Deadline – U.S.A. (1952)

Deadline USA (1952)
Deadline USA Deadline – U.S.A. (1952)

Run time: 87 min
Rating: 7.2
Genres: Crime | Drama
Director: Richard Brooks
Writers: Richard Brooks
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ethel Barrymore, Kim Hunter
Bogart is the editor of a large city paper who has to fight the underworld while keeping his papers publisher (Barrymore) from throwing in the towel and selling out.  Barrymore is superb and Bogie is terrific as he carries the day.
Release Date: 14 March 1952 (USA)

4 responses to “Deadline – U.S.A. (1952)”

  1. rgkeenan says:

    Deadline – U.S.A. has Humphrey Bogart as the editor of a big city newspaper that is in the process of being sold to a Rupert Murdoch like chain that publishes scandal sheets. His paper is in the process at the same time of doing an expose of notorious racketeer Martin Gabel.

    And if that ain't enough for Bogey his wife Kim Hunter is splitting from him. It's the usual story, she can't stand having him married to her and the paper as well.

    Growing up in New York in the Fifties we had several newspapers, each vying for a smaller readership. I remember we had the Times, News, Post, Herald Tribune, World-Telegram&Sun, Journal-American, and the Daily Mirror. Some of those you can see are the products of consolidation, there were more in the past. After a printer's strike in the sixties most of them went out of business.

    The papers were competing for a shrinking share of readership. In the previous generation, radio competed with the print media and I grew up with that new phenomenon of television. Today we are seeing the effects of the Internet as the individual's primary source for news.

    The gangster part of the plot gets started with the discovery of the body of a Virginia Hill like moll, the former mistress of Martin Gabel. While some of the scandal sheets cover the sensational aspects of the murder of a glamor girl, Bogey's paper does some serious investigative reporting and uncovers a lot of evidence. Their work also has consequences including the maiming of young reporter Warren Stevens.

    In the meantime the heirs of the newspaper's original founder are looking to sell the paper. Opposing it is their mother, Ethel Barrymore and she has a fine part and is obviously the model for the widow publisher played by Nancy Marchand in Lou Grant. She has one classic scene with Humphrey Bogart where they commiserate over their mutual problems.

    Deadline – U.S.A. is a realistic look at the life of a big city paper in days gone by. It's a gritty piece of nostalgia, as timely in its day as The Front Page was in the Twenties. Cast members like Paul Stewart, Jim Backus, and Ed Begley look and feel right at home at their jobs.

    The film is recommended particularly for younger viewers who are glued to their computers and television to see how a newspaper functioned back in the day.

  2. rgkeenan says:

    A very good movie about The Day, a newspaper publishing its last editions, and its aggressive attack on a known mobster. Humphrey Bogart does an excellent job as the editor, and Ethel Barrymore gives a wonderful, regal performance as the widow of the publisher, whose daughters are now demanding that the paper be sold to a competitor.

    The film brings up, a mere 53 years ago, issues that are relevant today – the tabloids versus real, factual news, and the meaning of a free press. These debates continue today, but unfortunately, it seems that the tabloid type of journalism is winning. As for a free press – our press might be freer than many, but it isn’t entirely free. As anyone who lost money in the great savings and loan scandal can tell you, important stories disappear from the front pages all the time.

    Bogart’s strong performance is the engine that keeps this film going, and there’s a nice performance by Kim Hunter as his ex-wife. Deadline USA reminds us of the good old days, when you could believe what you read in the New York Times.

  3. rgkeenan says:

    Bob Greene of the Chicago Tribune has called this the best journalism movie ever made. He is absolutely right.

    If you are interested in art movies, see Citizen Kane. If you are interested in screwball comedy, check out His Girl Friday. If it’s history you’re after, watch All the Presidents Men. If you want to see a classic journalism movie, rent one of the multiple versions of The Front Page.

    But if you want to see a movie that actually shows you what life is like inside a newsroom, how reporters work together to get a story, and how "the story" is not always about the big expose but sometimes just about getting the little details right, this is your movie.

    You can also watch Ron Howard’s The Paper, but it’s a pale imitation of this movie.

    Unfortunately, this movie is not available on video or DVD. Keep an eye on American Movie Classics or one of the other cable channels, though, since it is regularly featured.

  4. rgkeenan says:

    A really great movie for one of Bogart's last pictures. His character is hard-nosed, but low key, a man who doesn't feel the need to prove how tough he is. An excellent supporting cast includes such reliable actors as Paul Stewart, Ed Begley,and Jim Backus as newspaper staff, with Joe DeSantis as the weaselly crook in hiding. Ethel Barrymore is superb as the widow of the paper's founder, watching as her obnoxious daughters sell off the paper they care nothing about. Martin Gabel hits just the right note as mob boss Rienzi, smiling and affable one minute, snarling and growling threats seconds later.

    One of the best scenes has Rienzi pick up Bogart's editor Hutchinson off the street and offer him a drink in his luxurious limousine. Bogart asks half seriously if he's being ' taken for a ride', and Rienzi claims he's not a gangster. Moments later, Rienzi loses his temper and smacks Hutchinson in the face. Hutchinson smiles that crooked Bogart grin and says, " That's more like it", telling Rienzi he's showing his true colors at last. The would be respectable businessman is nothing more than a gangster, after all.

    This movie is both an antique, in the way it shows how big city dailies were still operating fifty years ago, and surprisingly up to date in its concern with how the public often doesn't really care about the news, and that a lot of what's packaged as news is just entertainment. Bogart's great speech at the hearing to determine the paper's future is a rouser, as he talks about the importance of a free press.

    This movie deserves a wider audience on home video than its occasional cable TV showings. It's a great Bogart vehicle, and a fascinating story of the newspaper business, and just a fine picture in general.

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