THE FINAL EDITION is a very enjoyable entry in the long line of newspaper movies I've watched so far this year. It provides a strong role for Mae Clarke as a fearless newswoman.
Clarke plays Anne Woodman, a reporter on the Bulletin. Anne's on-again, off-again boyfriend is also her editor, Sam Bradshaw (Pat O'Brien).
When a crusading Police Commissioner (Wallis Clark) is murdered, Anne is determined to get the story. Her enterprising detective work leads her to Sid Malvern (Bradley Page), the assassin, and some incriminating papers. When Malvern discovers Anne is on to him, her life is in danger...
THE FINAL EDITION has a good script with some sharp lines and nicely done wisecracks. (References to coke and heroin are among the giveaways that this film is a pre-Code.) The story moves along at a brisk pace, wrapping up in 66 minutes. Despite the short running time, O'Brien and Clarke do a good job putting some color into what otherwise might be stock characters.
O'Brien is relatively understated as the news editor, and he tends to recede into the background as a supporting character, while Clarke is the one who drives the movie's action. This is Clarke's film all the way, as she eavesdrops on the commissioner's widow (Bertha Mann) giving key information to the police, then follows Malvern to his vacation hideout, luring him with a ladylike "come hither" act and a black bathing suit.
It's a particularly good role for Clarke, seen by me this year in THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931), THREE WISE GIRLS (1932), and LADY KILLER (1933). Her "innocent" act in the final sequence, after being caught redhanded with the crooks' incriminating papers, is quite funny, as she insists on correcting the men's grammar while they threaten her.
It was rather interesting comparing this film to the later FRONT PAGE WOMAN (1935) with George Brent and Bette Davis. O'Brien as the editor in THE FINAL EDITION is more respectful of the female reporter's abilities in this, yet at the end Clarke suddenly announces that reporting is too stressful and she'd like to take O'Brien up on his marriage proposal. It's rather ironic that Clarke bluntly quits, meanwhile in FRONT PAGE WOMAN, George Brent hounds Bette Davis to quit throughout the film, yet ultimately seems open to them continuing to work together.
Howard Higgin. It was shot by Joseph Walker. The supporting cast includes James Donlan, Robert Emmett O'Connor, Mary Doran, and Morgan Wallace.
This movie is not available on DVD or VHS. It can be seen on Turner Classic Movies.
"Newspaper" films previously reviewed this year: THE LAWLESS (1950), TRY AND GET ME (1950), HIGH TIDE (1947), PICTURE SNATCHER (1933), JOHNNY COME LATELY (1943), APPOINTMENT WITH A SHADOW (1957), THE SELLOUT (1952), IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934), and FRONT PAGE WOMAN (1935).