Death Valley Days (1952–1970)
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The Paper Dynasty 

William Randolph Hearst has big plans to make The Examiner the most successful newspaper in San Francisco. But big plans have a high price tag, and although he increases circulation Hearst still finds it difficult to turn a profit.


Christian Nyby


P.K. Palmer


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Episode cast overview:
James Hampton ... William Randolph Hearst
Robert Cornthwaite ... Sam Chamberlain
Henry Beckman ... Michael Tarpey
Lory Patrick ... Winifred Sweet
James Lanphier James Lanphier ... Ambrose Bierce
Barry Kelley ... George Hearst
Michele Montau Michele Montau ... Sarah Bernhardt
Guy De Vestel Guy De Vestel ... Maitre d'
Stanley Andrews ... Old Ranger


William Randolph Hearst has big plans to make The Examiner the most successful newspaper in San Francisco. But big plans have a high price tag, and although he increases circulation Hearst still finds it difficult to turn a profit.

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Release Date:

1 March 1964 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


TV debut of James Hampton. See more »

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User Reviews

Citizen Kane in a new light
8 January 2015 | by BrianDanaCampSee all my reviews

"The Paper Dynasty" is an episode of the long-running series, "Death Valley Days," and offers a historical snapshot of young aspiring newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst (James Hampton) and his attempt to turn the money-losing San Francisco Examiner around in 1887. His father, Senator George Hearst (Barry Kelley), the paper's owner, gives young "Willie" a year to make it pay for itself. Hearst hires the renowned writer Ambrose Bierce (James Lanphier) as a reporter to do investigative pieces and a young former actress, henceforth known as "Annie Laurie" (Lory Patrick), as a "sob sister" to capture human interest stories. The paper goes after big targets, including some of the powerful citizens in the wealthy Nob Hill district and the railroad companies, backers of Hearst's father. One of the interview subjects of a lighter series is none other than the great actress Sarah Bernhardt (played in one brief scene by Michele Montau). When the year is up and the paper is still losing money, things look bad for its future.

It's a low-budget endeavor with most scenes taking place indoors and most of the action played out in Hearst's office at the Examiner, but the acting is good and the portrayal of Hearst as a crusader for a free and uninhibited press is something of a novelty given the way Hearst is usually depicted. It's all reminiscent of the celebrated sequence in CITIZEN KANE (1941) where Kane, who was partly based on Hearst, declares, "I think it would be fun to run a newspaper," and moves in with his crew to take over the paper, much to the dismay of Walter Parks Thatcher, Kane's guardian. When Thatcher later laments the loss of a million dollars a year on the paper, Kane responds, "You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place in...60 years."

"The Paper Dynasty" was shown in color, although IMDb lists it as being in black-and-white. I saw it on January 8, 2015 on the Encore Western Channel, which began showing "Death Valley Days" on January 2, 2015. The print looked really sharp and the color quite beautiful. So far, all the episodes shown are from the 12th season (1963-64) and all have been in color, despite IMDb's insistence that Season 13 (Fall 1964) was the first in color. And these episodes were clearly photographed in color, not colorized. Curiously, Encore Western is showing the series in a "window-boxed" format, meaning black bars on top, bottom and both sides. The entire image is visible, but smaller than it should be, making my 32-inch Sony Bravia TV, to all intents and purposes, a 21-inch screen when this series is shown. The channel shows other 4X3 series in the proper aspect ratio (filling the frame top to bottom, with black borders on the sides), e.g. "Wanted Dead or Alive," so I don't understand why this series is treated differently. If the series ever comes out on DVD, I'd be happy to purchase it.

For the record, this episode was directed by Christian Nyby, noted for his directing credit on the Howard Hawks production, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951). One of the cast members from that film, Robert Cornthwaite, plays Sam Chamberlain, Hearst's managing editor, in this episode.

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