Both "Scandal for Sale" and "Five Star Final" were based on the 1920s' New York Evening Graphic, this one from a novel by the first editor, 5*Final from a play by his successor. The paper's Broadway gossip columnist Walter Winchell inspired "Blessed Event" and more. See more »
Charles Bickford plays the lead in a snappy little precode about a reporter ambitious to make it in the yellow journalism business. The scene opens on a woman who bursts in on her lover and beats her rival to death with a hammer. Pat O'Brien, as reporter Waddell, pretends to be with the D.A.'s office and takes the woman from the scene back to his newspaper's office so that he and reporter Jerry Strong (Charles Bickford) can get the whole story from her. The paper has a great lead story, but the big boss kills it because of the salacious angle. Jerry then quits in anger because he claims the boss wants to run an almanac, not a newspaper and takes his close friend and associate Waddell along for the ride.
Jerry has a nice little house and yard and a loving wife and two kids, but uproots everyone so he can build up a failing paper as a successful scandal sheet in New York City. His wife and kids live in cramped conditions in a small flat and are materially cared for but largely emotionally neglected as Jerry chases and lives his dream, ultimately at great personal cost.
Charles Bickford is largely forgotten today. He had some good leads in the early talkie era such as this one, but was largely relegated to character roles by the end of the 30's. Pat O'Brien is playing the fast-talking best friend in this one, but I could just as easily have seen O'Brien in the lead given his precode roles over at Warner Brothers later on. Keep an eye out for Glenda Farrell, another Warner player, as the murderess with the hammer at the beginning of the film. She only has a few lines here.
Highly recommended as one of the rarely seen non-horror pre-codes from Universal.
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