Park Row

Director: Samuel Fuller
Screenwriters: Samuel Fuller

Institute History

  • 1988 Sundance Film Festival


This terrific newspaper picture is set at the turn of the century and deals with Mergenthaler’s invention of the linotype machine that revolutionized journalism, the beginnings of the circulation wars, the setting-up of the first news-stands, the beginning off the wholesale distribution of newspapers, and the publication of several issues a day. Against this backdrop is told the story of the erection of the Statue of Liberty, with Fuller’s hero (Gene Evans) representing an amalgam of Joseph Pulitzer and all the other great newspaper editors of the period.

Q: Did your background in journalism help you in films?
A: I think so. Everybody remembers something from their background. It’s different if you live in a seminary. If you’re a 48-year-old virgin and this is a love scene, you’re in a hell of a spot. My background in journalism helps me when I make pictures.
Q: Is that why “Park Row” is so good?
A: I remember the streets of New York during that time, and I wanted to recreate that in my picture. I built (the set) up to the fourth story and this is with my own loot—because I paid for that picture. The studio would have paid more for it, if I had done it their way: with Peck, Hayworth, Mitzi Gaynor and Dan Dailey—as a musical. But for me it was an experimental film, and I had to do it my way . . . It was a very special movie for me, but id lost a lot of loot. The biggest thrill was when the picture was run at the Waldorf in New York for the Newspaper Publishers’ Association—representing over 1700 newspapers. All the editors and publishers were there and they loved it. This nice little man came up to me, and he was Herman C. Mergenthaler, the son of the Mergenthaler represented in the picture. And he cried. It was so moving that I forgot about all the loot I lost. Of course, when he stopped crying, I started thinking about it again.

— Samuel Fuller, Edinburgh, 1969

Screening Details

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