The newspaper game has long been grist for the play and movie mill. The inebriated newshound became a cliche with his first entrance on the stage, along with the overeager "cub" and the noble journalist. All are on display in The Famous Ferguson Case released by Warner Brothers in 1932.
An internationally prominent financier is murdered in his upstate summer home. The police and local officials have no reason to suspect the banker's wife and her friend, but the newspaper lads need a story. After all, they have traveled to this burg and must have something to show for their trouble.
Joan Blondell is top-billed as Maizie Dickson in her first of eight movies with director Lloyd Bacon (Marked Woman). Joan began her film career at Warner Brothers in 1930 and would make 55 movies throughout the decade, ten of them in 1932. Maizie is a young woman, but a seasoned reporter of the "sob sister" type. Her cynicism is struggling with her finer feelings.
Tom Brown is Bruce Foster, the young sincere-type editor of the Cornwell Courier who breaks the story, bringing the NYC crowd to his town. Foster has stars in his eyes about the big time and maybe this will be his ticket out. His co-worker and girlfriend Toni played by Adrienne Dore has even brighter stars in her eyes when it comes to the big time and the glamorous life she reads about in magazines.
Grant Mitchell plays Martin Collins, an old-school reporter of the respectable type. Collins and his co-workers have a job to do and choices to make. Do you look for the story or the headline? Sometimes Collins hates his job, but more often he considers it a calling.
Kenneth Thomson plays Bob Parks, a reporter of the hard-drinking type. Parks and his crowd have stories to create. They snoop and badger when they can find time away from their drinking. If they pin the murder on some innocent party, it will all come out in the end, and no harm done.
Vivienne Osborne and Leon Ames are the suspects in The Famous Ferguson Case. Hounded by the press, their lives will never be the same. Nor anyone else's in Cornwell.
Only one of a slate of newspaper stories to come out of the studio in this era, The Famous Ferguson Case is based on a story by Courtney Terrett (Love is a Racket), adapted by Harvey F. Thew (Public Enemy). It is a fast-paced indictment of yellow journalism and well-worth a look for fans of the sub-genre.
Joan Blondell, Tom Brown
Joan Blondell is the TCM Star of the Month for December. The short-lived Broadway play Penny Arcade attracted the attention of Warner Brothers and they filmed it as Sinner's Holiday, casting two members of the original cast, Joan Blondell and James Cagney. The play also featured Don Beddoe, Paul Guilfoyle, and Millard Mitchell.
Joan's vibrant personality and versatility were on full display during these years and TCM is screening many of her films from the trenchant comedies to wacky musicals to the sensationalistic drama of The Famous Ferguson Case airing on Friday, December 6th in the early morning of their broadcast day.