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Five Star Final

Five Star Final

Five Star Final is a 1931 American pre-Code drama film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Edward G. Robinson, Aline MacMahon (in her screen debut), and Boris Karloff, about the excesses of tabloid journalism. The film was written by Robert Lord and Byron Morgan based on the 1930 play of the same name by Louis Weitzenkorn; the title refers to the contemporary practice of newspapers publishing a series of editions throughout the day, marking its final edition front page with five stars and the word "Final." "Five Star Final" is also a font introduced during World War I and favored by newspapers at the time for its narrow type.

Plot

Joseph W. Randall (Edward G. Robinson) is the managing editor of a tabloid newspaper; everyone on The Evening Gazette knows that when he can’t be found he is in the washroom, washing his hands, over and over and over. He has been trying to get the paper “on the up and up,” reduce the sensationalism and improve the reporting, but circulation has dropped 20,000 (to 306,000). When owner Bernard Hinchecliffe (Oscar Apfel) plans to boost the numbers with a retrospective series on a 20-year-old murder, hoping to revive the scandal, Randall reluctantly agrees. He covered the original story (for a now-defunct newspaper) about a stenographer, Nancy Voorhees (Frances Starr) who shot her boss after he reneged on his promise to marry her. Her pregnancy won the jury’s sympathy, and she was acquitted.