This post is part of the Journalism is Classic Film Blogathon hosted by Comet Over Hollywood and Lindsay's Movie Musings.
|Picture Snatcher Job Description|
There's good, classic journalism, there's hard-hitting journalism, and then there is that old favorite of the masses, yellow journalism. Dating back to the late 19th century and a feud between the Hearst and Pulitzer New York newspapers, yellow journalism generally is defined by a sleazy and sensationalized approach to its topic - a perfect theme for a Warner Brothers quickie starring that pre-code prince of amorality, James Cagney.
|Cagney practices his technique|
|Ralph Bellamy as Al - yellow stains are not just from tobacco|
He calls on old pal Al McLean, the editor of the bright yellow Graphic News. Now, Al is a broken down has-been who once offered Danny a job, never thinking the kid would ever take him up on it. But here's Danny, ready and eager like a pit bull puppy. Al is played by Ralph Bellamy, who does a wonderful job as the alcoholic newsman who has fallen about as low as he can go. Danny proves his spunk by using unethical means to get a prized photo of a fireman who, having found his wife and lover dead from a fire, was refusing to come out of his smoldering home.
Danny, with his questionable ethics, fits right in at the Graphic News. When a group of journalism students show up for a tour, Danny imparts all of his journalistic wisdom while making goo-goo eyes at one of the academic cuties (Patricia Ellis as Pat). He describes his job as tracking down the saps who don't want their pictures in the papers. When asked which was his toughest subject, he answered "the Governor." Why? He had to ask his pardon.
|Professor Cagney and his students|
Naturally, Danny falls for the classy Pat and naturally her father is the police officer who sent Danny to the slammer in the first place. Danny fixes that little dilemma by getting another newspaper to run a glowing story about the protective father. In fact, the story is so influential, the officer is promoted and grateful to Danny. There's also a nice little side story with snazzy Alice White as Allison, a copy writer who romances Al and runs after Danny.
|Alice White wants to collaborate with Cagney|
|Ready for a close-up|
|The sensational photo|
|Cagney gets the job and the girl|
|The real execution photo|
"Picture Snatcher" is a Warner Brothers and Cagney pre-code home run with lots of fast and funny dialogue. Cagney is a joy and totally in his element as the toughie who knows that all newspaper is eventually good for is wrapping herring.