In New York’s 1880’s newspaper district a dedicated journalist manages to set up his own paper. It is an immediate success but attracts increasing opposition from one of the bigger papers and its newspaper heiress owner. Despite the fact he rather fancies the lady the newsman perseveres with the help of the first Linotype machine, invented on his premises, while also giving a hand with getting the Statue of Liberty erected.



“Park Row” is small but an engaging and entertaining tribute to American journalism. Under the opening credits we see a huge rolling title that lists about 2,000 American daily newspapers and this story is dedicated to them. Set in the 1880s New York, the film is about the rivalry between The Globe and The Star. An aspiring newspaper editor (Gene Evans) sets up his own daily The Globe after a man jumps off the Brooklyn Bridge. He struggles to compete with his former employer’s (Mary Welch) newspaper The Star, who happens to be in love with him, while the Statue of Liberty is being donated to the U.S. by France.

Fuller has a real feel for the material, filling his script with the usual insider terminology and slang. Leaving just enough in his account for some vodka and cigars, the writer-director-producer spent the rest of his savings – some $200,000 accrued making hit war films – on this pet project. Much of the cash went on a fastidiously complete recreation of the Park Row of his memory, including a multitude of four-storey buildings. The film’s designers queried his logic, saying the tops of the structures would never be seen on camera.

It’s also commendable that Fuller even decided to make the ‘villain’ a woman, and to give her complexity. It would have been an easy route to make this opposing editor a man and make it mano-a-mano, but Fuller’s after something else here. I wonder how closely he took it to history, or if he merely wanted to see this power dynamic played out in the year it was set in. It goes without saying he draws from personal experience, as a journalist in his years before being a filmmaker.
The DVD comes with a trailer. It’s part of the MGM Limited Edition Collection On-Demand program which has really been splitting film fans for the last couple of months. Not everyone enjoys the nature of the DVD-R films, however you have to appreciate that the film is finally arriving on Home Video. The A/V Quality is strong enough without really being that overpowering. Still, given that it’s Fuller…I don’t see why someone didn’t bother to license it out to Criterion. Oh well, I’d recommend a purchase.

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