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Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane

Drew Spencer uncovers the sensational, soaraway history of journalism on film

Simon Pegg’s Sidney Young is the latest in a long list of big screen journalists holding the front page with a sensational scoop. The daddy of them all, 1941’s Citizen Kane, has Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) driving everyone mental banging on about ‘rosebud’ during downtime whilst becoming a media mogul. Less epic, but way funnier is Howard Hawk’s His Girl Friday where editor Cary Grant and star reporter Rosalind Russell wrestle with headlines and each other, setting the standard for one-liners about grumpy editors. Keeping the grumpy editor theme alive more recently is impeccably dressed Meryl Streep who’s style mag gaffer drove serious journalistic wannabe Anne Hathaway crazy in The Devil Wears Prada. Of course, some are more than willing to compromise their high falutin’ beliefs. Case in point: Hayden Christensen’s Stephen Glass in the underrated Shattered Glass, the true story of a reporter who made up most of his stories – and then got found out. Life doesn’t get any easier for editor Henry Hackett (Michael Keaton) in 1994’s The Paper as we follow a sticky 24 hours in his life juggling potential scoops, neglected wives and terrorising publishers. The result is a tight, funny and thoughtful film. There are no such subtleties when a feature piece by a New York writer leads to love in the classic romantic comedy Crocodile Dundee – a film in which we learn what a real knife is. Romance is never quite as acerbic and volatile as it was in Cary Grant’s day, as Drew Barrymore’s Never Been Kissed and Kate Hudson’s How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days both attest. Working for Rolling Stone seems infinitely better craic however – see Hunter S Thompson headtrip/biopic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous.

And don’t forget – reporters can also save the planet. ‘Mild-mannered’ Clark Kent does just that in Superman – didn’t see him type a word mind you. And how can we forget good old-fashioned, shoddy disguise-sporting, investigative journalism from Chevy Chase’s Fletch? It’s all ball bearings these days.


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