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Park Row

Park Row(1952)


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In New York City in 1886, reporter Phineas Mitchell joins his fellow newspapermen at a local bar. While Steve Brodie, husband of the bartender, Jenny O'Rourke, plans to earn publicity for the bar by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, Phineas fumes over the success of his paper, The Star , in orchestrating the execution of an innocent man in order to increase circulation. After he posts a plaque on the man's grave denouncing the paper, Star publisher Charity Hackett confronts Phineas. He condemns her and when the other workers support him, they are all fired. Printer Charles A. Leach overhears Phineas fantasize out loud about the kind of honest, moral paper he would run, and offers the budding editor the use of his press and offices. Within hours, Phineas hires all of his friends and writes the story of Steve's successful jump off the bridge. The men, along with young apprentice Rusty, work all night sorting type, and then are forced to use butcher paper in order to print The Globe by morning. Its exciting copy and high ideals are an instant hit, and the next morning, Charity visits the offices to check out her new competitor. Phineas flirts with her as she tries to gather information about him, but she is undaunted until later that afternoon, when Phineas' huge parade for Steve proves that he already wields power in the neighborhood. Soon after, Phineas' star reporter, the elderly Josiah Davenport, proposes a story about the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France, which now needs another $100,000 in order to be completed. The Globe champions this patriotic effort, offering to print the name of anyone who gives money to the "Liberty Fund." Meanwhile, Phineas' friend, inventor Ottmar Mergenthaler, struggles to create the first linotype machine. Charity attempts to woo him to The Star , but Mergenthaler informs her that he will only work for a great, moral paper. Over the next days, the Globe office begins to grow, and while the eager Rusty learns the secrets of the industry from his experienced co-workers, Phineas introduces innovations such as individual newsstands and bylines. When he discovers that Charity plans to denounce the Statue of Liberty as a ruse to allow the French to borrow money from the U.S., he rebuts her attack in an earlier edition and wins the fight. Secretly, however, Phineas is falling in love with Charity's beauty and strength, and when she visits that night and proposes a merger, he kisses her but refuses her offer. She stalks out and launches a plan to cut off his supplies of ink and paper. She dispatches her business manager, Riley, with the plan, and Riley hires goons who destroy the newsstands and, in an attack on the Globe paper truck, run over Rusty's legs. Phineas tracks and beats up the goons, and declares to Charity that she has started a war, causing her to weep. Soon after, Phineas is ordered by the government to return all profits from forged Liberty Fund receipts. When he finally captures one of the shyster fund "salesmen," the man names Riley as his employer. That night, Davenport writes the story of the fraudulent receipts but the press is attacked and the story stolen. Among the office ruins, Phineas finds the now-deceased Davenport's self-written obituary, which states that he has waited to die until he found a man of high ideals to save the press. Encouraged by Davenport's faith in Phineas, the staff works all night on Mergenthaler's newly perfected linotype machine to put the paper out. As the sun rises and they print the first issue, however, the office is once again attacked and the press destroyed. Despondent, Phineas drinks himself to sleep. When he awakes, his staff shows him the paper they have printed, identical to the old one. They bring forward Charity, who explains that Riley took her order too far and has been fired. She informs Phineas that she read Davenport's obituary and, inspired, killed her paper to give life to The Globe . He embraces her, and months later, the Statue of Liberty is raised thanks to the efforts of Phineas' paper.