Noir City Film Festival in recent weeks: the evening of Geraldine Fitzgerald films was sponsored by the Warner Archive, which held a drawing for a giveaway of 10 Archive DVDs. And I was absolutely thrilled when I learned I'd won!
Even better was the news that I got to pick the 10 titles myself. One of the titles on my list was EXCLUSIVE STORY (1936), a newspaper versus the mob story starring a pair of actors I really enjoy, Franchot Tone and Madge Evans.
Tone plays the legal counsel for a newspaper which takes on organized crime. The chief reporter on the story is played by Stuart Erwin. Evans is the daughter of a grocer who is pressured by the mobsters to participate in a numbers racket.
It's an entertaining, fast-paced 73-minute movie, a nice mix of newsroom drama, crime busting, romance, and adventure, including a gripping shipboard fire sequence (which has a couple of surprisingly disturbing visuals).
Tone and Evans are fine, as usual. The nicest surprise in the film was a really good part for Stuart Erwin as the reporter. He and his understanding wife, played by Margaret Irving, have a delightful bantering relationship, and their scenes elevate the movie above the average run-of-the-mill film of this type.
The supporting cast includes the excellent actor Joseph Calleia as one of the mobsters and J. Farrell MacDonald as Evans' father. Louise Henry plays Tone's not-very-understanding fiancee. The cast also includes Robert Barrat, Charles Trowbridge, William Henry, Raymond Hatton, J. Carrol Naish, and Sam McDaniel. That's Dickie Jones as one of Stuart Erwin's sons.
EXCLUSIVE STORY was directed by George B. Seitz, a stalwart of MGM's "B" unit who headed up films such as the ANDY HARDY series and MY DEAR MISS ALDRICH (1937). He also directed the very good YELLOW JACK (1938) with Robert Montgomery and Virginia Bruce.
In addition to the DVD, EXCLUSIVE STORY can be seen on Turner Classic Movies.
For more on this film, please visit Frank Nugent's original review in the New York Times and Matt Hinrichs' positive review of the Warner Archive DVD for DVD Talk.