My Top 10 Newspaper Films

In conjunction with the Film Forum’s latest retrospective THE NEWPAPER PICTURE which begins today and runs through  May 6th, I thought I’d list my top 10 favorite newspaper films plus a list of honorable mentions. I have always had an affinity for newspaper themed films, along with train themed films among a few others.  Check out the FILM FORUM’s schedule here.  Also attached is a N.Y.Times article by A.O. Scott  on the retrospective.

Below is my top 10 list.

A note….

The top ten are in order of preference as they relate to being a newspaper film and not necessarily the overall quality of the movie. Subsequently, “Citizen Kane” ranks fourth  as a newspaper film which does not mean this is the 4th best film.

Finally please submit your own list of favorites.

1  Ace in the Hole (1951)

2  Park Row (1952)

3  All the President’s Men (1976)

4 Citizen Kane (1942)

5 Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

6 His Girl Friday (1940)

7 It Happened One Night (1934)

8 Zodiac (2007)

9 Absence of Malice (1981)

10 The Paper 1994)


Call Northside 777 (1948)

Dealine U.S.A. (1952)

Five Star Final (1931)

Meet John Doe (1941)

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

Scandal Sheet (1952)

Shattered Glass (2003)

Shock Corrider (1963)

State of Play (2009)

The Front Page (1931)

The Harder They Fall (1956)

While the City Sleeps (1956)

Woman of the Year (1942)

14 comments on “My Top 10 Newspaper Films

  1. This is a challenging category for the reasons you mention, but here goes.

    1. The Front Page (1931) — I’m in the minority preferring the original to Hawks’s revamping but Milestone’s film is a marvel of rapid-fire editing and boasts a masterful performance by one of my favorite character actors, Adolphe Menjou.

    2. While the City Sleeps — though it bleeds over into television-movie territory a little.

    3. Zodiac — arguably 2/3 of a newspaper film, but that fraction is a good-sized feature, and a great one, in its own right.

    4. All the President’s Men.

    5. Meet John Doe
    6. Citizen Kane — the ranking of the 1941 films reflects my view that the Capra is more immediately about the power of the press and the menace of a media mogul than the Welles.

    7. Ace in the Hole — though if we were to distinguish between “newspaper” and “reporter” films this would rank higher.

    8. His Girl Friday — I didn’t say I didn’t like the Hawks!

    9. Sweet Smell of Success
    10. The Paper — you made a good choice of an underrated Ron Howard film.


    • John Greco says:


      good choices! Understand where you coming from with the spearation of “newspaper” and “reporter.” Myself, I did not make the distinction. I definitely agree with you the underappreciated “The Paper.”


  2. J.D. says:

    Great list! The only other additions I would recommend are THE MEAN SEASON, where Kurt Russell plays an investigative reporter for a Miami paper who begins to get calls from a serial killer and becomes part of the story, and THE PAPER, Ron Howard’s ode to newspapers with Michael Keaton as the harried editor of a daily tabloid newspaper. I always enjoy watching these two films.


  3. Judy says:

    Really enjoyed this and the season of movies at the Film Forum sounds great – I was interested to see that they are showing the rare early Wellman film ‘Love Is A Racket’ (one I haven’t seen yet), proving a good print of it exists, so that raises my hopes of it turning up on DVD in future!

    As I work in newspapers I’ve always been fascinated by newspaper films too… though it is sometimes poignant to watch them now and realise how much has changed. All those scenes in 1930s films with huge packs of reporters fighting for the phone, or news boys standing on the corner shouting out the headlines, with another edition appearing to come out every five minutes. I’m a big fan of both ‘The Front Page’ and ‘His Girl Friday’ and find it hard to decide which one I prefer – I also like many of your other choices, especially ‘Absence of Malice’ and ‘Zodiac’.

    I’ve read that James Cagney was originally supposed to get the lead in ‘The Front Page’ but Howard Hughes was the producer and said “I’m not having that little runt in my film.” Cagney did star in several newspaper movies, though – I rather like the pre-Code ‘Picture Snatcher’, set at a sleazy downmarket paper where he plays an ex-gangster whose job is literally to steal pictures in order to get them into the paper! (Who cares about copyright law?) He also stars in ‘Come Fill the Cup’, a fine 1950s movie – I suppose it tends to be thought of more as a film about drink, but there is a lot about newspapers too. There’s also ‘Johnny Come Lately’, from 1943, which isn’t really a very good movie – a bit like a weak copy of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – but I rather like it because it is about a small-town paper taking on corruption and refusing to be silenced by a fearsome businessman.


