Headline is a 1943 British crime film set against the backdrop of a big city news room.
David Farrar is “Brookie” Brooks, ace crime reporter for The Sun. He’s under pressure from his news editor, the hardbitten L.B. Ellington (John Stuart), since Dell (a rather young-looking William Hartnell) of The Daily Record seems to keep beating him to scoops. Now a juicy murder story seems to offer Brookie the chance to steal a march on his rival but Brookie uncovers a piece of evidence that puts him in a difficult dilemma.
We know who the murderer is right from the start, and right from the start we also know that the Mystery Woman spotted at the scene of the crime is Ellington’s wife Margaret (Antoinette Cellier) so this is a suspense film rather than a mystery film.
While Brookie and Dell are frantically trying to out-scoop each other they’re not neglecting their love lives. Brookie’s girlfriend is Sun newspaperwoman Anne (Anne Crawford) but their romance faces one major obstacle - Brookie is already married, to his job, and he thinks it would be unfair to ask any woman to marry a reporter.
There is however a more serious side to this movie and the suspense story is pretty effective with a nice twist at the end. There’s also a surprisingly serious and subtle treatment of newspaper ethics and it takes a slightly jaundiced view of the newspaper game.
John Harlow’s career as a director was far from glittering but he does a solid enough job here and there are one or two fairly atmospheric moments.
The script is very competent and the balance of humour, romance and suspense is just about right.
Headline is basically a B-movie and it’s really rather lightweight but the well-executed and suspenseful ending makes it worthwhile and as a bonus the climactic action scene takes place on a train. You just can’t go wrong with train thrillers. On the whole this is an entertaining little movie, especially if you enjoy newspaper crime thrillers. Highly recommended.