News Is Made at Night


1h 11m 1939

Film Details

Also Known As
The Big Drum
Release Date
Jul 21, 1939
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 12 Jul 1939
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 11m
Film Length
6,431ft

Synopsis

Two days before his date with the electric chair for the murder of Tad Beaumont, Bat Randall walks in the prison courtyard as a plane flies over and strafes the field. Although Albert Hockman, son of the publisher of The Guardian News , mocks up the headline "Randall Attempts Daring Escape," managing editor Steve Drum knows that this was a murder attempt, probably the work of mobster Barney Baseley. Then Maxine Thomas arrives, looking for work, but is quickly told that Steve doesn't hire female reporters. Later, after sneaking into his apartment, Maxine finds Steve in the bath and makes a quick getaway, as well as a poor first impression. As she is leaving Steve's, Maxine runs into Charles Coulton, Steve's rich next-door neighbor. Coulton invites Maxine to a hockey game, where Steve is forced to share his box with her. Steve leaves the game only to run into Joe Luddy, who tells him that he killed Tad Beaumont because Beaumont was blackmailing a friend of Baseley. Luddy further claims that Baseley is now after him and that he has signed an affidavit at his girl friend's apartment. Steve doesn't believe Luddy until the gangster is gunned down in front of the hockey arena. As Steve calls in the story to his paper, Maxine eavesdrops and threatens to take the story to another paper unless Steve hires her. Luddy's girl friend, Kitty Truman, calls Steve and tells him that the affidavit has been stolen. Steve types a fake affidavit and rushes to Kitty's apartment, only to find the place wrecked and with Maxine inside to boot. Hearing someone coming, Steve and Maxine hide together in a closet and discover Kitty's dead body when they re-emerge. They find that a snake ring is missing from the dresser and a cigar wrapper, tied in a knot, has appeared. They then deduce that the missing ring was the same one worn by a mystery man in a photograph taken with Kitty. Steve summizes that this "Mr. X" is the man Beaumont must have been blackmailing. Later at a golf course, Steve confronts Lieutenant Governor Elmer Hinge and District Attorney Rufe Reynolds with the fake affidavit and asks them for a stay of execution for Bat. They refuse, so Steve publishes the fake affidavit. Baseley calls Albert, informing him that he is going to sue the paper for one million dollars as he and the unseen "Mr. X" burn the real affidavit. With only six hours before the execution, Steve has his actor friend, Fred Barrett, pretend to be a dying mobster who confesses to the crime. Barrett, always the ham, overdoes it and lands the whole brood in jail. At the prison, Albert and Maxine sneak into the warden's office where they meet the just bailed-out Steve. Over the phone, Albert pretends to be the governor, staying the execution. Checking the fingerprints on the wrapper, Steve and Maxine discover they belong to Clifford Mussey, Baseley's ex-partner who has beeen assumed dead for eighteen years. Maxine goes to Coulton, asking his help once again, just as Steve, back at the office, realizes that Coulton is Mussey. As Coulton goes into the bedroom to get his gun, Maxine finds the snake ring and realizes the worst. Just as Coulton is about to kill her, Steve arrives. Steve and Coulton confront each other. The doorbell rings as Coulton is about to kill Steve and Maxine, and after Billiard, Steve's butler, is revealed, a fight ensues. Steve and Maxine capture Coulton and find Baseley's dead body in the closet as well. Inspector Melrose arrives as Steve and Maxine start to argue about whose name will get the byline on the story. Steve informs Maxine that from now on his name will be on all her bylines.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Big Drum
Release Date
Jul 21, 1939
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 12 Jul 1939
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 11m
Film Length
6,431ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to Screen Achievements Bulletin, John Larkin based his screenplay on his own unpublished story. Hollywood Reporter reported that the original story was entitled "The Big Drum," which also was the film's working title.