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Park Row

Park Row(1952)


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A written foreword runs over a montage of newspaper mastheads, stating: "These are the names of 1,772 daily newspapers in the United States. One of them is the paper you read. All of them are the stars of this story. Dedicated to American journalism." An offscreen narrator then declares over the opening credits that Park Row, in Manhattan, is the most important street for printing and was made famous by such inventors as Johannes Gutenberg, who created moveable type, and Benjamin Franklin. The film depicts several real-life occurrences, including Steve Brodie's leap from the Brooklyn Bridge, the American effort to raise enough money to complete the Statue of Liberty, and Ottmar Mergenthaler's invention of the linotype machine.
       Samuel Fuller's credit reads "Written, produced and directed by Samuel Fuller." Fuller wrote the story based on his own experiences in the newspaper world, which began at the age of 14, when he worked as a copy boy. A January 1952 Los Angeles Times item reports that Fuller solicited the stories of anyone who was present when the Statue of Liberty was raised and, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item, he searched New York City for shooting locations with cobblestone streets and buildings that had remained unchanged since the late 1800s. A February 1952 Los Angeles Daily News article reported that the printing press used in the film was constructed specially for the production from the original 1878 plans. To promote the film, Fuller asked over 1,700 newspapers to donate their mastheads for use in the opening sequence, and then sent 16mm prints of the finished picture to every newspaper in America. Despite his efforts, however, the film was a financial failure and bankrupted Samuel Fuller Productions, which completed only one project.
       Although the Daily Variety review reports that the film includes a footnote stating that "90% of Park Row is based on fact," that footnote was not in the viewed print. Sound engineer Earl Crain, Sr.'s surname is misspelled "Craine" in the onscreen credits. Hollywood Reporter news items include Dorothy Sarnoff in the cast and modern sources add Charles Horvath (Wiley's goon) and Monk Eastman, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. In addition, a Hollywood Reporter news item lists the actor who plays "Steve Brodie" as George Hamilton rather than as George O'Hanlon. Mary Welch made her feature-film debut in Park Row. Film Daily reported in June 1954 that the Walter E. Heller Co. sued Samuel Fuller and others involved in the production for the use of the title "Park Row," but the disposition of the suit is not known.