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In New York's 1880's newspaper district a dedicated journalist manages to set up his own paper. It is an immediate success but attracts increasing opposition from one of the bigger papers and its newspaper heiress owner. Despite the fact he rather fancies the lady the newsman perseveres with the help of the first Linotype machine, invented on his premises, while also giving a hand with getting the Statue of Liberty erected.Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Self-financed by its maverick director. At the time, Samuel Fuller had only $201,000 in his bank account. He kept $1,000 for his own personal use, which he spent on cigars and vodka. The rest went on the movie. See more »
Sam Fuller was a newspaperman in his younger days. This is his love letter to his earlier craft, with a full dose of Fuller filmmaking prowess.
I doubt that Fuller was ever well-budgeted. He made do, and boy did he.
The office of the paper is a tight web of cubicles (that are torn down at one point) that cast dark shadows and patches of light. Fuller allows his camera to capture repeated black and white shadow portraits of the characters, their emotion forming the full frame of a shot.
At other points, the camera tours the tiny den as characters move through it as if it were dancing a marvelous ballet Outside is a square, statues of Benjamin Franklin and Horace Greeley and a narrow street allegedly populated by newspapers.
This is all Fuller has to work with, but he makes it work so that even though your subconscious is saying, well, that doesn't look quite realistic, your movie viewing buys in and ignores the tells, absorbing the essence of the scene. Terrific film craft, more than just cinematography.
Can't argue the storyline is up to the filmmaking, but there are touches that Fuller sprinkles throughout that are marvelous.
The newly found paper buys its paper from the butcher. On the floor is a box of unsorted type. It took me back to junior high school in upstate New York, where for a marking period, we had print shop and learned to sort our type and grab it to compose a line in a hand-held device.
There's Otto Morgenthaler, a character borrowed from history, who actually did invent the linotype machine and first use it at the New York Tribune, which is referred to as a competing paper in the film.
The statue of Benjamin Franklin is still there, at the end of Park Row. At one time, the street held The New York World in the Pulitzer Building, Greeley's New York Tribune, The New York Times at #41, the Mail and Express, the Recorder, the Morning Advertiser, and the only other survivor, The Daily News at #25.
In the story, set in 1880s, AP is referred to. The concentration of papers eventually led to the Associated Press, located on Park Row, but that wasn't until 1900.
In the next decade, the landscape was dramatically altered with the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. It not only cast its shadow over Park Row, but also caused some of its buildings to be demolished for ramp space to the bridge.
Why were the newspapers all there? Strangely, it's never mentioned in the film. Park Row is right around the corner from City Hall, the NYC Police Headquarters and the financial district. That's a pretty good nexus for news.
This one doesn't pop up very often. If you find it, watch and enjoy.
(My ratings are usually to the next highest star. In this case, about 7.5)
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