16th September 1925
‘Last Edition’ Wins Praise at Preview
Newspaper Picture Taken in Chronicle Plant Shown at St. Francis
By George C. Warren
Emory Johnson and his mother, Mrs. Emilie Johnson, have addded another fine picture to their list of industrial photoplays which began with “In the Name of the Law,” showing that “the policeman’s lot is not a happy one,” and now comes to the world of the newspaper in “The Last Edition,” which was previewed last night at the St. Francis Theater before an invited audience.
The picture was made in the new Chronicle building and shows the plant from local room and the editor in chief’s private office, through composing, stereotyping and press rooms, to the engine room in the sub basement.
Newspaper Making Shown
Every Part of the process of getting out a newspaper is gone through in the course of the picture, and while these things have an interest in themselves they are made doubly fascinating because they tend to increase the suspense and tensity of the plot and so contribute dramatically to the story.
The regular employees of The Chronicle are shown at work in many of the scenes and last night’s audience, which had many of the force among its number, roundly applauded familiar faces and laughed at their comrades’ debut as picture actors. But the men went about their work without self-consciousness and showed themselves to be pretty well poised.
The combination of the Johnsons, mother and son, has been a good working partnership, for Mrs. Johnson conceives the stories and her boy directs the pictures and sometimes acts in them.
Show Many Pictures
Together they have shown the workings of the Police and Fire Departments of a city in “In the Name of the Law” and “The Third Alarm:” the life of railroad men in “Westbound Limited:” the drudgery of the postoffice in “The Mail Man,” the naval force of the land in “The Spirit of the U. S. A.,” and the national sport, baseball, in “Life’s Greatest Game.”
The writer has seen all of these but the last, and excellent as several of them have been, he would select “The Last Edition” as the best of the series. Its story violates probability less than some of the others and it is one that grips the sympathies and keeps hold of them.
There can be no caviling, either, at the representation of newspaper life. Johnson was well advised in the action and incidents of his story. Perhaps the facts are colored a little highly, but that is for dramatic effect, and basically they are sound.
Suspense Well Sustained
The suspense is well sustained and cumulative, and the climax is a terrific one, followed by the excitement of a fire, which also is splendidly done.
For its great episode the stopping of the press by the assistant pressman was chosen.
A big story has been telephoned in from police headquaters eighteen minutes before the deadline – the time for going to press with the final 6 a.m. edition. Reporters and rewrite men swarm ver the scene; the compositors rush the copy through, stereotypers make the plate, it is set in place and the great press begins to pour out the papers.
The assistant pressman looks at a copy and sees that the story spread over the front page tells of the imprisonment of his son as a grafter. He knows the boy would never by guility of such a thing, and he tries to stop the story from going out.
Appeals to Foreman
He appeals to the foreman, to the owner of the paper and they refuse to listen to his plea: then he takes a desperate chance and thros a monkey wrench into the rollers and brings the press to dead stillness.
It is very exciting and stirs the blood. Just as the press stops the boilers blow up , the building takes fire and presently engines are whizzing down the streets from every direction, but the building is doomed.
And while this is happening at the newspaper plant, the police are rounding up the real criminals in the graft scandal, the accused boy is freed and everybody but the evil doers is happy at the fade out.
In the cast are Ralph lewis as the father; Lou Payne, who in private life is the husband of Mrs. Leslie Carter, is the newspaper proprietor, and Frances Teague, daughter of an official of the Southern Pacific Railroad, is a pretty and effective heroine, sister of the boy who gets in trouble and fiancee of the bright young reporter who runs down the real criminals.
Taylor Holmes of “No, No, Nanette” made a witty speech last night, introducing Johnson and his mother, and both Mrs. Johnson and her son spoke briefly. Mrs. Johson said the message of the picture was contained in the words of the father to the newspaper owner: “Truth, Love and Duty.”
Emory Johnson, film producer, and his mother Mrs. Emilie Johnson, scenarist, whose combined effort in pictures, “The Last Edition,” was shown to newspaper men at the St. Francis Theater last night. The film was made in The Chronicle’s new plant.