    • John Greco says:

      Judy, I thought you would like this! PICTURE SNATCHER is a good pre-code, which I have not seen in a while though I remember liking it. Did not know about Cagney and THE FORNT PAGE and the Hughes statement. With his delivery Cagney would have been great. LOVE IS A RACKET is one I have been looking for myself. The whole FILM FORUM retrospective just looks great.


  4. Sam Juliano says:

    Well John, I’ve known about this retro and I will be making several appearance over the coming weeks, and reporting back to WitD. For all sorts of reasons I know this is something you have a great affinity for, and I applaud you for promoting it here is what is truly one of Twenty Four Frames’s greatest posts ever. Your own list is a terrific one, and I will follow up here with my own baker’s dozen:

    1. Citizen Kane
    2. Ace in the Hole
    3. Sweet Smell of Success
    4. Chicago
    5. His Girl Friday
    6. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
    7. All the President’s Men
    8. Superman
    9. The Best Man
    10. Meet John Doe
    11. The Philadelphia Story
    12. Shattered Glass
    13. Foreign Correspondant


    • John Greco says:

      Sam, We agree on quite a few I see. THE BEST MAN I have not seen in over 25 years so it is tough to make a decision on that one and THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is one of my missing. Funny becaue it always pops up on TCM and I am always going to record it to watch and for some reason never do. Thanks again.


  5. Chuck Tatum says:

    Very interesting discussion. I run a module Journalists On Film in a journalism degree course at RGU, Aberdeen, Scotland, and I was amazed by how 20-year-old undergraduates responded to the Billy Wilder 1952 film which tops my list. They found it shocking and loved it! Similarly, McKendrick’s 1950s film (loosely based on Walter Winchell) shocked them with the violence of its language — yet there isn’t a single profanity.

    1. Ace In The Hole
    2. Citizen Kane
    3. Sweet Smell Of Success
    4. La Dolce Vita
    5. All The President’s Men
    6. His Girl Friday
    7. The Front Page (Billy Wilder)
    8. State Of Play
    9. All About Eve
    10. Call Northside 777

    A few words about films in the above list which have not had so much attention so far from posters.

    Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (4) has a wonderful performance by Marcello Mastroianni as a spiritually bankrupt newspaper columnist, and it introduces the photographer character Joe Paparazzo who gave his name to a breed.

    Wilder’s remake of The Front Page (7) was not one of the director’s own favourites, but it injects an invective that contrasts with the Howard Hawks zanier version (6).

    State Of Play (8) presents a contrast between the dinosaur hack reporter (Russell Crowe) and his cyber sidekick (Rachel McAdams), which gives the film great currency, (and unexpected nostalgia for the dying print industry).

    All About Eve (9) is a Joe Mankiewicz masterpiece about ambition, deceit and cynicism, observed by a newspaper columnist played by George Saunders.


    • John Greco says:

      Hi Chuck and welcome!

      I am delighted to hear how your students responded to ACE IN THE HOLE and SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS. I think both of these films were ahead of their times with their cynical attitudes which probably is one of the things that keeps them both so fresh.
      I have seen all four of the films you discussed but honestly it has been years since I have seen LA DOLCE VITA and Wilder’s THE FRONT PAGE, both films I need to revisit. ALL ABOUT EVE is a tremendous work and STATE OF PLAY, I remember liking but not struck by the contrast you mention which definitely makes it more interesting. I guess I need to take another look at that too.
      Thanks for this terrific input!


  6. mrznyc says:

    Nobody likes “Nothing Sacred?” Remade years later as a Martin/Lewis vehicle, “Living It Up” – The original with Carole Lombard is a great newspaper movie


  7. John Greco says:


    NOTHING SACRED is certainly a worthy addition and one of the great screwball comedies of all time.


  8. […] I won’t try to compile my favorite journalism movies or asking you to submit yours. If you’re interested in such a list, check out those compiled by Dan Barry, Robert Feder, Time magazine and John Greco. […]


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