The Drunken Journalist: The Biography of a Film Stereotype

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Scarecrow Press, 2000 - 200 pages
"No other human problem," a critic once remarked, "seems to have afflicted movie newspapermen more often than drinking." Howard Good's latest book analyzes the stereotype of the hard-drinking journalist, with the goal of discovering why it exists and how it operates in films. Early chapters consider whether there is a historical basis for the stereotype of the hard-drinking journalist;while later chapters deal with films from across the decades, including the 1980s and 1990s. They identify the fate of the romantic couple as a major--if not the major--concern of silent films featuring drunken journalists; explore the many and often conflicting meanings associated with drinking in the 1930s, the so-called "golden age of newspaper films"; and discuss the influence of Alcoholics Anonymous on such newspaper films of the 1940s and 1950s as Welcome Stranger and Come Fill the Cup. The concluding chapter points out that the dominant culture has frequently marginalized subgroups--for example, Native Americans and Irish immigrants--by stereotyping them as drunks, and theorizes that the stereotype of the hard-drinking journalist signals ambivalence not only about drinking, but also about the effects of the press on American life. Written in the clear, incisive style for which Good is known, this book offers illuminating new interpretations of classic newspaper films from The Front Page to All the President's Men. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the implications of popular culture for how we think and live.

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About the author (2000)

Howard Good is Professor of Journalism, SUNY at New Paltz. He has written extensively on journalism, gender, and film in America.

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