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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Metro Stops The Presses


Copy (1929) Has Newshounds In Natural Habitat

Of days when news gatherers worked city rooms in shirtsleeve and had lunch out of pails, this was another of talkers to show the print game as hard-bitten and not for softies. It was known within a season of sound that reporters were a cynical lot that breathed black humor and round-clock lifestyle. In all of precode, I don't recall seeing one of them sleep. Copy is a two-reeler to encapsulate what was already a sub-genre, and what's the wonder, as transplanted news scribes were already taking charge of scenario departments all over lotus land. These imports to Hollywood brought urban awareness to make silent scribes look anemic. A famous wire sent by Herman Mankiewicz promised east coast peers of easy filmworld pickings and competition limited to "idiots," that summing up his and other newcomer's stance re colleagues at the studios. Copy reflects casual attitude toward matters most took serious, news staff waiting for a senator to "croak" so they can get his obit in the morning edition, etc. Lead scribbler (Roscoe Karns) is brought up short by family crisis, sentiment winning out in Hollywood, if not at press rooms in New York. Goose to Copy narrative turns on General Slocum-like sinking of a ferry boat filled with mothers and offspring. Is editor Karns' wife and child among them? He and Copy cast do about face on wisecracking when it looks that way, so maybe ink slingers are human after all. Copy is among Warner Archives' Classic Shorts From The Dream Factory --- Volume Two.

3 Comments:

Blogger Dave K said...

Roscoe Karns! The voice, ever grating! The forelock, ever present! One of my absolute favorites!

9:07 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer points us to a later Roscoe Karns series for TV:


Roscoe Karns wound up his career as Rocky King in "Rocky King, Inside Detective," a Dumont Television Network series broadcast live from January 1, 1950 to December 31, 1954. The "inside" must have referred to the network, as typical Dumont economies incorporated offices and corridors in DuMont's New York headquarters. There was little action, but Karns' engaging personality and way with a line carried the show. The voice remained the same, but the hair having thinned somewhat, the forelock was no longer on display.

11:58 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Micheal Hayde shares some interesting data re "Copy" from a contemporary column:


John,

Here's a little background on Karns and "Copy," courtesy of Louella Parsons' column of February 26, 1929:

"Something in knowing how to play a reporter. So few movie actors ever get
the right slant on newspaper life. Roscoe Karns, who played Hildy Johnson
in 'The Front Page' and scored a big local hit on the stage, is going to
take what he learned in that play and repeat it in 'Copy,' a newspaper
story he is about to make with Norman Huston directing. 'Copy' is by
Kendall Banning and has a good title. Let's hope it will be worthy of the
honor of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for MGM is the company signing the versatile
Mr. Karns. James Donlin, one of the best comedy reliefs in 'The Front Page'
will also take himself and his talents to MGM to play in 'Copy.'"

11:55 AM  

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