seeing what you can learn about them, but they were all professionals in the movie business, with lots of credits, and they – all of them – are part of what make this relatively low-budget movie so enjoyable.
Preston Foster and Lynn Bari are included in that last comment, of course, but what IMDB cannot do is help you find out what other movies they may have made together, unless there’s some way to do that that I don’t know about. What I do know is that they teamed up once before, in a movie called Chasing Danger, and that’s because I reviewed it here on this blog earlier this month.
I enjoyed watching that one, but all in all, I think I enjoyed this one more. In fact, I know I did, because News Is Made at Night falls into the category of a detective mystery tackled by a pair of newspaper people, one of my favorite kind of stories — lacking a PI anywhere in sight, that is.
Foster plays the hard-nosed editor who isn’t above the cheapest of tricks to get a story (publishing phony affidavits on the front page to stir up trouble; using an extension line to impersonate the acting governor to grant a reprieve to a convicted killer at the last minute; that sort of thing) while Lynn Bari plays the brash lady reporter whom Foster won’t hire because he doesn’t hire women.
Lynn Bari, of course, won’t be put off for any reason anything like that, nor is she above a little minor blackmail when she gets wind of one of Foster’s schemes.
Any movie that begins with a small plane strafing a prison yard has something going for it already, but the snazzy snap crackle and pop of the “animosity” between Foster and Miss Bari keeps the movie moving right along, even though the plot itself is rather ordinary and somewhat confusing, at that.
(Something to do with a gang of gangsters trying to run a town, or are they merely dirty politicians? Either way, they are all busy trying to gun each other down for most of the film’s 70 minute length.)
But believe it or not, there is a pretty good detective story that emerges from all this gang-oriented violence – not one worthy of a Christie or Carr, mind you — but if you’re a fan of detective fiction more than out and out crime fiction, you’ll find the ending satisfactory in that regard too — as well as the romance we all know is what this movie is really all about.
PostScript: I am amazed at how many posters and movie stills I found of this slightly obscure film — more, in fact, than I could use. On the other hand, there are no reviews or external links on IMDB to this movie. This one will be the first.