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LAW, THE HUMANITIES AND THE MEDIA

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Videographies: Films and Television About Law and the Media                                                                        PE03257A.gif (4096 bytes)

                                                                        Films     

In general, films that feature the media are concerned with the ethics of the media and with the clash between the media and the power of government or the rights of individuals. Thus, defamation, muck raking and government conspiracy are popular plot devices. Film journalists are also often involved in the righting of wrongs done by the legal system; the image of the journalist or reporter as the only individual capable of uncovering the truth once the law has condemned the innocent is a very popular one.

Absence of Malice (1981). A young reporter prints a story that seems to defame a liquor distributor and causes a woman to commit suicide. Is the story defensible? Starring Sally Field as the reporter who unwittingly defames businessman Paul Newman.

All the President’s Men (1976). Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffmann are Woodward and Bernstein, the pair of investigative journalists who stumble onto the truth about the 1972 Watergate break-in and bring down a President. Based on the book by Woodward and Bernstein. So many lawyers were involved in the cover-up that U. S. law schools eventually instituted a legal ethics course requirement for graduation.

The Adventurous Blonde (1937).

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). Stars Will Ferrell as incompetent and egotistical anchorman Ron Burgundy.

Bell, Book, and Candle (1958).  Jimmy Stewart is a publisher who falls in love with the enigmatic creature (Kim Novak) who lives downstairs. There’s only one problem: she’s a witch.

Bewitched (2005). A movie whose inspiration is the 1964-1972 television series. Nicole Kidman plays the Samantha Stevens part; Will Ferrell is the actor cast as “Darren.”

Beyond Suspicion (TVM 1994). Journalist witnesses a murder.

Broadcast News (1987). Holly Hunter, William Hurt and Albert Brooks in a satire about the TV news business.

Call Northside 777 (1947). Jimmy Stewart is the investigative journalist who takes up the cause of an unjustly convicted man.

The China Syndrome (1979). Jane Fonda is the reporter who covers allegations of fraud at a nuclear power plant.

Deadline (1982). Journalist discovers illegal experimentation in nuclear weapons.

Death in Granada (1997). A journalist investigates the disappearance of poet Federico Garcia Lorca.

Deliberate Intent (2000).  Rodney Smolla takes the case for the plaintiff in the Paladin Press case. Based on the book of the same name.

Down With Love (2003). Barbara Novak (Renee Zellweger), a feminist writer, locks horns with journalist Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor). A tribute to the 1950s and 1960s films made by Doris Day and Rock Hudson.

Fletch Lives (1989). Journalist Fletch (Chevy Chase) inherits a ramshackle mansion in Louisiana and becomes involved in intrigue and murder.

The Front Page (1931).  Hildy Johnson, newly engaged and planning to quit big city journalism, covers one more story. Remade as His Girl Friday and Switching Channels.

The Front Page (1974). Remake of the 1931 version.  Starring Jack Lemmon.

Gentleman's Agreement (1947). Gregory Peck as the journalist who decides to investigate anti-Semitism in post-WWII America.

Good Advice (2001).  Unemployed stockbroker Charlie Sheen takes over his absent girlfriend’s advice column and turns it into a media sensation.

Good Neighbor Sam (1964). Jack Lemmon as an advertising executive who helps a friend collect on an inheritance.

Good Night and Good Luck (2005). George Clooney’s study of Edward R. Murrow and his take-down of Senator Joe McCarthy on the program See It Now.

High Society (1956).  Musical remake of The Philadelphia Story, with Bing Crosby in the Cary Grant role, and Grace Kelly in the Katherine Hepburn role. Frank Sinatra plays the reporter who falls for Kelly. Terrific songs by Cole Porter. One of Kelly’s last films before she married Prince Rainier. Trivia: Kelly also made a film with Grant (who had made The Philadelphia Story): To Catch a Thief, released in 1955, during the course of which she met Rainier.

His Girl Friday (1940). Rosalind Russell leaves the newspaper business but her editor and ex-husband Cary Grant won’t take no for an answer.

How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days (2003). Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) writes a “how-to” exposé of the dating scene.

I Love Trouble (1994).  As reporters for rival Chicago papers, Sabrina Peterson (Julia Roberts) and Peter Brackett (Nick Nolte) battle over the Big Story in this updated homage to the clever William Powell/Myrna Loy films of the thirties. The McGuffin is a mysterious animal “hormone”, which they chase all over the place, falling in love in the process.

The Image (TVM 1990). Albert Finney as a journalist with a crisis of conscience.

In and Out (1997). A teacher finds himself outed; the journalists descend.

The Insider ().

