AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Alternate Title: The Dark Page
Director: Phil Karlson (Dir)
Release Date:   Jan 1952
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 16 Jan 1952
Production Date:   late Apr--mid-May 1951
Duration (in mins):   81-82
Duration (in reels):   9
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Cast:   Broderick Crawford (Mark Chapman, also known as George Grant)  
    Donna Reed (Julie Allison)  
    John Derek (Steve McCleary)  
    Rosemary DeCamp (Charlotte Grant)  
    Henry O'Neill (Charlie Barnes)  
    Henry ["Harry"] Morgan (Biddle)  
    James Millican (Lt. Davis)  
    Griff Barnett (Judge Hacker)  
    Jonathan Hale (Frank Madison)  
    Pierre Watkin (Baxter)  
    Ida Moore (Needle Nellie)  
    Ralph Reed (Joey)  
    Luther Crockett (Jordan)  
    Charles Cane (Heeney)  
    Jay Adler (Bailey)  
    Don Beddoe (Pete)  
    Shirlee Allard (Switchboard operator)  
    Pat Williams (Telephone operator)  
    Raymond Largay (Conklin)  
    Edna Holland (Mrs. Penwick)  
    Kathryn Card (Mrs. Rawley)  
    Cliff Clark (O'Hanlon)  
    Victoria Horne (Mary)  
    Matt Willis (Joe)  
    Eugene Baxter (Edwards)  
    Katherine Warren (Mrs. Allison)  
    Harry Hines (Toothless bum)  
    John "Skins" Miller (Drunk bum)  
    Peter Virgo (Reporter)  
    Ric Roman (Reporter)  
    Tom Kingston (Reporter)  
    Charles Colean (Reporter)  
    Mike Mahoney (Reporter)  
    Gary Owen (Addled bum)  
    Guy Wilkerson (Janitor)  
    Duke Watson (Policeman)  
    Harry Wilson (Bum)  
    Ralph Volkie (Bum)  
    Helen Brown    

Summary: Ambitious New York Express reporter Steve McCleary delivers his latest scoop on a brutal murder to his executive editor and mentor, Mark Chapman, who is pleased. Chapman then attends a meeting called by stockholders upset by the paper's slide into tabloid excess, but Chapman points out that the steady rise of circulation is providing large dividends. When feature reporter Julie Allison loses a bet with Steve, she is forced to take him and Chapman out to dinner. On the way, the trio runs into Charlie Barnes, a formerly successful editor now on the skids, whom Julie tries to help. After dinner, Chapman and the others attend an Express -sponsored event called the Lonely Hearts Club, where singles are enticed by slick prizes to find a possible mate. Chapman is stunned when Charlotte Grant, the wife he abandoned twenty years earlier, approaches him from the crowd. Chapman agrees to speak with her and they go to her run-down room, where she demands an explanation for his behavior and change of identity. Chapman offers her a hasty divorce and settlement, but when Charlotte announces her intention to ruin Chapman by disclosing his past, he angrily shoves her against the wall, causing her to strike her head sharply against a pipe and die. Frightened, Chapman hastily removes all Charlotte's personal identification, a pawn ticket and the Lonely Hearts Club membership tag and destroys everything except the pawn ticket. The next morning, Steve is the first reporter at the murder scene and discovers pieces of the Lonely Hearts tag. After getting additional information from a contact at the morgue, Steve matches the crime photo with the Lonely Hearts Club's member photo, but still has no identification. He excitedly presents the photos and melodramatic story to Chapman, who shakily agrees to release an extra edition with a feature on the Lonely Hearts murder. Later that evening, Chapman goes to the pawnshop, but just outside runs into Charlie. Anxious to get rid of him, Chapman thrusts some money at the older man, not realizing the pawn ticket is included with the bills. Chapman hurries away and, curious, Charlie uses the ticket to claim a suitcase. Inside he discovers two framed photos, one of Charlotte with a man in profile, and the other of Charlotte and Chapman. Recognizing Charlotte from the newspaper account and realizing Chapman must be her murderer, Charlie hastens to a bar, where he calls Julie and declares he knows the identity of the killer. Certain that Charlie is drunk, she gives the phone to Steve, who laughs at Charlie's declaration and suggests he tell his story to the competing newspaper, The Leader . Meanwhile, in his office, Chapman realizes he has lost the pawn ticket and learns of Charlie's accusation from Steve. Charlie takes the photo of Charlotte and Chapman and leaves the other in the suitcase at the bar. A block away from The Leader offices, however, Charlie is stopped by Chapman, who demands the photo, then beats the older man to death. The next morning at the morgue, Steve, who is upset by Charlie's death and Julie's emotional response, investigates and quickly locates the suitcase, which, along with the remaining photo, includes papers with a marriage date in Connecticut. Steve takes the articles to Chapman and states that he believes the woman's husband is the man in the photo and that he must be the murderer. Chapman agrees to let Steve publish the photo and continue his pursuit, even posting a $1,000 reward for more information. Steve rounds up several tramps to get details about Charlie's final hours, and one man admits to seeing Charlie speaking with a man on the street outside the pawnshop. Steve brings the man to Chapman, but he fails to recognize him. Later that afternoon, Steve discovers that Julie has resigned and goes to her apartment to convince her to help him solve the case. She agrees to help him scour Connecticut records to find the judge or clergyman who married the couple in the photo. Chapman grows anxious, but allows Steve and Julie to go to Connecticut for a week, then calls Connecticut information to find Judge Hacker, with no results. After three days, Steve and Julie have no information, and Chapman orders them to return. Steve insists on staying the full week and shortly afterward receives a call from the retired Judge Hacker, who has a photograph matching the one posted. Steve wires Chapman and late that night at the Express offices, Steve and Julie bring in Judge Hacker, who has identified the photo as that of George and Charlotte Grant, a couple he married twenty years earlier. Chapman orders the judge to be placed in protective care at a local hotel, but when he offers to privately escort him, Judge Hacker refuses, having recognized him. Steve is incredulous, but Julie believes him and declares that traces of hair and skin under Charlotte's nails can support the judge's claim. When Chapman draws a gun and confesses, an appalled Steve calls the police. Lt. Davis arrives just as Chapman is giving Steve instructions on how to lay out the next day's paper with the confession headline. When Davis draws his gun upon hearing the details, Chapman turns and fires into the ground, and Davis shoots and kills him. With Steve's story about the Lonely Hearts murder in the morning paper, Express circulation hits an all-time high. 

Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
  Motion Picture Investors, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Director: Phil Karlson (Dir)
Producer: Edward Small (Prod)
Writer: Ted Sherdeman (Scr)
  Eugene Ling (Scr)
  James Poe (Scr)
Photography: Burnett Guffey (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Robert Peterson (Art dir)
Film Editor: Jerome Thoms (Film ed)
Set Decoration: William Kiernan (Set dec)
Costumes: Jean Louis (Gowns)
Music: Morris Stoloff (Mus dir)
  George Duning (Mus score)
Sound: Jack Goodrich (Sd eng)
Make Up: Clay Campbell (Makeup)
  Helen Hunt (Hair styles)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the novel The Dark Page by Samuel Fuller (New York, 1944).
Authors: Samuel Fuller

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Columbia Pictures Corp. 16/1/1952 dd/mm/yyyy LP1600

PCA NO: 15405
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Recording
  b&w:

 
Genre: Mystery
Sub-Genre: Newspaper
 
Subjects (Major): Duplicity
  Editors
  Investigations
  Murder
  Newspapers
  Scandal
 
Subjects (Minor): Aliases
  Bars
  Bathtubs
  Business ethics
  Contests
  Drunkenness
  Hotels
  Judges
  Morgues
  Pawnshops
  Photographs
  Police detectives
  Reporters
  Stockholders
  Suitcases
  Tramps
  Wife murder

Note: The working title of the film was The Dark Page . A 1948 LAT news item indicated that John Payne was set to star in the film for producer Sidney Buchman. Two years later a HR item noted that William Holden was to co-star with Broderick Crawford for producer Jules Schermer. According to the same item, Ted Sherdeman was rewriting George Bruce's script, but Bruce's contribution to the final film, if any, has not been confirmed. Another 1950 HR item announced that agent Arthur Landau was suing Columbia for $10,000, claiming to have presented the property to Schermer and the studio.
       The same item revealed that author Sam Fuller was also in litigation against Famous Artists Corp. According to the news item, Fuller sold his novel, The Dark Page , to H-F Productions for $15,000, and director Howard Hawks spent $25,000 on pre-production for producer Jules Furthman. Monterey Productions later purchased the novel, then sold it to Motion Pictures Investors, Inc., which then sold it to Columbia for $10,000. In his suit, Fuller claimed the novel's worth was $100,000. A 1951 HR item indicates that Fuller's successful production of The Steel Helmet (see entry below) revived interest in producing The Dark Page . Modern sources note that prior to his film career, screenwriter, producer and director Fuller was a crime reporter, novelist, tramp and soldier. The dispositions of Landau's and Fuller's suits have not been determined. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   2 Feb 1952.   
Daily Variety   9 Jan 52   p. 3.
Film Daily   15 Jan 52   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Aug 50   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Sep 50   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Apr 51   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Apr 51   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   11 May 51   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Jan 52   p. 3.
Los Angeles Times   21 May 1948.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   12 Jan 52   p. 1186.
New York Times   17 Jan 52   p. 23.
Variety   30 Aug 1950.   
Variety   9 Jan 52   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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