Newspaperman Bruce Corey returns from World War I with new ideas and wants to start his own tabloid. For want of other financing, he takes on as silent partner Merrill Lambert, gangland gambling kingpin. Thus is born the New York Mercury. Though its standards are not of the cleanest, Corey does fight to keep his paper's voice independent of Lambert. The two men's clash reaches a climax just as unsuspecting young reporter Tommy becomes Lambert's rival for lovely Gail Fenton. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The opening scene of the movies shows a newspaper headline "Whole City Out to Welcome A.E.F." The AEF was The American Expeditionary Forces, what the United States Armed Forces sent to Europe in World War I - a combination of the Army and the Marines to fight in France alongside French and British allied forces in the last year of the war, against Imperial German forces. See more »
Brisk newspaper potboiler shows roughhouse origins of The fourth Estate
This fleet and raffish newspaper melodrama was released the same year as Citizen Kane and in its far more modest way is almost as much fun. Like Kane (and dozens of 30s potboilers before it, most churned out by ink-stained wretches come west for a piece of the Hollywood action), it's a cautionary reminder of the roughhouse beginnings of the Fourth Estate.
Reporter Edward G. Robinson, overseas winning The Great War, started a peppy servicemen's paper The Doughboy. When he returns to New York, he wants to run the same sort of rag a tabloid for the straphangers. `The war's done things to people,' he tells his old-school editor. `We've made life cheap. and that makes emotions cheap...There's no privacy left...Keyholes are to look through.'
But getting start-up money proves hard, and he ends up striking a bargain with big-time gangster Edward Arnold, who'll stay the silent partner. But when Robinson's let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may style threatens Arnold's interests, the partners become adversaries. `What people want to put in papers is advertising,' Robinson lectures Arnold. `What they want to keep out is news.' After Arnold tries to strong-arm his way into control of the paper, Robinson vows to put him out of business.
LeRoy was an old hand at filming quick-and-dirty dramas that rested, however lightly, on timely social issues. So he predictably does as well (if not a mite better) as he did a decade earlier with Robinson in Five Star Final. Other players include Laraine Day, Marsha Hunt and William T. Orr, but Robinson and Arnold dominate, as they should. The story takes a clumsy and fanciful turn or two near the end (with Robinson suddenly delivering a reverent paean to the press at odds with everything he stood for), though even these twists echo big stories of the roaring 20s. The closing sentiment of Unholy Partners, however, is a dubious one: That the `tabloid age is over.' A pass through the supermarket checkout aisle or a few clicks of the television remote show how laughable that prediction was.
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