User Reviews (4)

Add a Review

  • An interesting Paramount film from 1937 teaming a petulant Frances Farmer and low-key Fred MacMurray as quarreling lovers working for competing newspapers. Charlie Ruggles, as Farmer's father, adds equal doses of slapstick humor and poignancy. The film veers fairly wildly in tone, including jabs at yellow journalism, racketeering and the self-righteous attitudes of some press-people, while working in bits about that oft-quoted conundrum--how do you know for sure that a refrigerator's light goes out when you close the door? Farmer's character is pretty unlikeable, putting down her father, working for a gangster to spite her boyfriend, etc., but she pulls off the role with the panache typical of her early work. In the weird-but-real synchronicity department, a bit actor by the name of William (Billy) Arnold plays a reporter in the film. Farmer fans will know that another "real" reporter named William Arnold made headlines decades later with his sensationalized (and some claim fictionalized) account of Farmer's life.
  • lugonian20 January 2019
    EXCLUSIVE (Paramount, 1937), directed by Alexander Hall, hence its title, is a newspaper story taken from the play credited by John C. Moffitt. Following the pattern of journalism on film with such titles as "The Front Page" (1931), "The Final Edition" (1932), "Exclusive Story" (1936) or "Back in Circulation" (1937), among many others, EXCLUSIVE is one of those long unseen forgotten ones that's as good as it appears. Starring Fred MacMurray and Frances Farmer for the first and only time, it also features Charlie Ruggles, better known for comedy, being more serious here as an aging reporter sporting wire glasses and mustache. With the story belonging to MacMurray, co-stars Frances Farmer and Lloyd Nolan hold their own with their attention-grabbing performances.

    Set in the town of Mountain City, reporters at The World newspaper await for the jury verdict of racketeer Charles Gillette (Lloyd Nolan). With the upset going for "not guilty," Ralph Houston (Fred MacMurray), the assistant city editor, knows the jury must have been bribed. Entering the newsroom along with his henchmen, the ever confident Gillette comes up with the news for Colonel Bogardus (Edward H. Robins), the newspaper owner; Horace Mitchell (Ralph Morgan) a candidate for mayor and Mr. Franklin (Willard Robertson), owner of the Franklin Department Store, of his forming a rival newspaper nearby called The Sentinel. Now the head man there, Gillette offers to hire The World employees, doubling their current salaries. Ralph turns down his offer of $200 a week because dirty or "yellow" journalism isn't in his league. Tod Swain (Charles Ruggles), his partner and close friend, however, is tempted with his $100 a week, but refuses as well. Ralph is engaged to Tod's daughter, Vina (Frances Farmer), who has just quit her present job. When she learns of Ralph's refusal for the additional money so they can get married, she becomes upset. Learning from her father of Ralph secretly put his own money for her college education, Vina decides to pay him back by working for Gillette at top salary. However, Ralph disapproves of Vina's association with Gillette as her boss. An argument ensues forcing Vina to call off their engagement. Vina becomes an exceptional reporter doing undercover work, exposing stories on Gillette's enemies. On in particular being Horace Mitchell, whose past has been exposed that ruins his chances campaigning for mayor. Following Mitchell's confrontation with Vina, she finds herself unable to go through with her tabloid reporting, but Gillette talks her out of it. Eventually Vina gets too deep with her story material on defective elevators from the Franklin Departmnent Store that she gets sued for libel. To prove her story true, Beak McArdel (Horace MacMahon), one of Gillette's henchmen, fixes an elevator to fall, injuring numerous passengers, including Ralph. Afraid of being exposed, Gillette sends Vina on an out of town assignment with Beak as her "bodyguard." Realizing what truly happening, Tod finds Vina's life could be in danger.

    Featured in the supporting cast are: Fay Holden (Mrs. Effie Swain); Harlan Briggs (Springer); Chester Clute (Garner, a bill collector for the Strand Credit Company); and Irving Bacon (Doctor Boomgarten). Look fast for Billy Lee (Billy McArdel) and Libby Taylor (The Maid) in smaller roles. Charlie Ruggles stands out among the others as a drunken, middle-aged reporter. Aside from getting a black eye from one of the thugs early in the story, he gets his moment of glory demonstrating to the equally drunken Ralph (MacMurray) whether or not the light bulb inside the refrigerator remains on after closing the door by having Ralph sit inside the refrigerator to find out. This plays better than it reads, yet humorous scenes such as this lighten the tension, but often unbalances the dramatic texture of the story. Fay Holden, better known as Emily Hardy in the "Andy Hardy" family series for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, performs familiar duties as both wife and mother to Ruggles and Farmer's characters. Lloyd Nolan, who can play good guys or comedic detectives in believable manner, demonstrates his ability here as the villain who would stop at nothing to ruin his enemies, even by using the girlfriend of a rival reporter who refuses to be intimidated by him. Though Farmer's character is both tempermental and naive, her Vina, eager to better herself, does so for the wrong reasons working for a racketeer to earn some easy money. By not doing this, however, there would be no story with added suspense.

