1 August 2012 | Michael_Elliott
Great Idea but Poorly Told
The Famous Ferguson Case (1932)
** (out of 4)
A great idea is pretty much wasted due to a weak screenplay in this melodrama from Warner. Wall Street big shot Ferguson is shot and murdered inside his summer home and his wife (Vivienne Osborne) tells the police that she was tied up by some robbers. The case gets some of the biggest newspaper reporters in the country and soon they're putting the pieces together without any evidence and they think the better story would be that Mrs. Ferguson's rumored lover (Leon Ames) was behind the killing in an attempt for them two to knock off the husband. THE FAMOUS FERGUSON CASE kicks off with a prologue warning newspapers about not seeking the truth and instead coming up with fake stories to sell papers. It seems this warning would be even more understandable in 2012 but sadly the film takes a rather interesting story and does very little with it. I think the idea of showing how crooked reporters are could have made for a very interesting story but sadly the screenplay here comes off rather lazy at times and by the time the film's over it's just a tad bit too much to believe. The biggest problem is that the prosecutor here is just so downright stupid that he allows the reporters to pretty much tell him who to charge, tell him what happened and he's also dumb enough to have the reporters write his court speeches. This here is just so sloppily written that I didn't believe the situation for a second. Another problem is that the film clearly wants to get its message across and there's just a tad bit too much preaching instead of actually delivering a strong story to get the point across. The entire cast offers up very good performances but I'd say Joan Blondell is pretty much wasted in her role. Tom Brown is very good as the one good reporter trying to learn the truth and Adrienne Dore is good as his partner who starts to get a big head for fame. Ames is extremely good as the man drawn into this mess. The film picks up a little speed towards the end and this includes a terrifically directed sequence where the reporters are confronted by someone they've damaged. I won't spoil what happens but it's quite powerful but it's a shame the rest of the film wasn't this strong.