Saturday Night Cinema: Deadline — U. S. A.


Tonight’s Saturday Night Cinema is a film noir newspaper film, Humphrey Bogart is the traditionally intrepid big-city, big-sheet editor whose responsibility to his job, his corps of 1,500 fellow-workers on The Day (as this composite but mythical rag is called), and his moxie in locking horns with the No. 1 mobster, is chiefly sparked when one of his news staff gets beaten up by Martin Gabel’s gang.

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An abundance of subplots are expertly woven together by screenwriter/director Richard Brooks in Deadline – USA. Humphrey Bogart stars as crusading editor Ed Hutcheson, whose newspaper is on the verge of closing thanks to the machinations of the mercenary daughter (Audrey Christie) of Mrs. Garrison (Ethel Barrymore), the paper’s owner. Though he and his staff will all be out of work within a few days, Hutcheson intends to go out with a bang, exposing the criminal activities of “untouchable” gang boss Rienzi (Martin Gabel). Despite numerous disappointments and setbacks, Hutcheson achieves a pyrrhic victory as the film draws to a close. Throughout the story, the many pressures brought to bear upon a big-city newspaper–political, commercial, etc.–are realistically detailed, as is the relationship between Hutcheson and his ex-wife Nora (Kim Hunter). The cast of Deadline USA is uniformly excellent, from featured players Warren Stevens, Jim Backus, Paul Stewart Fay Baker and Ed Begley to such unbilled performers as Tom Browne Henry, Raymond Greenleaf, Tom Powers, and Kasia Orzazewski (essentially reprising her unforgettable characterization in Call Northside 777). More here.

‘ Deadline, U. S. A.,’ Humphrey Bogart as Crusading Editor, Opens at Roxy Theatre

By Bosley Crowther, New York Times, March 15, 1952:

That old bad boy, Humphrey Bogart, is working our side of the street in Twentieth Century-Fox’ and Richard Brooks’ “Deadline, U. S. A.” In this entangled melodrama, which came to the Roxy yesterday, the old tough is breathing fire and brimstone, as he has often done before, and the virulence of his aggression is bringing compounded trouble on his head. But he is doing so as a fighting champion of a free and invincible press. And, by George, the honesty of the effort rates a newspaper man’s applause.

Playing the managing editor of a well-set-up big city sheet that is about to be sold by its owners just to free their capital, Mr. Bogart makes a striking picture of an outraged and unrelenting man who fights on all fronts for his associates and for the perpetuation of an institution in which he believes.It may be the complications Mr. Brooks has contrived for him are a little too snarled for easy following and unqualified belief. After all, it is asking a good bit of an audience to keep straight in mind three separate lines of development of interrelated plots, let alone allow the likelihood of the coincidence of all of them.First, there’s the matter of our hero finagling to dissuade the owners of the sheet from selling it out, which requires top-level truck with owners and courts. Then there’s a little business of his trying to re-woo his ex-wife or, failing that, to discourage her from marrying another man. And finally there is the big job of masterminding a newspaper exposé of a crime syndicate operator who has just buffaloed a Senate probe. Jumping from one to the other keeps Mr. Bogart on the run. It also keeps the audience in a state of vertigo.But it has to be said for Mr. Bogart and for the writing and the direction of Mr. Brooks that, in spite of the melodramatic turmoil, they have brought forth a pretty straight m. e. What’s more, Mr. Brooks (who, they tell us, is an old newspaper man himself) has laid out a quite authentic picture of a-down-to-earth newspaper shop.To be sure, there is one rather soggy re-enactment of a newspaper “wake,” conducted by the reporters when they hear that their paper is doomed. (Mr. Brooks quite obviously based it on the deaths of The Boston Transcript and The New York World.) And at one point Mr. Bogart does burst into the city-room with a cry that is strongly reminiscent of the hackneyed “break open the front page!”

Withal, the honest looks and dispositions of newspaper people are in this film, from the gray heads of aging copyreaders to a standing scepticism toward cops. And a sense of the newsman’s strangely guarded dedication to his work is clear and keen.In the roles of editors and reporters, Ed Begley, Jim Backus, Paul Stewart, Warren Stevens and Audrey Christie are conspicuously flavorsome and good, while Ethel Barrymore gives a quiet and strong performance as the widow of the founder of the sheet. Martin Gabel draws a sinister portrait of an overlord of crime and Joseph De Santis is miserably noxious as an informer who is finally done in.

Really good newspaper pictures are few and far between. This one, while melodramatic, does all right by the trade.On the stage at the Roxy are Gloria De Haven, the Norma Miller Dancers, Veronica Martell, Noonan and Marshall, the Spitalny Singers and the Gae Foster Roxyettes.

DEADLINE, U. S. A., written and directed by Richard Brooks; produced by Sol C. Siegel for Twentieth Century-Fox Pictures. At the Roxy Theatre.Ed Hutcheson . . . . . Humphrey BogartMrs. Garrison . . . . . Ethel BarrymoreNora . . . . . Kim HunterFrank Allen . . . . . Ed BegleyBurrows . . . . . Warren StevensThompson . . . . . Paul StewartRienzi . . . . . Martin GabelSchmidt . . . . . Joseph De SantisKitty Garrison Geary . . . . . Joyce MacKenzieMrs. Willebrandt . . . . . Audrey ChristieAlice Garrison Courtney . . . . . Fay BakerCleary . . . . . Jim BackusCrane . . . . . Carleton YoungWilliams . . . . . Selmer JacksonMrs. Schmidt . . . . . Kasia Orzazewski

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