As you will see with this weekend’s Journalism in Classic Film Blogathon (hosted by Comet Over Hollywood and Lindsay’s Movie Musings), there are plenty of great movies that feature memorable journalists. Citizen Kane, His Girl Friday, All the President’s Men, just to name a few. But for me, my favorite reporters in movies were all from the pre-code era.
Clark Gable as Peter Warne in It Happened One Night
Now Peter Warne is a reporter who will go to any length to get a good story. And you gotta admit, he put up with a lot of nonsense from Ellie on their trip together. But when it comes down to it, Peter isn’t a greedy man. After falling in love with Ellie, he just wants to publish his story so he can have the money to marry her. And even when it looks like she’s left him to go back to Westley, he still doesn’t care about the huge reward. All he wants cares about is getting his expenses reimbursed.
Joan Crawford as Bonnie Jordan in Dance, Fools, Dance
Bonnie Jordan may be just a rookie reporter, but she also goes the extra mile for her job. When one of her fellow reporters is killed while investigating gangster Jake Luva (played by Clark Gable), her editor sends her to find out who is responsible for his death. So Bonnie takes a job dancing in Jake’s nightclub so she can get close to him. Of course, she ends up biting more than she can chew and even though she gets her story, she decides being a reporter just isn’t right for her after all. But you’ve certainly got to give her credit for giving it her all.
Glenda Farrell as Florence Dempsey in Mystery of the Wax Museum
You can always count on Glenda Farrell to bring plenty of sass to her characters and Mystery of the Wax Museum is no exception. Not only is Florence sassy, she can dig up stories on slow news days and is smart enough to figure out what’s really happening at the wax museum. Every newspaper needs a Florence Dempsey type on their staff.
James Cagney as Danny Keane in Picture Snatcher
Gotta love Danny Keane. After giving up being a gangster, he decides to pursue his lifelong dream of being a newspaper reporter. He doesn’t work at the best paper in town, but he makes the most of the opportunity. Danny is clever, resourceful, and not afraid to break the rules, so he excels at getting some hard-to-get pictures for the paper. Even though he’s not the most ethical journalist, he’s not cold and ruthless, either. When he goes too far on the job and ends up hurting the girl he’s fallen in love with, he feels just awful about it.
The wise-crackers of today just can’t hold a candle to the pre-code folks. Loved your post.
Clark Gable is certainly my favourite! It happened one night is so charming, and so well written. I’ve added Picture Snatcher to my must-watch list too! Thanks for sharing
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