“Too bad the guy used an axe on her head; spoiled some pretty pictures for me.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, John Derek is too much of a pretty boy for his role and is never entirely convincing as the eager-beaver rookie journalist who places Crawford on such a pedestal (though his opening scene with Harry Morgan as his sidekick photographer is a zinger). Meanwhile, Derek’s rocky interactions with Donna Reed (trying hard in a weakly written role as his moralistic female colleague) seem to be included in the screenplay merely to provide a requisite love interest subplot. In addition, while its central premise is inherently exciting, the script is predicated on a series of implausible coincidences, and many scenes simply don’t ring true (c.f. a disturbingly paternalistic sequence near the end of the film involving a bar full of stereotypical “winos”). However, the movie possesses enough noir-ish atmosphere (courtesy of Burnett Guffey‘s stark cinematography), enjoyably hardboiled dialogue, and genuine suspense that film fanatics will surely be curious to check it out at least once.
Note: Fuller was apparently so unimpressed by Scandal Sheet that he vowed to helm all his own flicks in the future — and did.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: