A very entertaining picture. Action is here all of the time, even with and during the dialog. All of it is contained within a single setting, the press room at the court house. It’s of newspaper men, waiting in the press room for a hanging the following morning at 7a.m. General tenor may be taken from one of the reporters asking the sheriff if he can’t advance the hanging to 5a.m. so the story can make the first edition.
The star reporter for the Post is between love and a good story all the while. He has arranged for a wedding in New York, bought the tickets, but is obliged through the breaks and conniving of his managing editor to keep the girl and her mother waiting while he continues to be the reporter.
Lewis Milestone’s big idea appears to have been to keep it moving, and he does. It’s a panorama of blended action without fireworks.
A standout performance, one of three, is by Adolphe Menjou as the managing editor. He’s the cold-blooded story man, knowing only news and believing nothing should ever get in its way. Next is Mae Clarke as Molly, a prostie who is the murderer’s only sympathizer. The third is Pat O’Brien as the star reporter, who maintains the same even tempo of liveliness in his work and love making.
Ben Hecht and Chalres MacArthur turned out a stage wallop that lasted a long while through George Kaufman’s stage direction, but Bartlett Cormack’s adaptation for the screen, with Milestone, improves the original.
1930/31: Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Adolphe Menjou)