Scandal Sheet (1952)

Directed by Phil Karlson
Cinematography Burnett Guffey
The editor of an exploitation newspaper commits a murder and assigns his protégé to investigate hoping to divert attention away from himself.

Gritty and intelligent.

14 January 2010 | by planktonrules (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I sought out this film for two reasons. First, it was written by Sam Fuller and I have been trying to watch as many of his films as I can–they are, with only a few exceptions, great films. Second, I have always liked Broderick Crawford, as he had a way about him–portraying unrelentingly tough guys. With my love of film noir, it’s a natural that I’d love seeing his ugly mug! Well, after finishing this film, I found that I wasn’t disappointed. The writing, direction and acting were all very good.


Crawford stars as a man who has been brought in to save a dying newspaper. To make it successful, he gives the public what it wants–scandal, sleaze and violent content. While many of the paper’s stockholders can’t stand what he’s done to make the paper solvent, he has made them rich–and it’s hard to argue with success–even at this price.

One of Crawford’s reporters is John Derek. Usually I don’t like him in films, as he’s just too pretty. Here, however, he was just fine–pretty, sure…but fine. Derek specializes in sniffing out cases and one new case really intrigues him. An unidentified woman is found dead. It clearly looks like an accidental death but Derek’s instincts tell him it was staged to look that way, so he pushes and pushes investigators to dig deeper. Yes, it turns out she was murdered…but WHO did it and WHY is what makes this film very, very intriguing.


In addition to Crawford and Derek, the film also stars Donna Reed and Henry O’Neill. Reed plays a woman who is like the voice of conscience in the movie–always appalled at Crawford’s methods and making it clear that she wants no part of this degradation of the paper. O’Neill, however, is the more interesting guy. In the 1930s and 40s, O’Neill had very steady work and was a familiar face at MGM in supporting roles (having appeared in 177 films and TV shows during his career). By 1952, his career was on the decline and his output reduced significantly. Here, he makes a bit of a last hurrah AND gets to play a role that stretched his abilities–playing a down-and-out drunk whose character evolves and shows great depth during the course of the movie.

Overall, the film is taut and exciting. Whether or not you’d call it film noir is a tough one, as definitions vary tremendously. Considering that the cops are purely secondary characters and there isn’t the same criminal atmosphere in the film as noir, I’m not sure I’d call it noir. But, it is at least noir-like and is sure to please anyone who likes the grittier sort of film Hollywood did so well during this era.


This Scandal Sheet is a Must ‘Reed’!

Author: MCL1150 from United States
27 August 2007

As great a Film Noir as there is! I LOVE Film Noir and often search them out by auditioning titles. And with one like “Scandal Sheet”, what else could it be? Fronted by Broderick Crawford and co-starring Donna Reed and John Dereck with Rosemary DeCamp and Harry Morgan, the cast is as first rate as any Film Noir could hope for. It even has Columbia’s master (future) Oscar Winning B&W cinematographer Burnett Guffey on board for lots of wonderful Noir shots. One more “Big Name” anywhere would have ruined it! And there’s a GREAT turn by the much underrated Henry O’Neil as Charlie Barnes, a washed up drunk of a former great newspaper man. His role is small but by far the most important. Wow. Nothing more satisfying than a great Film Noir with all the clichés in tact and WORKING FOR the picture instead of against it.


You absolutely know how it will end up, but there’s still lots of high powered tension. And at about 80 minutes, it doesn’t feature any unnecessary padding. Low budget pictures never do and it only makes them tighter. I caught it on TCM. Keep an eye out for it. A truly satisfying Film Noir in all respects! There’s even a comical (I’m convinced it was definitely meant to be) bit in the opening scene with Derek pretending to be a cop and doing a “Joe Friday” in telling a distraught woman “I know it’s rough lady, but I only want the facts!” Moments later in walks Harry “Bill Gannon” Morgan! A little icing before you even have at the cake. As the headlines in the picture itself might have said in a self review: Terrific! Fantstic! A MUST SEE!


Strange & Mysterious Film

Author: whpratt1 from United States
15 September 2007

Enjoy the great acting of Broderick Crawford, (Mark Chapman) who is the editor of a popular newspaper and his star reporter is John Derek, (Steve McCleary) and a very attractive Julie Allison, (Donna Reed) who gives a great supporting role. Mark Chapman is a go getter for this popular newspaper and always manages to capture crimes of murder with the great assistance of Steve McCleary. However, Steve McCleary investigates a recent murder of a woman who has died rather mysteriously and delves deeply into its background and is able to determine the killer and the complete reason for the murdering of this woman. There are many twists and turns in this film and Broderick Crawford and Donna Reed give outstanding performances which make this a very interesting and enjoyable film to view from 1952.


Broderick Crawford’s Little Secret

Author: Bucs1960 from West Virginia
25 August 2007
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is just a great little movie by the auteur, Phil Karlson. It reminds me a little bit of “The Big Clock” (with Ray Milland/Charles Laughton) that takes place at a magazine empire where the hunted is also the hunter. Change the venue to a National Enquirer type newspaper and the stories are somewhat interchangeable. Regardless, this film is a neat foray into the noir genre and Crawford sweats it out with the best of them.

John Derek and Donna Reed, a rather mismatched couple, play reporters on Crawford’s paper who are searching for the killer of a woman who attended the newspaper sponsored lonely hearts gathering. Needless to say, they do not suspect that Crawford was once married to the victim and has handily done away with her. Henry O’Neil, a staple from movies of the 30s and 40s has a nice turn as a one time star reporter who has sadly become an alcoholic. He stumbles, literally, into the case by discovering a pawn ticket, inadvertently given to him by Crawford. The ticket leads to his murder and now Crawford is in for a penny, in for a pound.


Derek and Reed do some fancy detecting and all is revealed. A very satisfying denouement takes place in the newspaper office and you can only hope that Derek becomes the editor with Reed at his side.

Broderick Crawford does a masterful job as the hunter/hunted. We sometime forget that he was an Academy Award winner and many only remember him from his TV role on “Highway Patrol”. This film is worth watching if you like a tight story with no frills. It’s a dandy!!



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