Scandal Sheet (1952)

scandal_sheet_xlgScandal Sheet (1952)
AKA The Dark Page

Starring Broderick Crawford, Donna Reed, John Derek, Rosemary DeCamp, Henry O’Neill, Harry Morgan, James Millican, Griff Barnett

Directed by Phil Karlson

Expectations: Fairly high.


At this point in my review series on the writing and story credits of Sam Fuller (that he did not direct), I’ve learned to expect few returns. The films rarely recall the work of Sam Fuller himself, as his fiery style had usually been watered down by a few studio writers before the films made it to the screen. But right from the opening scene, Scandal Sheet evokes the spirit of Fuller’s work. It definitely doesn’t feel like something Fuller made or anything, but there is a raw, pulpy vibe that will likely satisfy all but the most critical Fuller fans.

One of these critics was apparently Sam Fuller himself, as the film’s only mention in his memoir, A Third Face, is to quickly dismiss it as “disappointing.” I have no doubt that to Fuller Scandal Sheet was indeed a total disappointment. The film was based upon his first novel, The Dark Page, which he finished writing right before leaving for the front lines of World War II. While overseas, he learned that his mother had been successful in finding a publisher for the novel, and later (while Fuller was still at war) the novel’s film rights were sold to Howard Hawks, who hoped to direct a film version starring Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson.

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Park Row (1952)

Starring Gene Evans, Mary Welch, Bela Kovacs, Herbert Heyes, Tina Pine, George O’Hanlon, J.M. Kerrigan, Forrest Taylor, Don Orlando, Neyle Morrow, Dick Elliott, Stuart Randall, Dee Pollock, Hal K. Dawson

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: Extremely high. I’ve built this one up in my mind to be one of the greatest and most anticipated films I haven’t seen yet.

In Sam Fuller’s awesome auto-biography, A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting and Filmmaking, he relates the story of how he tried to sell Daryl Zanuck on the idea of making Park Row (Fuller was contracted with Zanuck at the time with a multi-picture deal). Zanuck always shot it down, and in the final plea, Zanuck suggested that it would be a better movie as a big CinemaScope musical. Sam Fuller wanted the film to reflect the reality of the newspaper industry and singing newsman doesn’t really fit that bill. Fuller then states, “I decided that the only way to make Park Row was to put up my own dough and produce it myself. Two hundred grand, to be exact. To hell with Zanuck and Fox! Fuck the entire studio system! My film was going to be a gift to American journalism.” This shows just how personal and important the film was to him, and boy does it ever show in the finished product.

Park Row is set in the 1880s on the titular street that the newspapers of New York call home. Our lead is the hard-nosed newsman Phineas Mitchell played by Gene Evans, truly one of the greatest unsung actors of his generation. At the outset of the film he is employed by The Star, the oldest paper in New York and run by Charity Hackett (Mary Welch). She inherited the job and therefore doesn’t know or care to know about true journalistic integrity. Fueled by the recent hanging of a man, Evans uses the power of words to start a shitstorm with Hackett. This gets him fired but it leads to the greatest opportunity of his career, starting up his own paper, The Globe.

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