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Five Star Final

Much praised in its day as a biting attack on gutter journalism (one of dozens trotted out during the first years of sound), this early entry in the Warner 'social protest' cycle hasn't worn nearly so well as Hecht-Milestone's much less solemn and self-righteous The Front Page. Robinson is more than adequate as the editor persuaded to boost circulation by reviving an old scandal, with tragic results ending in a double suicide. But with the victims coming on like characters in a Victorian melodrama, and LeRoy's direction accentuating the plot's origins (from the play by Louis Weitzenkorn) with its graceless gestures towards 'cinema' (including a clumsy attempt at split screen), the film hovers more than once on the brink of risibility. Worth seeing mainly for Karloff's wonderfully Uriah Heep-ish performance as a reporter ('the most blasphemous thing I've ever seen,' his editor drily observes) formerly expelled from divinity school for some evident but unspecified sexual misdemeanour.

Release details

Duration: 88 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Screenwriter: Byron Morgan, Robert Lord
Cast: Edward G Robinson
Marian Marsh
HB Warner
Anthony Bushell
Boris Karloff
George E Stone
Ona Munson
Aline MacMahon
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