12 user 3 critic

Big News (1929)

A reporter's marriage is jeopardized by his drinking and he finds himself accused of a murder he didn't commit.


Gregory La Cava


George S. Brooks (play), Walter DeLeon (adaptation) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Armstrong ... Steve Banks
Carole Lombard ... Margaret Banks (as Carol Lombard)
Louis Payne Louis Payne ... Hensel
Wade Boteler ... O'Neill
Charles Sellon ... J.W. Addison
Sam Hardy ... Joe Reno
Tom Kennedy ... Officer Ryan
Warner Richmond ... Phelps - District Attorney's Man
Helen Ainsworth ... Vera - Society Editor (as Cupid Ainsworth)
Herbert Clark Herbert Clark ... Pells
Gertrude Sutton Gertrude Sutton ... Helen
James Donlan James Donlan ... Deke
George 'Gabby' Hayes ... Hoffman - Reporter (as George Hayes)
Vernon Steele ... Reporter
Clarence Wilson ... Coroner


Steve Banks is a hard-drinking newspaper reporter. His wife Margaret, a reporter for a rival paper, threatens to divorce him if he doesn't quit the drinking that is compromising his career. Steve pursues a story about drug dealers even when his editor fires him. When the editor is murdered, Steve is accused of the killing. But Steve has an ace up his sleeve that may save him from the electric chair. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Crime | Mystery







Release Date:

7 September 1929 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Pathé Exchange See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film's earliest documented telecast took place in New York City Tuesday 18 April 1950 on Four Star Theatre on WPIX (Channel 11). See more »


At the end of the picture, Margaret calls the city desk to phone in the big story, but she's already in the newsroom, where the city desk ought to be. However, Margaret works for a different paper, not the one whose newsroom she is in at the time. See more »

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User Reviews

Murder mystery with zingers
3 February 2015 | by lge-946-225487See all my reviews

The plot elements of this movie, in my mind, take second place to the repartee, or verbal fencing, that takes place among various characters. One character is always needling another; each tries to top the others in snarky insults. I suppose this is where the "comedy" label comes from.

For instance, there's the repartee among the various reporters on Robert Armstrong's newspaper. Cupid Ainsworth (a large fat woman) comes in, saying she's late because "I couldn't find a cab." Armstrong responds, "You mean you couldn't find one to fit you."

Ainsworth gives as good as she gets, however. When Armstrong comes back into the office after being bawled out by his wife, she says, "Well, well, well! Here comes the lion with the lamb's haircut!" (Ainsworth gives a very memorable performance in this movie, in my opinion.)

When Armstrong goes into the editor's office to get bawled out, Ainsworth cries, "Hold on boys, we're going around a curve!" (To me, that was better than Bette Davis' famous line, "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night!")

Tom Kennedy is in the movie, playing a cop. (I always think of Kennedy as Gahagan, from the Torchy Blane movies.) Armstrong refers to Kennedy as "Flatfoot," and he growls, "Lay off the puppies!"

Armstrong and his even-more-drunken buddy get into a battle of wits in a speakeasy with members of a drug-dealing gang. Armstrong says, "I recently heard of two hop-slingers who were punished by being put in a barrel with a skunk. Fortunately, the skunk died." His buddy responds, "He was probably bored to death by their repartee."

I think this movie has a quite adult sensibility as regards inter-personal relationships and conversation. (Adult meaning "adult," not "dirty.") It's not a Pollyanna or Hollywood sensibility -- there's friction and oneupmanship among various characters. That makes a refreshing change. Kennedy's cop role is also more adult than his slapstick-ish Gahagan roles. I like the whole tone and atmosphere of this movie.

I always enjoy seeing Armstrong, who is perhaps best known as the impresario who brought King Kong back from his island. He was a quite prolific actor, and always interesting.

George ("Gabby") Hayes is also here briefly, and I'm always fascinated to see him in a movie, beardless and in an adult, not slapstick-ish role.

In the end, the murder is pinned on the actual perpetrator (yay!), and Armstrong and his wife are reconciled. I like a movie with a happy ending, and to see justice is done.

This movie, to me, is enjoyable, adult, and fun every time I see it.

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