In 1931, at the dawn of the era of sound motion pictures, many of the standards for film genres were set. Nominated for an Oscar as the year's best film, Five Star Final was the prototypical newspaper movie which was widely imitated in the 1930s and 1940s. It features many of the aspects of such films that would later become cliches, including a hard-bitten newspaper editor (played by Edward G. Robinson), an unscrupulous reporter (played by the great villain Boris Karloff) and a cast of crusty journalists and outraged citizens. It's a thorough condemnation of yellow journalism and sets forth the same kind of tensions and themes that many decades later could be found in such newspaper films as All the President's Men and Absence of Malice. Like all such films, there is redemption in exposing hypocrisy and pursuing truth. Prolific director Mervyn LeRoy was at the helm. Five years later, the plot was recycled, with the setting shifted to a radio station, in Two Against the World, starring Humphrey Bogart.
by Michael Betzold review