"The Evening Gazette" is based on the real-life "New York Evening Graphic," the most sensational of all the "Front Page"-era tabloid papers (critics called it the Porno-Graphic). The paper, owned by Bernarr Macfadden, published from 1924-32. At the time this film was made the Graphic had been losing circulation, because its new editor had been trying to make it a more respectable paper, just like in the film. The paper was best known for its "composographs," composite photographs used to create an otherwise unobtainable illustration. Louis Weitzenkorn, who wrote the original play, had been a reporter and editor on the" Evening Graphic."
In September 1928 Warner Bros. Pictures purchased a majority interest in First National Pictures and from that point on, all "First National" productions were actually made under Warner Bros. control, even though the two companies continued to retain separate identities until the mid-'30s, after which "A Warner Bros.-First National Picture" logo was often used.
The play "Five Star Final" by Louis Weitzenkorn opened at the Cort Theatre in New York on 30 December 1930 and closed in June 1931 after 175 performances. The opening-night cast included Arthur Byron as Randall, Berton Churchill as Hinchecliffe, Frances Fuller as Jenny Townsend and Allen Jenkins as Ziggie Feinstein.
In Lux Video Theatre: Five Star Final (1954), Mae Clarke (I), best known for playing the prostitute in the famous "grapefruit scene" with James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931), played Nancy Voorhees Townsend. Joanne Woodward (I), then only 24, played her daughter Jenny.
Prior to its release, the film was attacked by censors as "exceedingly dangerous" due to its negative depiction of the press. The censors also objected to the character of Isopod (Boris Karloff). In the earlier drafts of the script, the character of Isopod is a defrocked Catholic priest who betrays his ministerial oath, frequents saloons, and sexually assaults a female reporter in a taxi cab. His role in the film was significantly revised to be less villainous.
Upon the film's release, press baron William Randolph Hearst deemed the film to be an assault upon his Hearst-owned newspapers known for their muck-raking stories and vicious tactics. Hearst pressured the mayor of Boston to ban the film and to issue a public statement decrying its "false" depiction of journalism.
After its premiere, the film was widely denounced in editorials by the editors and publishers of The Tarentum News, The Bridgeport Telegram, The Labor Advocate, The Knoxville Journal, The Springfield News-Leader, and The Binghamton Press, as well as the Hearst-owned newspapers, for its negative depiction of the journalistic profession.
One of 16 films that Boris Karloff made in 1931, the most famous being Frankenstein (1931).
The first time that Marian Marsh used this particular name on film. Previously, she had been known as Marilyn Morgan.