|Index||5 reviews in total|
This made-for-TV piece moves quickly and has an arsenal of great acting
talent. Caught between a stalled writing career in the "legitimate"
publishing world, and an offer she can't refuse, Helen Grant (Pamela Reed)
gets in over her head with a seedy but successful tabloid. The new job
takes her on a wild ride, and us right along with her. Usually a supporting
actress, Ms. Reed holds her own in the lead here. In fact she is the
perfect pawn for the crafty Mr. Fallen (Burt Lancaster) who pulls all her
strings. Burt is brilliant.
It is a story of two kinds of betrayal: to others and to one's own self. The movie makes you ask, "What's my price to sell out my ideals?" Strong performances by Robert Urich and Lauren Hutton as well. Very watchable. I rate it an 8/10.
(There are Spoilers) "Scandal Sheet" really goes deep into how big
money can corrupt even the best of friends. Especially where it's used
by the likes of a clever and manipulating sleaze ball like the
publisher and editor of the scandal sheet "Inside World" Harold Fallan,
Trying to get an inside story about actor Ben Rowan, Robert Urich, we see how those who work for Fallen do their jobs at the beginning of the movie. Catching the troubled actor at an unguarded moment, coming out an drug & alcohol rehabilitation center, Ben is so upset by Fallan's vultures, his reporters and photographers, setting him up to make him look like he's still drunk that he almost ends up back in the tank for attacking the pasty and obnoxious "Inside World" employees.
Fallen learns that Helen Grant, Pamela Reed, is having trouble at the New York City news magazine "Lifestyle" and starts to go to work on her by pressuring a money strapped Helen to move to the west coast, all expensive paid in order to work for his rag at a starting salary of $80,000.00. It soon becomes obvious why Fallen is so interested in Helen to work for him; she's a very close friend of both actor Ben Rowen and his wife Meg, Lauren Hutton. Fallan feels that Helen who knew and roomed with Meg back in college can get him the big story about Ben's secret life, due to him confiding in her, and then splash it all over the front page of his tabloid.
Not interested at first to work for Fallan's "Inside World" Helen falls for his pitch in letting her write only true stories for his magazine not the made up sleaze and garbage that's usually printed in it. Fallan also exploits Helen's, a single mom, concern in getting her son Bobby, Robert Jayne, into a safe and decent private school that her salary at "Inside World" can provide for him. Instead of the tough and dangerous public schools that he's forced to attend back in NYC.
It's not long before Helen realizes what Fallan want's from her; to betray her best friends Ben & Meg by getting the dirt on them after being accepted and taken into their confidence.
It's hard to watch "Scandal Sheet" since it has nothing in it that you can cling on to and give you, like the people in the movie, any hope for the end of the movie uplifting itself. "Scandal Sheet" has one of the most depressing endings I've ever seen.
Ben, who was a major film star, trying to get his life back together is given the leading role in a 25 million dollar motion picture after being off the screen for years due to his acute alcoholism. With those financing the film not being able to pay the high insurance premiums for the movie, because of Ben being in it, to start rolling Meg who's also staring in the movie gives up her entire salary,$800,000.00, to pay it.
It's when Helen is forced by Fallan and his sidekick Simon McKay, Peter Jurasik, to pick up the document of Meg's payment to keep her husband Ben in the film, which they paid off the studio secretary to give them a copy of, that she saw just how low Fallan & Co would go to get the big story and tore it up replacing it with a blank sheet of paper in protest.
Helen who was earlier thrown out of Ben and Meg's home when she innocently told them that she worked for Fallan's paper, which more then anything else drove Ben to drink, didn't quite realize the damage it did to both their lives with that document.
Helen trying to win back Ben & Meg friendship by refusing to have anything to do with a story that Fallan wanted her to do about Ben's inability to get work without the help of Meg has Fallan pull out his ace in the hole. With that Fallan reaches a low that even he didn't think he could achieve but it did the trick and brought Helen back under his control.
Fallan's paper in the end not only destroyed Ben's chances for a comeback in the movies but drove the depressed and sick man to have a fatal heart-attack with Meg left all alone and at the point of having an emotional collapse.
Helen herself has her self-respect and dignity ripped away from her and at the same time she's hated and despised by Meg who holds her, even more then the slimy Fallan, responsible for her husbands untimely death. With the front page story of Meg's payment of Ben's insurance policy which Fallan, falsely and maliciously, gave Helen credit for.
Trapped in Fallan's employment with no outside jobs or money available for Helen to pay her expenses as well as being cleverly put in debt to Fallan she had no choice but to play the whore for the big money she's paid. Helen is now willing to do everything, no matter how low down and sleazy, he demanded of her even to sneak into the church and photograph the body of Ben Rowan, as he lies in state, for Fallan's scandal sheets next front page story.
There is what I think an important point to be made about this TV movie
which has not been touched on in any of the few comments made so far.
It is that the superb character actor Burt Lancaster resumes here in
1985 the rôle of the similar character he played in "The Sweet Smell of
Success", so many years before in 1957. As can only be expected with a
low budget TV film, it is no artistic masterpiece like the earlier
work, but all the same, well worth seeing.
