Through these difficult times for journalism we could all use a little inspiration and a little fun. How about a movie? Whether through a contemporary investigative thriller, like State of Play, or a portrayal of the tenacity and integrity that permeated those smoke-filled newsrooms in the Golden Age of broadcast news, like Good Night and Good Luck, we hope you enjoy these recommendations from CJR’s Summer Movie Club. Several weeks ago, we asked our readers to suggest movies that encompass the best, worst, and most entertaining of the reporting, editing, publishing, and broadcasting fields. Following is a compilation of those suggestions, which we hope you enjoy. Also, be sure to check out our staff’s reviews of a different movie every Friday this summer.
Absence of Malice
Paul Newman and Sally Field, 1981.
Reporter is protected by absence of malice doctrine in a slander/libel case.
Ace in the Hole (aka The Big Carnival)
Directed by Billy Wilder, 1951.
Discontented Albuquerque journalist distorts story for his own gain.
All the President’s Men
Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, 1976.
Follows reporters Woodward and Bernstein as they uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that destroyed Richard Nixon.
Written/Directed by Cameron Crowe, 2000.
A high school boy scores a dream opportunity to write a piece for Rolling Stone Magazine about a rock band, with which he goes on tour.
Directed by Robert Connolly, 2009.
A war correspondent travels to East Timor in 1975 to investigate the disappearances of five journalists and develops a friendship with the man who would become president.
Between the Lines
John Heard and Lindsey Crouse, 1977.
Chronicles the struggle of an underground newspaper in Boston about to be taken over by big business.
Bill Cunningham New York
Directed by Richard Press, 2010.
A documentary portrait of the stalwart New York fashion photographer Bill Cunningham.
Directed by Edward Zwick, 2006.
Chronicles the stories of those wrapped up in the conflict diamond industry in politically unstable Sierra Leone.
Written/Directed by Tim Robbins, 1992.
A conservative folk singer runs a sleazy election campaign while an independent muckraking reporter tries to bring it down.
Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas, 2006.
A Chicago reporter investigates the mysterious deaths of factory workers in Juarez, a Mexican border town.
William Hurt and Holly Hunter, 1987.
A love triangle between two rival male reporters, one flashy and one substantive, and a female producer represents the larger dilemma between these two styles of news.
Call Northside 777
Directed by Henry Hathaway, 1948.
A Chicago reporter revisits an old murder trial because of a newspaper ad put out by the alleged murderer’s mother and is met with resistance when he discovers that the man might be innocent.
The China Syndrome
Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon, 1979.
A reporter witnesses an accident at a nuclear power plant, which she plans to write about despite the threat from a conspiracy to keep the incident quiet.
Directed by Orson Welles, 1941.
Reporters investigate the life of a deceased newspaper tycoon in order to discover the meaning of the last word he spoke.
The Day the Earth Caught Fire
Edward Judd, Janet Munro, and Leo McKern, 1961.
British reporters discover an impending disaster for Earth, which is on track to collide with the sun, despite an international cover-up attempt.
Humphrey Bogart and Kim Hunter, 1952.
An editor tries to take a last stand as his newspaper is up for sale by exposing a gangster in the paper’s final three issues.
The Devil Came on Horseback
Written/Directed by Anne Sundberg and Ricki Stern, 2007.
A documentary on the genocide in Darfur from the perspective of a US marine.
The Devil Wears Prada
Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep, 2006.
An aspiring journalist settles for a job as assistant to one of the fashion world’s most powerful editors and faces difficult decisions after she gets wrapped up in the fashion world.
Chevy Chase and Joe Don Baker, 1985.
A Los Angeles journalist goes undercover to investigate the drug trade on the beach, but discovers even more sinister goings-on.
Directed by Michael Oblowitz, 2003.
A freelance agent becomes embroiled in political corruption and violent conflict when he agrees to transport an unknown package from France to Germany.
The Front Page
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, 1974.
An editor convinces a top Chicago reporter ready to leave the profession for a quieter life to stay on and write about an insane murderer set to go to the gallows.
Good Night and Good Luck
George Clooney wrote, directed and starred, 2005.
The story of CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow’s crusade to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.