For Reel

The Famous Ferguson Case (1932)
September 6, 2012, 12:22 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lloyd Bacon

The early 1930s were a gruelingly productive period for star Joan Blondell. In contract with Warner Brothers, she made a total of 38 pictures between 1930 and 1934, establishing her as one of the most prolific starlets of the pre-Code era. One of the ten pictures that she made in 1932 was The Famous Ferguson Case, a largely forgotten but nonetheless entertaining crucifixion of yellow journalism. Bruce Foster plays a small town reporter who aspires to make it to the big city. When he breaks the story of the murder of a local banker, reporters from New York flock to his turf to cover the case. Kenneth Thomson, as the most dastardly of the reporters, does little in the way of writing, but instead spreads gossip and creates false leads that wrongfully persecute the wife of the deceased. As much as the film bastardizes this type of sensationalist journalism, its thematic concern was simplified for mass audience consumption – stick out of other people’s business. Blondell, who shot the picture concurrently with Howard Hawks’ racing drama The Crowd Roars, is the best part of the production, a world-weary young reporter who has been eaten up by big city living. The script’s frequent soliloquies often ring false, but Blondell’s plea to a small-town girl to not be seduced by Thomson’s promises is particularly effective.