Sometimes when it’s 2:30 a.m. and we’re losing our minds writing news, we think our lives would be fit for a TV show or film. Well, we’re not the only ones. Here are seven films about journalism — films that capture the struggle on screen.
7. “His Girl Friday” (1940)
Howard Hawks’ classic screwball comedy stars Cary Grant as an editor who finds out that his ex-wife, played by Rosalind Russell, intends to remarry. Jealous, Grant tries to sabotage his wife’s plans by assigning her to cover a murder, knowing she’d get so invested in it that she’d neglect her personal life. Crime, corruption and mother-in-laws all become involved, and hilarity ensues.
6. “All the President’s Men” (1976)
The definitive movie on the Watergate scandal, “All the President’s Men” follows the Washington Post investigation that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation. Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) are both still working today. Interestingly, the movie plays out the investigative story from the beginning but doesn’t end with Nixon’s resignation. Instead, it ends with Woodward and Bernstein typing out their first article about Watergate before relieving the screen to a montage of headlines about the scandal from subsequent years.
5. “Ace in the Hole” (1951)
Fired from his job at a major newspaper, Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) gets a job at a much smaller paper, the Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin, to try to work himself back up. While covering a small story, he discovers that a local man has been trapped in a collapsed cave. Billy Wilder’s “Ace in the Hole” is about the circus: the onlookers of people, the political arguments and the corruption that happens in the wake of a tragedy, when people care about their own agendas instead of the suffering.
4. “Spider-Man” (2002)
More than any other movie on this list, “Spider-Man” explores the perils and financial instability of freelance photography. High school graduate Peter Parker is occasionally able to get his photos published in New York City tabloid paper The Daily Bugle, but only because he’s the only person capable of getting clear photographs of the topic everyone in the city is talking about. J. Jonah Jameson, editor-in-chief of the paper, is capricious and unforgiving of Parker’s financial woes, refusing to offer him a permanent position at the Bugle. Also, Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
3. “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (2004)
Will Ferrell’s hilarious comedy satirizes the 1970s “action news” format, tightly formatted and male-dominated. “Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie,” released straight to DVD the same year, is a compilation of outtakes and subplots that didn’t make it into the final cut. This December, an official sequel, “Anchorman: The Legend Continues,” will be released with the cast returning.
2. “Network” (1976)
Widely considered to have one of the best screenplays of all time, “Network,” directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Paddy Chayefsky, concerns several characters working in a television network struggling with poor ratings. Howard Beale (Peter Finch) is told that he’s being laid off from the network, so he goes on a furious and inspiring rant about the meaninglessness of life on his show that night. The nation listens, and the network’s ratings spike. Beale gets his own show and becomes something of a legendary figure, eerily prescient of TV personalities like Glenn Beck and, like Beck, becomes big enough to step on his network’s toes.
1. “Citizen Kane” (1941)
What else? The successes, failures and scandals of Charles Foster Kane, media tycoon, become news itself. With Kane’s involvement in the arts and the political arena, personal life clashes with journalistic integrity and objectivity is cast aside in favor of objectives. No movie has explored the link between media and politics more deeply than “Citizen Kane.”