Starring: Mae Clarke, Pat O’Brien, Morgan Wallace, Bradley Page, Mary Doran, Phil Tead, Wallis Clark, Bertha Mann, James Donlan
Directed by: Howard Higgin
Released by: Columbia Pictures
Runtime: 66 minutes
Release date: February 12, 1932


The Final Edition is a Columbia Picture, meaning it’s now owned by Sony. God bless them and their continued quest of making various videogames named Spider-Man, but they have yet to release this digitally or on DVD. In fact, the first result on Amazon when you search for this the steelbook for Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, which is weirdly probably more racist than this movie from 1932. Anyway, The Final Edition can be found streaming on bootleg sites.

Proof That It’s Pre-Code

  • My eyebrows bolted up when the police commissioner mentioned ‘a deck of heroin’ being among what the town’s gangsters were peddling. Later, after his murder, a pair of reports think the blame can be placed on “Probably some coked up small timer.” Not often you get such explicit drug references in a picture of this time.
  • “Call me every 20 minutes so I know you’re sober.”
    “Haha! At last, I’m being treated like a newspaperman.”
  • “If this bathing suit shrinks any, I’ll be ruined!”
    “Here’s hoping!”
  • Lots of suggestiveness in this one. Besides Mae Clarke stripping down for a shower, we also have her cornered in her hotel room with the film’s villain who sneaks in and very much wants her to drop her bathrobe. Only quick thinking on her part stops things from getting dangerous.
  • “I would like to get a few clothes on.”
    “Why bother?”
  • “Aw, go to–”

The Final Edition: Extra Edition

“When I get married, it will be to a man. Not a newspaper.”

One thing I really enjoy when I watch a film from the early 30s is when they let a woman loose on a bunch of unsuspecting saps. Female, Ann Carver’s Profession, that one with Kay Francis and the hat— all very fun pictures about women who get to run amok, even if they always seem to have a couple of minutes tacked on the end where these strong, independent women smile broadly and agree to settle down with some dope.

Worst case scenario: George Brent. The Final Edition is like that, though Pat O’Brien may be a little worse than Brent; that jury is out.

Mae Clarke, the hard luck girl of pre-Code movies (to say nothing of her real life travails), gets to sink her teeth into this one. At the Daily Bulletin newspaper, City Editor Sam Bradshaw (O’Brien) is nursing a broken heart after star reporter Anne Woodman (Mae Clarke) rejects his advances. After the city’s Police Commissioner is murdered by a crime syndicate, Anne must use a combination of her feminine wiles and reporter’s instinct to unravel a conspiracy and solve the crime.

Despite getting very little info on her background, Clarke’s Anne is extremely competent in her place, smoothly committing several fraudulent acts including eavesdropping on the police commissioner’s widow and selective use of a then-skimpy bathing suit to get the information she needed. She is clever and thoughtful and knows well her value throughout the movie.

But there is probably a point worth emphasizing: this is a drama, but also very, very silly. Windows keep breaking. At one point someone tries to ask O’Brien a question in the newsroom and he just pushes the guy over a chair. When a pair of gangsters have her cornered and are threatening to kill her, Anne tsk tsks and tells them their ‘who’ should be a ‘whom’.

There are some fun lines, too, often delivered by a very tired James Donlan who has been stuck at the newspaper office so long that he’s almost forgotten where his home is. He bemoans, “I like to see my children every once in a while.” O’Brien snaps back, “Yeah? How do they feel about it?”

Typical for a Columbia Picture of the time, the shots are static and fairly lifeless– thank God the actors and script have enough pep in their step to keep things afloat. There is also a scene shot on location at the beach, which is refreshing from all of the other sets which look like rooms we’ve seen a hundred times before.

I’m trying not to spoil too much, but The Final Edition fits nicely into its era anchored by a snappy performance by Mae Clarke. Do the last two minutes suck the life out of the picture? Yes. And now that you know it, feel free to flick it off at the 64 minute mark and imagine Clarke still out there, taking down Scarface and rubbing it in Pat O’Brien’s face. Sounds like a good time to me.

More Images

Trivia, Miscellany & Links

  • One fun thing about this is that both O’Brien and Clarke appeared in The Front Page (1931) and now The Final Edition pairs them romantically in the same setting. This offers a weird kind of evolution towards His Girl Friday (1938) a few years later.
  • Variety praised the film for avoiding most of the violence that many gangster films had and notes that Mae Clarke, “gets the best of the assignment.”
  • Harrison’s Reports breathlessly states that The Final Edition “has so much suspense that at times, because of nervousness, one sits at the edge of the seat.”

What is Pre-Code?

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Danny is a writer who lives with his lovely wife, adorable children, and geriatric yet yappy dog. He blogs at, a website dedicated to Hollywood films from 1930 to 1934, and can be found on Twitter @PreCodeDotCom.

1 Comment

Claudia Mastrogiacomo · June 19, 2024 at 12:36 pm

I LOVE this movie. Mae Clarke had quite a cool Career, i mean She def got great scripts, now i know what Crawford jeans when She says that stars had to carry on the stickers cause they were the only One that could keep em afloat while all the other had the cool titles

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