Is My Face Red? (1932)

Film Review

IS MY FACE RED?

Release Date: 17 June, 1932

Studio: RKO

Director: William A. Seiter

Starring: Ricardo Cortez, Helen Twelvetrees, Robert ArmstrongĀ 

Synopsis

William Poster, a fast-talking, fast thinking, smart-alecky reporter, writes a gossip column, "Keyhole to the City", and prints names, no matter the consequences. The popularity of his column is the envy of other newspapermen, especially Ed Maloney of a rival newspaper. His sweetheart Peggy Bannon, a showgirl, gives him information for the column. Poster goes onboard a ship to take a look at an heiress, Mildred Huntington, who split from her fiance and is sailing to Europe. Mildred and Poster become very friendly, and she goes back to New York with him on the pilot boat. He plans to take her places. He misses a date with his sweetheart and trying to placate her, he takes her to a speakeasy. As they are sitting in a booth, the bar owner, Tony, fights and kills another man. Tony threatens Postor, who writes about the murder anyway.

Away from his office and Peggy, Poster is courting Mildred. On her yacht he meets her drunken friends. He proposes to the heiress and gives her a ring that he had previously given Peggy. In his column, he writes about Mildred's friends. Both women turn on him. Peggy tells Ed Mahoney about Poster and the two women. Maloney writes the story, but before it is published, Poster writes his own story about being jilted. Poster says that he can dish it out, and he can take it too. Poster and Mahoney get drunk in Poster's office on Poster's homemade gin. Poster is alone in his office when Tony climbs the fire escape, confronts and shoots him. Mahoney brings Poster flowers in the hospital. Maloney shows Poster the headlines. Mahoney has participated in the capture of Tony and scooped Poster with the story of his own shooting.

Discussion

This film offers a fun example of the archetypal fast-talking, brazen reporter who was a leading or supporting character in many early talkies. Other 1930's films which feature an impudent newspaperman include The Front Page (1931) with Pat O'Brien and Adolph Menjou, Blessed Event (1932) with Lee Tracy, The Picture Snatcher (1932) with James Cagney, and Front Page Woman (1935) with Bette Davis and George Brent. The viewer enjoys the companionship of these dynamic, smart-alecky, and fast thinking characters. Their devil-may-care attitude and willingness to go anywhere and do anything in order to discover and report the news provides thrills and amusement.