The other night I was tapping away at the kitchen table, the island, the brownish stone expanse where our family has met and ate and celebrated for decades. Almost plural. It will soon be replaced as part of a kitchen upgrade - you know, fridge, stove. Everything’s been the same for 20 years, and while I love it, I’m done with it.
Anyway, my phone rings: Daughter. Huh: it’s midnight her time. Anything wrong? I don’t think so. But her generation doesn’t call.
Except when they do, I guess. She said she was walking back from the radio studio, and her headphones were dead, and figured she’d call up and chat. At no point and at no time did I even think about noting that I’d sent her off with batteries and cables, because that would be too Dadesque. But I felt a sense of failure. If there’s one example I’ve tried to set, it’s battery management, and portable backup power. Sigh. I am disappoint.
But we have to stifle that, which is easy since I’m delighted to hear from her, and -
Hold on, radio studio?
Didn’t I tell you? I’m interning at the college radio station.
NOO you didn’t, and that’s fantastic! Tell me more.
It’s a late-night show, free-form, music interspersed with chat about late-night-type topics. Crime, mass hysteria, hoaxes, conspiracies, all that fun stuff, done with a light tone. I asked if she’d cracked the mike and spoken, and yes, she had indeed. It was great fun!
To put this in perspective: my first year of college was a lonely failure, an atom dropped in the heaving sea of a big town and a big school; she, in her second semester, is interning at the radio station, working on a TV show the school does, working on the college humor paper, and has just been accepted into this film-nerd fraternity. And the class she had the next day was introduction to advertising.
You can imagine how proud I am about all of this.
Let’s go to the tape! They were discussing Patty Hearst, the Stockholm syndrome, and I hear this:
What cracked me up was this little aside, in a discussion about some German story.
That’s a good line. No, I won’t steal it.
Oh, btw, as for that event:
What have we this week?
Hurrah! A newspaper yarn. Those are always good for a laugh, if you know the industry, but those of us in the trade like a good Newspaper Yarn because it makes us feel all cynical and yet crusading.
It does not begin in a newspaper office. Two sporting gentlemen, as they would be described at the time, are walking down the street . . .
They are headed off to the shoe-shine stand, since the options for African-American in a non-race movie consist of porter, shoe-shiner, servant, or musician.
A white guy is getting his shoes shined, and overhears the conversation. We know he's bad.
He pays keen attention as the men discuss the clever gambit they've invted, asks what’s going on, gets the skinny, then goes to a bar and tells his criminal cohort that he’s tumbled on the greatest idea ever.
He’s discovered the numbers racket.
How stupid do they think we are?
Anyway, his pal goes for it, so it's off to terrorize the people who invented the numbers:
He has to go up against the reigning boss, and I love this guy:
I think he has heard a line of booshwa from time to time in his life.
He strong-arms everyone else and takes over the racket. Just like that. Before you know it, he has white guys doing it, and you know what that means - Montage!
Hey, isn't this supposed to be a newspaper movie? Yes, but it's front-loaded with the sort of CRIME a crusading editor has to SMASH.
We switch to the home of the newspaper editor we'll be following through the picture, and he's putzing with the radio. TV was like this at the start, too. Always somethig going wrong. I love this little interplay, right down to the slight bit of WC Fields.
All the stations go off the air because a ship is in distress, and needs all bandwidth to send its distress. It’s a gambling ship from Cuba. It was called the Machado.
It's a reference to the Morro Castle, probably. Caught fire in 1930 and took 30 souls.
Am I wandering around a bit? I am. Sorry. Franchot Tone plays a spoiled playboy lawyer, Franchot Tone, who finds his mettle and self-respect when he goes after the mob, with the newspaper's help.
Except he’s callow about that, which is why he takes up a plane to shoot pictures of the doomed burning Machado - which, by the way, has as a passenger the father of the girl who shamed him into taking on the rackets.
She’s from the wrong side of the tracks, but spunky and good!
She's reading The American magazine, and no, I can't find the cover. Anyway, she's 10X the person the editor's fiancee will ever be, because she’s spoiled rotten, shallow, and cares not for her lessers.
Gosh, I wonder if he'll dump the chilly skirt and throw his lot in with the good girl who represents America and also the target audience.
One more thing: Here’s the oily bad guy with Pops or Gramps or whoever the kindly old grocer is.
Let’s look at the shelves:
Ell-O and upside-down boxes, because no, we ain't payin' you any royalties.
That will do; off on another week. High hopes! But dreaded Tuesday looms.