The Famous Ferguson Case (1932)

Genres - Crime, Mystery  |   Release Date - May 14, 1932 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Wealthy industrialist George M. Ferguson (Purnell Pratt) is murdered and his wife (Vivienne Osborne) left bound and gagged in their summer home in the tiny upstate New York hamlet of Cornwall. Rumors quickly start going through the town -- many people don't know what to make of Mrs. Ferguson's claim that a pair of burglars attacked them, shot her husband, and stole her jewelry, especially as there have already been rumors of an affair between Mrs. Ferguson and bank employee Judd Brooks (Leon Ames). But the real trouble starts when a pack of reporters from New York City descend on the town. Some of them, led by veteran journalist Martin Collins (Grant Mitchell), are there to report the facts as they find them -- but another more aggressive bunch, led by smooth-talking Bob Parke (Kenneth Thompson), are prepared to report any rumor, no matter how scurrilous, far-fetched, or unsupported by facts it might be, as a new development. They enlist the aid of the two employees from the local paper, Bruce Foster (Tom Brown) and Toni Martin (Adrienne Dore), into their efforts. And soon Bob is corrupting wide-eyed, ambitious Toni -- who has always wanted to leave Cornwall for New York City -- with drinks and romance, much to the chagrin of his one-time paramour Maizie Dickson (Joan Blondell). Maizie, who is also a reporter, has been around the block and knows where Bob will leave Toni when he gets bored with her. The scandal-sheet reporters eventually persuade the weak-willed local prosecutor (Clarence H. Wilson) to arrest Brooks as a material witness -- an event that causes the man's pregnant wife to faint -- and bring murder charges against Mrs. Ferguson. Now the press sharks have a field day, trumpeting every nasty rumor they can pump up into a headline. Meanwhile, Bruce Foster, following the advice of Martin Collins, starts digging on his own into the case. The trial proceeds to the point where the jury is about to start deliberating when the real facts emerge, turning the whole town and the visiting press corps upside down, but not before events destroy one family and nearly wreck the town.

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Keywords

yellow-journalism, bank-personnel, courtroom, fame, journalism, killing, news, newspaper, reporter, secrets, tabloid, town, trial [courtroom]