Five Star Final (1931)

Not Rated   |    |  Crime, Drama


Five Star Final (1931) Poster

The City Editor of a sleazy tabloid goes against his own journalistic ethics to resurrect a twenty year old murder case... with tragic results.


7.2/10
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  • Five Star Final (1931)
  • Edward G. Robinson and Ona Munson in Five Star Final (1931)
  • Edward G. Robinson in Five Star Final (1931)
  • Five Star Final (1931)
  • Five Star Final (1931)

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22 May 2009 | morrisonhimself
9
| Some great dialogue, some strongly emotional acting
Contra Jesse Jackson, there are too many Christians in New York – but apparently not in the newspaper business.

One can take this movie as a parable, only slightly exaggerated perhaps, of the entire "news" media.

Although some of the dialogue is somewhat corny, by today's standards, anyway, much of the rest is chilling, or infuriating, or heart-breaking, by turns.

Aline MacMahon, whose character told the messenger boy not to change his name, and followed with the line in the first paragraph, has one of her best roles, and she is terrific.

Edward G. Robinson, as the managing editor, tells her she is the visible conscience, and he brings powerful emotion to his role.

Marian Marsh has the movie-stealing scene, one of power and heartbreak and possibly her best performance in her three-decades-long career. You'll find her character justified even while you're urging her not to do what she threatens.

There is a generally superb cast, including Boris Karloff, whose playing is – as usual – often over the top, but in his last scene, without words, he makes one wonderful move that deserves applause.

Taken to task for a story that has given tabloid-sized "news" papers their tawdry reputation, and, in fact, made the very word "tabloid" a synonym for that kind of garbage, the publisher tries to say that papers transcend the individual.

In other words, phooey on individuals; we want to boost circulation no matter who, or what, gets hurt.

In truth, such publications, and, in fact, all the so-called mainstream "news" media have been all too willing to stomp on individuals and, in fact, on the entire country, in order to have a scoop, a ratings coup, or a jump in circulation.

Granted, most wouldn't have stooped to quite the low of the paper in this story, but the ultimate end is not much different.

It's been not quite 80 years since "Five Star Final," and daily papers are dying like the proverbial flies, all over the country – and many people are just nodding and saying "about time."

Remember the period and the context, and pay close attention to "Five Star Final." It has something to say, and says it extremely well.

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