Hinchcliffe, the ruthless publisher of a sleazy New York tabloid, is concerned that the ethical journalistic policies of City Editor Randall have caused a drop in circulation. He pressures the newsman to run more sensational stories including resurrecting the twenty year old Vorhees Murder Case. Although the perpetrator's actions were ultimately judged justifiable, and she has been subsequently living an exemplary life in anonymity, Hunchcliffe insists Randall revisit the story. Randall assigns Isopod, an alcoholic degenerate, to dig up anything lurid that he find. The unprincipled reporter fraudulently insinuates himself into the Vorhees' home masquerading as a minister and gets the expose he sought. Yellow journalism triumphs, and a decent woman's name gets dragged through the mud again... with tragic consequences. Written by
Ordered to up the sleaze quotient for increased circulation, New York "Gazette" newspaper editor Edward G. Robinson (as Joseph W. Randall) dredges up the story of a local woman who shot her adulterous lover dead, and earned a scandalous reputation. The serialization sells newspapers, but the subject Frances Starr (as Nancy Voorhees) has changed her life with second husband H. B. Warner (as Michael Townsend); moreover, the couple has kept the sordid past secret from pretty daughter Marian Marsh (as Jenny), who is about to marry handsome high society's Anthony Bushell (as Phillip Weeks). When boozy staff reporter Boris Karloff (as Isopod) absconds with Ms. Marsh's picture, the consequences could prove tragic...
This is a fine if dated early "talkie" with a message still reverberating. The ensemble cast, sometimes venturing into melodramatics with understandable verve, is fun. Successful Broadway star Aline MacMahon makes an impressive film debut as Mr. Robinson's lovelorn secretary. Director Mervyn LeRoy moves it nicely and includes some rich "split-screen" work.
******** Five Star Final (9/10/31) Mervyn LeRoy ~ Edward G. Robinson, Frances Starr, Aline MacMahon, Boris Karloff
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