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The Commons
The Arts

Journalism goes to the movies

Film series looks at the role of the press in our society, begins with Humphrey Bogart's 'Deadline-U.S.A.'

Originally published in The Commons issue #408 (Wednesday, May 17, 2017).

BRATTLEBORO—With the role of a free press under attack, who better than Humphrey Bogart to tell us about fake news, real news, and the importance of a free, open, honest, and fearless press?

The Friends of Brooks Memorial Library, collaborating with The Commons, the Brooks Memorial Library, and the Latchis Theatre, are beginning a journalism film discussion series based on the importance of a free and impartial press and the role it plays in a democratic society.

The first film in the series is Deadline-U.S.A., a fast-moving and hard-hitting 1952 black-and-white film starring film legend Humphrey Bogart as a big-city newspaper editor whose paper is going under. He has to decide whether or not to go out with a bang and expose a dangerous criminal gang leader.

The film also stars Ethel Barrymore and Kim Hunter.

The program, free and open to the public, will be held on Sunday, May 21, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the Latchis Theatre. Randy Holhut, deputy editor of The Commons, will lead a discussion after the film.

“The great New York columnist Pete Hamill says this is a film he watches at least once a year,” Holhut said. “You can see why. This is the journalist as hero — defender of truth and dispenser of justice.”

And while Deadline-U.S.A. might seem like a period piece, Holhut says that “for a 65-year-old film, it touches on a lot of themes that you could say were ripped from the headlines — sensationalism versus honest reporting, media consolidation, and the role of the press as a check against corruption and abuses of power.

“Plus, it’s Humphrey Bogart and, for one of his lesser-known movies, it’s surprisingly good.”

Following a summer hiatus, the festival will resume again in the fall with Sweet Smell of Success, Ace in the Hole, The Front Page, and other classic journalism films telling the story of the good, the bad, and the ugly in American journalism.

The Friends are very grateful to the Latchis Theatre for donating a theater for this series.

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