“You gotta cold? No wonder you’re putting the freeze on me.”
Headline Shooter is about a newsreel camera man Bill Allen (William Gargan). Bill is a lady’s man and a hot shot with his camera work. He is the guy who gets to where the news is happening before anyone else and gets the best shots by the time all the other cameramen come. He even goes where other cameramen will not go.
While covering the Long Beach earthquake he meets a tough, wisecracking female reporter named Jane Mallory (Frances Dee). She gets in the way of one of his shots but he does not stay mad at her for long. Jane and Bill decide to work together she can do the reporting and write the story for his film story. They walk all over the city gathering all kinds of stories.
News cameraman and reporter see each other throughout the week. Bill begins to fall in love with Jane, he even tells her that he has been seriously thinking about her and that she is the only woman he has considered settling down with. Jane likes him as well but her father was a reporter she knows all about the long nights and the drinking he did to finish a story. She does not want that life and that is the reason why she is engaged to a banker down in Riverport, Mississippi named Hal Caldwell (Ralph Bellamy).
Jane leaves California for Riverport. After a traumatic incident where one of his cameraman buddies dies, Bill realizes that he cannot let Jane get away so he goes after her. When he gets down to her she has a nice sized ring on her finger. Bill could not have gotten to Mississippi at a better time. The levee breaks and he and Jane sees this as a great thing to cover. They go to where the levee broke and they find that the stone used to build the levee breaks apart very easily. Bill gets the flood on camera as well as Hal breaking the stones together. Jane interviews several people. On their way back to town Bill is forced to give his footage of the levee to town officials but he keeps the footage and gives them blank film. He says that the public has the right to know the truth of what happened. Unfortunately the mayor of Riverport kills himself over Bill's film getting out to the public. Jane gets mad at him and and now without doubts know she is supposed to be with Hal.
Back in California, Jane goes to her office to resign so she can marry Hal and move with him to Riverport. As she walks out of her interview Jane is kidnapped by the gangster. Now Bill and Hal have to go look for her.
Of course they find Jane and I am sure you can guess who she winds up with in the end.
TCM aired the film as part of their Summer Under The Stars with one day being dedicated to Ralph Bellamy. Bellamy is only in the film for the last few minutes. Just as many of his parts to come he played the guy who initially has the girl but in the end he gives her up to the guy who really has the girl’s heart. I liked William Gargan I have never seen him in a film before this. I liked his character even if he was a womanizer he was not nasty about it and he was really nice to Jane. Alright now onto Frances Dee… she was so ridiculously adorable and so fabulous. She is definitely one of the most underrated actresses. I have seen so many films with her and she is excellent at playing so many different types of characters. Right from the moment Dee comes on screen she was a spitfire giving it right back to Gargan. She is the best at the end after Hal and Bill save her. As soon as everything is all clear she gets on the phone to her boss and tells her she has a big scoop for the paper. All excited Dee tells her boss “I witnessed my own rescue.” Gargan and Dee were very good together they had some good chemistry.
Max Steiner composed the score. Right off the bat you can tell it is a Steiner score if you have ever heard any of his scores. If you are a big film buff and really know Steiner’s score you will notice that his “Fanfares 1,2,3” from King Kong playing with the credits at the end.
Headline Shooter is a very good Pre-code film made by RKO. I came across this completely by accident I do not even know what made me look at the description but once I saw Frances Dee’s name of course I had to see it. But besides Dee being in the film it is really good. It is pretty odd how much it echoes today’s issues with journalism and news and the public having the right to know what is going on.
Headline Shooter was never released on VHS and it is not available on DVD. Keep an eye out on TCM’s schedule to see if the station ever airs it again. I definitely suggest seeing it.