The City Editor of a sleazy tabloid goes against his own journalistic ethics to resurrect a twenty year old murder case... with tragic results.


Mervyn LeRoy


Louis Weitzenkorn (based on the play by), Byron Morgan (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Edward G. Robinson ... Joseph W. Randall
Marian Marsh ... Jenny Townsend
H.B. Warner ... Michael Townsend
Anthony Bushell ... Phillip Weeks
George E. Stone ... Ziggie Feinstein
Frances Starr ... Nancy 'Voorhees' Townsend
Ona Munson ... Kitty Carmody
Boris Karloff ... T. Vernon Isopod
Aline MacMahon ... Miss Taylor
Oscar Apfel ... Bernard Hinchecliffe
Purnell Pratt ... Robert French
Robert Elliott ... R. J. Brannegan


Hinchcliffe, the ruthless publisher of a sleazy New York tabloid, is concerned that the ethical journalistic policies of City Editor Randall have caused a drop in circulation. He pressures the newsman to run more sensational stories including resurrecting the twenty year old Vorhees Murder Case. Although the perpetrator's actions were ultimately judged justifiable, and she has been subsequently living an exemplary life in anonymity, Hunchcliffe insists Randall revisit the story. Randall assigns Isopod, an alcoholic degenerate, to dig up anything lurid that he find. The unprincipled reporter fraudulently insinuates himself into the Vorhees' home masquerading as a minister and gets the expose he sought. Yellow journalism triumphs, and a decent woman's name gets dragged through the mud again... with tragic consequences. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


IT CRASHES THROUGH to the LOFTIEST HEIGHTS EVER REACHED by the MOST IMMORTAL GENIUS OF SCREEN or STAGE..! (Print ad- New York Sun, ((New York NY)) 11 September 1931) See more »


Crime | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


In Lux Video Theatre: Five Star Final (1954), Mae Clarke (I), best known for playing the prostitute in the famous "grapefruit scene" with James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931), played Nancy Voorhees Townsend. Joanne Woodward (I), then only 24, played her daughter Jenny. See more »


In the 1931 newspaper photo of Nancy Voorhees during her trial 20 years earlier, she is wearing 1931 clothes, not 1911 clothes, as she should have been. See more »


Joseph W. Randall: You think this Voorhees story is a pretty filthy mess, don't you?
Miss Taylor: I think that woman's suffered enough... Can't you see what this might do to her family? Oh, you oughta' be ashamed of yourself.
Joseph W. Randall: No, I been in this game too long to be ashamed of myself. I'm gonna' be *one* newspaperman that gets out of this business with enough money to get me a decent old age.
See more »


Remade as Two Against the World (1936) See more »


Let Me Call You Sweetheart
(1910) (uncredited)
Music by Leo Friedman
Played on the phonograph
See more »

User Reviews

Despite its age, the film still is relevant today
6 June 2005 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

It's amazing to see that the sleazy tabloids we deal with today are not that different from the one portrayed in this picture. They will do ANYTHING and sink to ANY depths to cover a story--especially if it includes sleaze, innuendo and outright lies. In this case, they resurrect an old story and destroy an innocent woman just to sell a few more papers--resulting in a horrible tragedy that was completely preventable.

Although some of the supporting cast is only fair, the lead played by Edward G. Robinson is what makes the picture. He is a pig living in the filth his readers want until he and his paper just push too far and Robinson can no longer live with himself. His rather histrionic reaction is amazing to watch--not so over the top but just full of fury and intensity. A must see little sleeper of a film.

FYI--Humphrey Bogart did a very good remake of this movie a few years later ("Two Against the World"). It's also very good but I would advise seeing the Robinson version first--after all, in most cases the original is better than the remake and this is no exception.

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Release Date:

26 September 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Five Star Final See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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