Star Reporter (1939)
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At the center of it all, Warren Hull is not bad in the title role, though perhaps the most interesting thing about his character is how long it takes him to discover a basic fact of the plot that several other characters--both on his side and working against him--are keeping from him!
Is it a lot to keep track of? Um, not particularly, since the plot moves along too fast for us to get too wrapped in the whole situation. But then, we don't have time to get bored either. Which is kind of what we expect from a B movie with a title like Star Reporter, right?
The film is about the District Attorney and his reporter friend in their efforts to crack organized crime. Their big lead comes when a murder suspect is caught--and the crook knows a lot about the mob and might just be willing to talk. However, the mob isn't about to let this happen and will do anything to get this guy off the hook--though oddly, they don't just have him murdered (this seemed like the logical alternative to me). But, how the mob handles this is novel--as they discover that the killer is actually the father of the reporter and they plan on exploiting this! This ridiculous coincidence is pretty hard to believe as is the incident with the reporter's fiancée (Marsha Hunt) getting accused of murder herself (after she's in a particularly dumb scene involving a gun). While the plot problems are obvious, the film has a certain charm and is oddly compelling--mostly because the script, while clichéd, works well as a B-film.
The main character is the usual nice-but-dull protagonist seen in films such as this. He's gunning for a crime boss but through a plot contrivance doesn't realise the bad guy is his own father. It's a bit hard to swallow. A legal ally does know and tries to cover for the father for the son's sake, so the son takes out his wrath on the lawyer instead. It all comes clean in the end, but the journey is ordinary and devoid of depth so that you just won't care when it does.