Release dateMay 14, 1937 (1937-05-14) (US) WriterEdmund L. Hartmann (screenplay), J. Robert Bren (screenplay), Thomas Ahearn (story) ScreenplayEdmund L. Hartmann, J. Robert Bren CastLee Tracy (Eddie Haines), Diana Gibson (Mary Bradley), Philip Huston (Alan Bennett), Paul Guilfoyle (Art Martin), Donald Meek (Potter), Tom Kennedy (Tiny) Similar moviesLee Tracy appears in Behind the Headlines and The Spellbinder
Behind the Headlines is a 1937 American drama film directed by Richard Rosson from a screenplay by Edmund Hartmann and J. Robert Bren, based on an original story by Thomas Ahearn. It was produced and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, who released the picture on March 14, 2014. The film stars Lee Tracy and Diana Gibson, with a supporting cast which includes Donald Meek, Paul Guilfoyle, Philip Huston and Frank M. Thomas.
Eddie Haines is a radio reporter, who is known for his on-the-scene reporting. This is made possible through his use of a buttonhole microphone on his lapel. His associate, Tiny, transmits Haines' reports via a wireless set in his car. Haines is romantically involved with a newspaper reporter, Mary Bradley, who he constantly scoops. Frustrated with continually getting beaten to the punch on the news, Mary decides to eavesdrop on Haines in order to turn the tables on him.
When Haines leaves his jacket with the microphone in a room where a group of gangsters is planning their next heist, he overhears their plans to knock over an armored car. Being privy to the gang's plans, Haines and Tiny plan to both get the story and foil the robbery. Unbeknownst to them, Mary has also overheard the gang's plans, as well as Haines and Tiny's scheme. She makes her own plans to scoop Haines, and steals his microphone. As she sets her plans in motion, she comes in contact with a G-man, Potter, who gains her trust. However, he is actually in the pay of the gangsters and kidnaps Mary.
Aware that their plans have been compromised, the gang changes their timetable and successfully capture the armored car. They take the armored car to the same cave in which Potter has stashed Mary. When the gang arrives with the armored car, Mary takes advantage of the distraction and uses Haines' stolen microphone to send out a distress signal. Haines, who is with the real FBI agents, hears the signal, and the agents are able to use it to pinpoint the location of the gang. As they race to the cave, Mary attempts to evade the anger of the gangsters, who have discovered her transmitter. Just in the nick of time the agents and Haines arrive to save Mary and capture the gangsters.
Lee Tracy as Eddie Haines
Diana Gibson as Mary Bradley
Donald Meek as Potter
Paul Guilfoyle as Art Martin
Philip Huston as Bennett
Frank M. Thomas as Naylor
Tom Kennedy as Tiny
Doodles Weaver as Duggan
Ralph Robertson as Announcer
Art Thalasso as Bartender
Edith Craig as Bennett's secretary
(Cast list as per AFI film database)
Harrison's Reports gave the film a mostly positive review. Although they felt the story was a bit "farfetched", they thought the film was well-paced, with plenty of excitement, and an appropriate amount of humor interspersed throughout. The Film Daily gave it a positive review, referring to it as an exciting thriller, and especially lauding the performance of Tracy, calling him "effervescent and dynamic". They also praised Gibson and Meek's performances, as well as Rosson's direction. Modern Screen gave it a less enthusiastic review, rating it at 2 out of 4 stars. They thought it was a run of the mill melodrama, only made worthwhile by the performances of Tracy and Gibson. They were also impressed with the acting of Meek, Hudson, Guilfoyle, and Kennedy. Motion Picture Daily was even less kind, calling the film's plot "far-fetched", and saying it was "just another film", good only as a second-feature. The Motion Picture Herald gave the film a very positive review, saying it "is fast-paced melodrama that never lets you down and builds to a most exciting climax." The Herald praised Tracy, and were particularly impressed with Gibson. They felt the weak point was casting Meek as the villain, although they felt he handled the role capably.