Production Company: The Caddo Company
Distributor: United Artists
Top Billed Actors: Adolphe Menjou, Pat O'Brien, Mary Brian
IMDb Rating: 7.0
*Best Picture Nominee*
Won 0 Oscars
Nominated for 3 more:
Best Director - Lewis Milestone
Best Actor - Adolphe Menjou
Plot: A bunch of newspapermen hang out in a room and talk on phones while one hides a convicted murderer in a desk.
Each character in the story is developed around the eve of the hanging of a convicted murderer. The supporting cast of newspaper reporters, who play cards and crack jokes in a common room, gives the film its trademark comedy. The quips might be outdated and might not even make sense in today's culture, but it is a refreshing sense of humor amidst a subpar storyline. Menjou's acting, albeit brief, is also excellent. In only a third of the film, he brings out the coldness of his character and clearly expresses his motives: for the good of the Morning Post.
A great support cast and a strong secondary character doesn't save the slow moving plot. The whole first act focuses on setting up the event of the hanging of the murderer while also showing the quirkiness of the "press room." This goes on for quite a bit of time and it gets rather boring waiting for something to happen. Although many things do unravel towards the end of the film, nothing is rather interesting unless you have an allegiance for a fictitious newspaper. Pat O'Brien, who plays the main character, also has only an average performance here. He yells each line and as a result, it seems he doesn't comprehend the purpose of the microphones on set.
Overall, once the plot unwound and quickened in the third act, this picture shows why it is considered a comedy classic. Milestone flexes his veteran movie muscles and Menjou thrills with his funny supporting cast.
My Score: 6/10