The all-powerful gossip columnist of the first film, J.J.Hunsecker and Fallen,the editor of the yellowest of gossip magazines in this one, are both manipulative, calculating, and ruthless, but the first rôle was shown as being far more complex, so that Lancaster would have been able to play the more straightforward second rôle standing on his head, as they say.
Lancaster, as J.J.Hunsecker, is not only a megalomaniac, who bullies politicians and forces the ambitious Tony Curtis, his minion and errand boy, to commit despicable acts of betrayal and deceit and finally arranges for him to be savagely beaten by the police and thrown into clink, but he also appears to be a psychopath, with an unpleasantly more than brotherly love for his young sister, always ready to commit a crime at one remove to achieve his sinister ends.
On the other hand,Lancaster as Harold Fallen in "Scandal Sheet", is very "correct", quite unemotional, impassive, and not even contemptuous or verbally disrespectful as he schemes and uses his bag of dirty tricks single-mindedly to obtain, through his equally unscrupulously staff, who hate one another and probably him too, some new eye-catching story such as an interview with the late Grace Kelly by a self-styled spiritual medium on a Californian beach, a story about siamese twins who died on being separated but were "stuck back together" again by one unspeakable male reporter in the same coffin to make a good photo, or the trials and tribulations of an ex-alcoholic and ailing filmstar trying with the aid of his loving wife to make a come-back.
Fallen is always soft-spoken, calm and cautious as he goes about trying to get his filthy rag off the presses. He is a malignant force rather than a personality, who does what he feels he has to do, deploying others to do the actual dirty work, so that he seems hardly to be more blameworthy than a spitting cobra blinding its enemies or prey with its venom - that is just the nature of the beast. This character is also reminiscent of Mephistpheles, emissary of Lucifer the arch devil, whether in the "Faust" of Goethe or the "Doctor Faustus" of Marlowe: calm, logical, seducing with "offers you can't refuse", all without ever raising his voice, his blood pressure or even his eyebrows.
Over and over...Money is the root of all evil.
Helen Grant needs money and her writing assignment will not be published for over a year.
Enter Burt Lancaster, head of a vicious gossip newspaper that is in the process of destroying an alcoholic actor.
He promises Helen the world. He lures her out to California where he wines and dines her. Beautiful house, expense account, good schools for her son, great salary, great everything. Lead us not into temptation, but Helen will not be delivered from evil.
Lancaster had hired her because she is best friends with the actor he wants to destroy-Robert Urich along with his wife, her college room mate played nicely by Lauren Hutton.
When Helen destroys papers that show that Hutton is paying the insurance on her husband's contract, Lancaster makes sure to write the story stating that Helen had written this up. This destroys her friendship as well as the Urich character, who suffers a fatal heart attack.
At the funeral, Hutton spits at Helen. Helen takes pictures of the deceased and hands them over to Lancaster exclaiming that she wants the job. She has become a real stinker now. Money is certainly the root of all evil.
The review process is not always such a simple task as would be in watching a film like "Scandal Sheet".Scandal Sheet which by its very nature will most definitely keep you watching as to the outrage and sheer perversion of the tabloid headline industry.It is as well very near a real crime in the bait tactics it attempts to employ as the lure to Helen Grant with a hidden and unscrupulous motive in her hire to get a story about Ben Rowan.This is not only a shameful illusion but has the ultimate underpinning of killing two birds with one stone.It further provides the real conceit of an attempted murder and the parading a right to know or some sort of free speech argument to masquerade this treachery as the getting of a story.This was,historically speaking a film like this,a story about yellow journalism however it is more than mere yellow,it is red.What this film is claiming is unjust but it is not on the surface what it is measuring,it is more than mere hysteria the film is measuring your coffin.The film much to perhaps no ones surprise is soliciting for purposes of committing a crime and even more so its undersirable underpinning allows nothing and no one to be above such consideration.The dead are ridiculed and there passing are shamefully paraded as if there be but no one here to claim otherwise. The film Scandal Sheet requires participation so that it may gain circulation and so it is in circulation that it has gained the measure of contempt that needs to be addressed.Reality,like this film has become something of a cultural vampire literally stealing the life from civilization.The issue of a false witness is what this tabloid is in fact and even more so it requires that we participate merely by unwittingly approving if in spirit only but agreeing nonetheless in its supposition that this world is as disgraceful as any Sodom and Gomorrah story that the Holy Bible provides for.This mix-up of idealogical thinking is a warning to any serious theological consideration because what this boldness has done is open the door.The mouth that roared is going to be silenced because of this film and whatever freedoms it will attempt to use as its right to do what this film claims it does will be struck down with its being put out of business.The mouth and its influence will be no more thanks to this great film.Its claims upon the souls of humanity will need to take a step back before I shoot and that shot will in fact be from the barrel of a gun and forever end the real misbelief that there is anywhere that would allow for a house of prostitution to be the equal to a house of worship.This film is a celebration of the end time though not exactly as forecast however there will be a mouth no more with accompanying influence going the way of the world.I found this film in a bin in a supermarket for $2.95.It is what it is.So be it!
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