When ambitious editor Crawford is put in charge of saving the respected New York Express newspaper, he decides to ignore its noble reputation and instead turn it into a tabloid. Using an outrageous series of sensational stunts, Crawford propels the paper's sagging circulation through the
roof. His protege, Derek, looks up to his mentor and wishes to emulate him. Unfortunately, Derek's girl friend, Reed, a feature writer, hates Crawford's tactics and thinks he has ruined a once great newspaper. To promote reader participation, Crawford creates a Lonely Hearts Club for the paper and
sponsors a huge ball to celebrate. At the bash, Crawford is shocked to discover DeCamp, the wife he deserted years ago, who is now penniless and alone. The powerful editor hustles his wife out of the party and back to her apartment, where she threatens to blackmail him. Enraged, Crawford beats her
to death and then puts her body in the bathtub to make it look like an accident. Before leaving, he takes all clues to her identity and destroys them. When the body is found, the coroner concludes that her death was murder. Wanting to impress his mentor, Derek energetically investigates the
killing. He discovers an old pawn ticket that belonged to DeCamp and accidentally turns it over to his friend, O'Neill, an aging ex-reporter. O'Neill redeems the ticket and finds a photograph of Crawford and the dead woman. Before he can tell Derek the news, he is murdered by Crawford. Meanwhile,
Derek and Reed have traced the judge that married the murder victim and they are shocked to learn that Crawford was the groom. Crawford has followed the reporters and bursts into the room with a gun, threatening to shoot. The police arrive in the nick of time and kill Crawford in a shootout. His
illusions shattered, Derek writes Crawford's obituary for the front page.
SCANDAL SHEET is an intense, gripping crime drama that hurtles along like an express train. Based on a novel entitled The Dark Page written by film director/writer Samuel Fuller, which was picked by the Book Critics of America as the outstanding psychological novel of 1944, the film is an
examination of the dark side of American journalism. Fuller culled the material for the novel from his experiences as a writer for various tabloids, and it illustrates how basically honorable men can be warped by their obsession to be on top. Crawford's character is a villain, but he is also
understandable and sympathetic. We watch as this ambitious, hard-working man disintegrates into a cynical, cold-hearted murderer, and at the end there is a tragic sense of loss. The mentor-protege relationship between Crawford and Derek is especially ironic because Crawford created the monster
that ultimately destroyed him. Fuller had originally written the screenplay himself for director Howard Hawks, but the project lay dormant until 1951 when it was rewritten, retitled, and produced. Director Karlson does a fine job as director and was well attuned to this sort of material. He would
go on to direct such memorable crime films as 99 RIVER STREET (1953), THE PHOENIX CITY STORY (1955), and THE BROTHERS RICO (1957), but one must wonder what SCANDAL SHEET might have been under the direction of the masterful Howard Hawks or its obsessed and passionate creator, Samuel Fuller.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: When ambitious editor Crawford is put in charge of saving the respected New York Express newspaper, he decides to ignore its noble reputation and instead turn it into a tabloid. Using an outrageous series of sensational stunts, Crawford propels the paper's… (more)