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Journalism in the Movies

Journalism in the Movies

Matthew C. Ehrlich
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Journalism in the Movies
    Book Description:

    Now in paperback, Matthew C. Ehrlichs Journalism in the Movies is the story of Hollywoods depiction of American journalism from the start of the sound era to the present. Ehrlich argues that films have relentlessly played off the image of the journalist as someone who sees through lies and hypocrisy, sticks up for the little guy, and serves democracy._x000B_Focusing on films about key figures and events in journalism, including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, All the Presidents Men, and The Insider, Journalism in the Movies presents a unique opportunity to reflect on how movies relate not only to journalism but also American life and democracy. _x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09108-7
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 Studying Journalism through Movies
    (pp. 1-19)

    This is a story of how movies have depicted American journalism from the start of the sound era to the present. It examines such films asThe Front Page, His Girl Friday, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Citizen Kane, Ace in the Hole, Deadline, USA, All the President’s Men, Network, Absence of Malice, The Killing Fields, Broadcast News,andThe Insider.The movies have portrayed journalists both as upstanding citizens and heroes and as scruffy outsiders and villains. Either way, Hollywood has reproduced myths in which the press is always at the heart of things and always makes a difference....

  5. 2 The Front Page
    (pp. 20-44)

    The Front Pageis the prototype of the journalism movie genre.¹ It was not popular culture’s first depiction of the press; many novels, plays, and silent films preceded its 1928 Broadway premiere. However, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s tale of a reporter who tries to escape journalism for marriage and an advertising career firmly established such familiar characters as the callous and cynical press corps, the conniving editor who stops at nothing for a story, and the feckless newshound wildly unsuitable for matrimony or any other conventional relationship. As such, it might be seen as an act of revenge perpetrated...

  6. 3 Screwball Comedy and Frank Capra
    (pp. 45-68)

    Screwball comedies, the wisecracking romances that Hollywood produced for a short period beginning in the mid-1930s, are among the best-loved American films.¹ Many feature journalists in what have been described as “morality tales in which the morals are notably absent.”² As inThe Front Page,a certain moral code exists—the story and the paper above all else—but moralizing has no place. The movies show a corrupt, big-city world in which being a smartaleck is the ultimate form of “sanity and resistance.”³

    The element that screwball added to the newspaper film was sophisticated romance via a group of uncommonly...

  7. 4 Citizen Kane
    (pp. 69-78)

    Citizen Kanehas been called “the film that routinely tops all critical polls, the motion picture used most frequently in film classes to show young filmmakers how to create their art,” and “ the apotheosis of the newspaper film.”¹ As such, it deserves separate treatment here. It is the story of Charles Foster Kane, who as a child inherits a fortune and as a young man decides “it would be fun to run a newspaper.” On the front page of theInquirer,he publishes a Declaration of Principles pledging he will “tell all the news honestly” and be “a fighting...

  8. 5 News in a Noir World
    (pp. 79-105)

    Cinema scholars argue that film noir was as creative an artistic response to Cold War paranoia as screwball comedy had been to the Depression. Screwball’s exuberance and connectedness gave way to dread and alienation; “sanity and resistance” gave way to madness and inexorable doom.¹ Truth and morality were just as much up for grabs, but whereas screwball had been preoccupied with phonies—unmasking them, making fun of them, even reveling in them—noir was preoccupied with confusion, blind alleys, and traps. Noir also targeted hubris asCitizen Kanehad; efforts to commit the perfect crime or escape one’s past were...

  9. 6 News and Conspiracy
    (pp. 106-131)

    The 1970s were a time of remarkable inventiveness and artistic achievement in Hollywood. Directors including Robert Altman, Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Martin Scorsese came to the fore. Film historian Robert Sklar says movies such asThe Godfather, Chinatown, Nashville,andTaxi Driver“marked a period not only of cinematic innovation but of a critical and analytical approach to national institutions rarely seen in mainstream American filmmaking.”¹ That reflected the collapse of the traditional Hollywood studio system and the Production Code, both of which had sharply constrained overt politicizing (as had the blacklist, which finally...

  10. 7 Myth and Antimyth in Contemporary Film
    (pp. 132-165)

    The decades after Watergate were trying for American journalism. The rapid growth of the Internet and cable and satellite television reduced the audiences for older media. By the end of the century, little more than half of U.S. households bought a daily newspaper, and the major TV networks’ share of the audience had similarly shrunk to 55 percent.¹ Venerable newspapers passed from the scene. The major television networks came under new corporate ownership that imposed budget cuts and layoffs on the news divisions while demanding that they pay more attention to the bottom line.

    Desperate to hold the readers and...

  11. 8 An Unseen Power
    (pp. 166-182)

    In 1999, a small independent film went so far as to resurrect Ben Hecht, or at least a fanciful facsimile of him.Man of the Centurytold of a New York reporter who seemed blissfully oblivious that he was living in the 1990s. Instead he spoke, dressed, and behaved as though he were living in the heyday of big-city jazz journalism. “In today’s world of cynicism and despair—of loneliness and rage—there is one man whose virtue and character recall the values of a happier time,”announced the movie’s trailer. “He’s Johnny Twennies, and boy, does he have moxie!” Johnny...

  12. INDEX
    (pp. 183-192)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 193-196)