Beyond 'Page One': 5 Underrated Newspaper Movies

The best depictions of ink-stained wretches outside of Citizen Kane and His Girl Friday

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Page One: Inside the New York Times increases its circulation today. The documentary, which follows a handful of journalists on the Gray Lady's media desk, opened on the paper's Manhattan home turf last Friday, and begins expanding to select territories beyond the island this weekend. While the doc might capture the paper at a unique transitional moment in print media, the film calls to mind the grand tradition of big-screen power-of-the-press fictions (not least because one editor followed in Page One has a Citizen Kane poster on his office wall).

Some of the most highly regarded films of all time—Kane, La Dolce Vita, and Sweet Smell of Success among them—deal with the down-and-dirty business of the broadsheet. Still more classics cast reporters-at-large as de facto detectives (Call Northside 777, for example) or romantic interlopers (Frank Capra's It Happened One Night and countless subsequent films in which love blooms between correspondent and source). And last summer, Manhattan-based Film Forum mounted an entire "Newspaper Picture" series, including many intriguing titles—most of them from the '30s and '40s—not widely available to rent.

Daily-paper sagas anchored in the office are a somewhat rarer breed than those types of films mentioned above, though His Girl Friday, All the President's Men, and Zodiac do weave in and out of the bustling urban newsroom. But there are also a number of less discussed features that spend significant time in the bullpen trenches, showing reporters and editors as they craft bombshell ledes, usually to expose some dastardly instance of municipal malfeasance. Below is a list of five such underrated movies, all available on home video.

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Benjamin Mercer has written on film for The Village Voice, The New York Sun, The L Magazine, and Reverse Shot. He is a copy editor at Bookforum. More

He has also copyedited for two New York dailies: The New York Sun and amNewYork.

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