It Happened One Night (Frank Capra dir. 1934). Reporter Clark Gable chases after heiress Claudette Colbert—and a hot story—when she leaves her fiancé at the altar.

Journalists Killed in the Line of Duty (documentary)

Kolchak: The Night Stalker (TV series,  1974-1975). Began as a made for television film, Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1972), followed by Kolchak: The Night Strangler. Starred Darren McGavin as reporter Carl Kolchak, a skeptic who regularly investigated the paranormal but could never publish his stories because no one, including his editor, would believe what he discovered. Available on DVD. A short-lived attempt at reviving the series aired in the fall of 2005. The original series and tv movies are available on DVD.

Libeled Lady (1936). Spencer Tracy as a sleazy editor out for a good story; William Powell as the friend willing to provide it; Myrna Loy as the socialite ready to sue for defamation.

Lover Come Back (1961). Two advertising execs, Carol Templeton (Doris Day) and Jerry Webster (Rock Hudson), battle over a fake account.

Medium Cool (1969). Haskell Wexler’s documentary about the Democratic convention in Chicago.

Murphy Brown (TV series,  1988-1998). Starred Candice Bergen as Murphy Brown. “Murph”gained fame when then Vice President Dan Quayle excoriated the fictional investigative journalist for having a baby out of wedlock. Season one now available on DVD.

My Favorite Martian (1999). Based on the television series of the same name; starring Christopher Lloyd as the Martian.

New Suit (2002). An ambitious screenwriter invents a screenplay to one-up his friends and his hoax gets out of hand.

The Mean Season (1985). Kurt Russell is an ambitious journalist who becomes the story.

Network

Newsies (1992). A musical about the 1899 newsboys strike against Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst.

Open Season (1992). A ratings specialist goes to work for a public broadcasting station at the same time that the ratings company's computer malfunctions; result, instant high ratings for the PBS station and general anarchy in television-land.

Paparazzi (2004). An actor decides to take matters into his own hands after paparazzi cause a near fatal car crash.

The Paper (1994). Michael Keaton is a tabloid editor. Directed by Ron Howard.

The Parallax View (1974). A journalist uncovers a plot and the truth about a Senator’s assassination. Stars Warren Beatty in one of the films (along with McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Shampoo) that made him famous.

The People vs. Larry Flynt (). A dramatization of the battle between Larry Flynt and the law over Hustler magazine.

The Philadelphia Story (1940).  Reporter Jimmy Stewart covers socialite Katherine Hepburn’s wedding. Later remade as a musical, High Society, starring Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby.

Runaway Bride

Rear Window (). Hitchcock's study of voyeurism, with Jimmy Stewart as the photographer who becomes intrigued with the activities of his neighbors.

Reckless Disregard (). Leslie Nielsen is a nationally journalist who accuses a physician of "drug pushing" at a New York clinic. Tess Harper is the attorney who takes the doctor's case.

Reds (1981). Warren Beatty as journalist John Reed (Ten Days that Shook the World) involved in the Russian Revolution.

Roxie Hart (1942). A pretty girl admits to murder to further her career. Starring Ginger Rogers. Later the basis for the musical Chicago.

Scoop (dir. Woody Allen, 2006). Woody Allen is third-rate magician “Splendini” (Sid Waterman), stuck in London, who helps journalism student Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) with the biggest story of her young life—a scoop from beyond the grave handed to her by dead reporter Joe Strombel (Ian McShane).

Selling Hitler (TV Miniseries, 1991). Docudrama

Shattered Glass (2003). Based on an article by Buzz Bissinger, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist. Stars Hayden Christensen as ambitious journalist Stephen Glass and Peter Sarsgaard as his editor Chuck Lane.

Simone (aka S1Mone) (2002). Al Pacino is director Victor Taransky, who decides to cut down on problems with his actors by inventing a leading lady.

Superman (1978). The original big screen film, starring Christopher Reeve as the Caped One. In his alter ego, he is Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, the leading paper of Metropolis. Margot Kidder plays Lois Lane. This film led to three sequels.

Superman Returns (2006). Brandon Routh plays an updated Superman, with Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, with child in tow. Frank Langella is editor Perry White.

Switching Channels (1988). An update of The Front Page with Kathleen Turner in the Pat O’Brien role.

Videodrome (1983). A TV executive discovers that his station is part of a conspiracy to dominate human minds. Directed by David Cronenberg. Not for the squeamish.

Wag the Dog

Word of Honor (1981).  Journalist Karl Malden refuses to disclose his source on an important story in spite of a court order.

See also the website The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture at http://www.ijpc.org/.

 

Television

The Andros Targets (1977).

Bewitched (1964-1972). Samantha Stevens is a witch and her husband Darren is in advertising.

