Five Star Final


Five Star Final (1931)



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Adapted from the stage play by former newspaperman Louis Weitzenkorn, Five Star Final is an uncompromising look at the consequences of journalistic irresponsibility. Hounded by his publishers to pep up circulation with a sensational story, newspaper editor Edward G. Robinson decides to revive public interest in a long-ago murder case. He discovers that a woman (Sally Starr) who'd shot her lover nearly three decades earlier is now living under a new name and is married to a pillar of society (H.B. Warner). The woman's daughter (Marian Marsh) is just about to marry the son (Anthony Bushell) of another wealthy couple. Robinson sends one of his slimier reporters (Boris Karloff), a onetime divinical student who'd been expelled for sexual misconduct, to visit the woman and secure a photograph. The underhanded reporter disguises himself as the clergyman who will officiate at the wedding, worms his way into the family's confidence, and appropriates the photo. When the story hits the papers, the woman desperately tries to call Robinson and ask him to cease and desist, but Robinson is unmoved. The disgraced woman commits suicide, as does her husband a few moments later. The groom's parents snobbishly try to call off the wedding, but the groom stands by his fiancee's side and is disinherited. The grief-maddened daughter breaks into Robinson's office with a gun, threatening to kill him for ruining her mother. She is calmed down by her fiance, who warns Robinson that he himself will come back for revenge if the newspaper ever mentions the dead woman's name again. Five Star Final was remade in 1936 as Two Against the World, this time set in a radio station instead of a newspaper office.

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Edward G. Robinson
as Joseph Randall
Marian Marsh
as Jenny Townsend
H.B. Warner
as Michael Townsend
Anthony Bushell
as Phillip Weeks
George E. Stone
as Ziggie Feinstein
Frances Starr
as Nancy Voorhees Townsend
Ona Munson
as Kitty Carmody
Boris Karloff
as `Reverend' Vernon Isopod
Robert Elliott
as Brannegan
Aline MacMahon
as Miss Taylor
Oscar Apfel
as Hinchecliffe
Gladys Lloyd
as Miss Edwards
Evelyn Hall
as Mrs. Weeks
Harold Waldridge
as Arthur Goldberg
Polly Walters
as Telephone Operator
James Donlan
as Reporter
Frank Darien
as Schwartz
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Critic Reviews for Five Star Final

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (4)

Edward G. Robinson means a lot to this entertainment.

Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…
Top Critic

This production races along without a desultory instant.

Jun 24, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Mervyn LeRoy directed, doing a lot better with the newspaper chatter than with the long stretches of melodrama.

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

This early entry in the Warner 'social protest' cycle hasn't worn nearly so well as Hecht-Milestone's much less solemn and self-righteous The Front Page.

Jun 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

This is an offbeat but fascinating film which pillories the transgressions of the muckraking tabloids so popular in the 1920s.

Jan 31, 2012 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

A blistering indictment of tabloid journalism and built around one of Edward G. Robinson's most compelling performances.

Apr 28, 2011 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

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