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Buckley is an unethical reporter who manipulates the news for his own benefit as much as he reports it. When he is in Paris to get a medal for being rescued from his alleged kidnappers, he finds that his boss, Stevens, at the Chicago Globe is going with his old gal Dolly. When Stevens learns that Dolly is staying with Buckley in Moscow, he fires Buckley. To get his job back, Buckley and Lefty stage a great news story about the shooting of the last Romanoff, but the plan backfires and they are now in line to be shot by the Commissar. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
Those of us who only know Lee Tracy from his late career Art Hochsteader, the former president in Gore Vidal's play and movie THE BEST MAN (Tracy repeated his Tony winning role in the film) are in for a treat in this FRONT PAGE-style farce on the newspaper trade from early in that career.
After a somewhat disappointing 93 performance Broadway run with Thomas Mitchell as the lead newsman, Sam and Bella Spewak (later to create KISS ME KATE with Cole Porter) brought their frantically paced farce West with two members of the Broadway Cast (John Melvin Bleifer as Sozanoff and Ari Kutai as Kastya - relatively minor roles). The resulting film would be a perfect double feature with Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur's classic FRONT PAGE, filmed just two years earlier.
As far as we know, the Broadway run of CLEAR ALL WIRES did not provide any moments as romantic as THE FRONT PAGE's Opening Night - when MacArthur asked Helen Hayes to marry him - but barely five years after the movie came out, the Spewaks and Cole Porter used CLEAR ALL WIRES (with the addition of a comic reluctant diplomat character) as the basis for their musical hit LEAVE IT TO ME, which introduced Mary Martin to Broadway - and Broadway has had a love affair with HER ever since.
Una Merkel plays the Mary Martin part (Dolly) in the movie and even bears a striking resemblance - but she doesn't get to sing "My Heart Belongs To Daddy!"
CLEAR ALL WIRES' politics (Stalin and even an expendable Romanoff life are less important to Tracy's character than a headline) are a bit muddy, but the farce scarcely gives you time to think about them. It's 1933 and all Director George W. Hill and the Spwewaks care about is getting the next laugh - which they do with satisfying regularity - either the next laugh or the next turn that leaves you stunned with the sheer audacity. A fun 78 minutes.
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