    Not regularly broadcast on commercial television in decades, and unseen on New York City television since it's final broadcast in 1972 on WPIX, Channel 11, EXCLUSIVE, happens to be one of the finer newspaper dramas to come out in the 1930s, and one that should still be entertaining for its fine acting, good story, and fast-pace direction during its 78 minutes. -30- (***).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Two rival newspaper editors try to scoop each other through their different methods of integrity on reporting the news. Fred MacMurray strives for the truth, while Lloyd Nolan strives for tabloid style headlines to shoot each edition off of the stands like a newspaper airplane. Standing between them is ambitious Frances Farmer who hasn't gotten a tumble from longtime beau Fred MacMurray for getting a job, so she goes to work for Nolan. Her first story is a sensation, exposing political candidate Ralph Morgan as an ex-con. MacMurray tries to get her on the straight and narrow with little success until tragedy threatens to open Farmer's eyes to the evils of tabloid journalism.

    Excellent acting drives this mixture of serious drama and screwball comedy, featuring charlie Ruggles as Farmer's dad, a veteran reporter disgusted by her daughter's betrayal of MacMurray, getting drunk in several scenes and even locking MacMurray in a refrigerator in his efforts to prove that the light goes out when the door is closed.

    While there have been several screwball comedies that succeeded as message films, this is not one of them. The comedy is intermittent, and overall, this is more dramatic. Farmer, better as a serious actress, tries to get laughs, but when they happen with her, it is from the situation rather than her acting. MacMurray is excellent in both comedy and drama, but it is Ruggles who comes off best here, both funny and touching. "Ma Hardy" (Fay Holden) plays his wife, not quite as cheery, but every inch the mom. There is a riveting man-hunt at the end that may have you clawing your seat due to the severe tension.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    With Easter coming up,I started to search around for movies that I could give to my dad as an Easter gift,and I was happy to find that a DVD seller had recently tracked down a rare Comedy starring Fred MacMurray.With only previously knowing about Frances Farmer for being named in a song title by Grunge group Nirvana,I felt that it would be a good time to find out what the exclusive is.

    The plot:

    Getting found not guilty, Charles Gillette decides to place a takeover bid for the city's leading tabloid newspaper. Receiving news that Gillette's bid has been accepted,long time journalists Ralph Houston & Tod Swain decide to quit and transfer to working for the leading broadsheet,due to each of them being well aware of Gillette's underground mob links.

    Returning home,Ralph & Tod are met by their daughter/girlfriend Vina Swain who says that a debt collector has come round.Pushing the debt collector out,Ralph reveals to Vina about what has happened to their jobs.Talking to her dad later,Vina is sad to find out that Ralph secretly took out a loan,so that he could cover her higher education costs.Desperate to clear the debt from Ralph's name,Vina decides to call Gillette and ask him for a job on the paper.

    View on the film:

    Taking Jack Moffitt's play The Roaring Girl from the stage to the news room, the screenplay by Sidney Salkow and Rian James bounces the Comedy from smooth screwball to rapid slap-stick,as the title goes from showing the reporters trying to one up each other with more outrageous headlines,to Gillette's joyfully boo-hiss gangster activities.After building up a light atmosphere for the first 30 minutes,the writers release an excellent,surprisingly bleak twist,which allows the movie to take a slight dip into sweet melodrama,as Vina begins to feel the effect of taking a job with Gillette.

    Rushing across the newsroom, Fred MacMurray gives a terrific performance as Houston,with MacMurray keeping Houston's sincerity from being sickly sweet by giving Houston a biting determination to splash the truth about Gillette on the front page.Ignoring requests from her dad & boyfriend to not work for Gillette,the pretty Frances Farmer (who replaced Carole Lombard,who refused to do the role!) gives a wonderful performance as Vina Swain,thanks to Farmer giving Vina a petite appearance which is broken the more she is told off for working for Gillette,as Vina casts an eye on her first exclusive.