Capitol News (1990).

Deadline (TV series, NBC, 2000-2001). Starred Oliver Platt as reporter Wallace Benton.

The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961---1966).

Dirt (2007--). This tv series stars Courteney Cox as the ruthless editor of a tabloid newspaper that dishes "dirt" about celebrities.

Early Edition (1996--).

The Front Page (1949-1950). Based on the film of the same name.

Ink (1996-1997). Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen are just-divorced journalists compelled to work at the same paper.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1973). Carl Kolchak, a sloppy but intense reporter for the imaginary INS (Independent News Service), based in Chicago, constantly finds himself involved in research into paranormal and weird phenomena. The police, mayor, and his own boss are always trying to bury his stories. Kolchak's continuing battle with the cops leads to his many statements about the freedom of the press and demands to be allowed to view and photograph crime scenes. The police invariably confiscate his film, leaving him with no evidence of his amazing discoveries.  Themes of conspiracy, the individual searching for truth, and vigilantism are present throughout the episodes of this series. The two pilot movies and all of the episodes are available on Columbia House Home Video. Chris Carter, creator of the X-Files television series, credits this television series with inspiring him.

The Kolchak: The Night Stalker Home Page

Kolchak: The Night Stalker

The SCI-FI Kolchak: The Night Stalker Page

Lou Grant (1977--1982).

Love & War (1991--1995).

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970--1977).

My Favorite Martian (TV series, 1963-1965). Reporter Tim O’Hara finds a crashed spaceship with a Martian inside. He takes the alien home and for two years gives him an alternate identity as “My Uncle Martin”. One of the first “friendly alien” television shows.

NewsRadio (1995-1999).

Night Heat (1985).

Target: The Corrupters (1961).

Urban Angel (1991).

V (TV miniseries about an alien invasion and Earth's resistance led by a journalist)

 

Bibliographies

Australian Media Law and Policy Bibliography

Loren Ghiglione, The American Journalist: Fiction vs. Fact

A Guide to Internet/Bitnet Bibliography

Journalism Studies (University of Papua New Guinea)

Libel Defense Resource Center Bibliography

McCoy, Ralph E., Freedom of the Press Bibliography

LSU Law LIbrary Media Law Pathfinder

Resources for Journalism Students

Solomon, Nancy, Bibliography for the TV Cops Report

Treatises

Badsy, Stephen, The Depiction of War Reporters in Hollywood Feature Films from the Vietnam War to the Present, 14(3/4) Film History: An International Journal 243-260 (2002).    

Baird, Robert, Journalism and the Media, in The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past 374-372 (Peter C. Rollins ed.; NY: Columbia University Press, 2003).

Erhlich, Matthew C., Journalism in the Movies (Urbana: University of Illinois, 2004).

Good, Howard, The Drunken Journalist: The Biography of a Film Stereotype (Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000).

Good, Howard, Girl Reporter: Gender, Journalism and the Movies (Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998).

Good, Howard, Outcasts: The Image of Journalists in Contemporary Film (Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield, 1989).

Green, Norma Fay, The Front Page on Film as a Case Study as American Journalism Mythology in Motion (Dissertation, Michigan State University, 1993).

Hume, Ellen, The Weight of Watergate,  in Defining Moments in Journalism 53-57 (Nancy J. Woodhull and Robert J. Snyder, eds.; Brunswick NJ: Transaction Books, 1998).         Discusses Watergate journalism and All the President’s Men.

Horton, Andrew, Absence of Malice and the Press: An Interview with Paul Newman, 12(1) Cineaste 54-55 (1982).

Howarth, William, The Mother of Literature: Journalism and The Grapes of Wrath, in New Essays on The Grapes of Wrath 71-99 (David Wyatt ed.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

Langener-Burns, Heidi M., The Image of Journalists in American Film and Fiction from 1975 to 1987: An Application of Leo Lowenthal’s Model (Dissertation, --).

Langman, Larry, Media in the Movies: A Catalog of American Journalism, 1900-1996 (McFarland, 1998).

Ness, Richard R., From Headline Hunter to Superman: A Journalism Filmography (Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997).

Regester, Charlene, The African-American Press and Race Movies, 1909-1929, in Oscar Micheaux and His Circle: African_American Filmmaking and Race Cinema of the Silent Era 34-49 (Pearl Bowser, Jane Gaines and Charles Musser eds.; Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001).

Valle, Victor, A Chicago Reporter in “Hispanic Hollywod”: Editorial Agendas and the Culture of Professional Journalism, in Chicanos and Film: Representation and Resistance 261-272 (Chon A. Noriega ed.; Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992).

 

 

 

 

WEBSITES

The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture