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directed by Mervyn LeRoy
USA 1931


Early in this brisk dramedy, a jaded newsman laments that some reporters furnish the manure while some grow the flowers. Editor Joe Randall’s newspaper is suddenly in the manure biz. To increase readership and revenues, he’s pressured against his principles to come up with a sensationalist tale or two. So Randall revisits a love-nest murder of years past. Circulation soars. But living people – real people – involved in the story are suddenly victimized. Randall could never imagine the tragedy to follow. As Randall, Edward G. Robinson finds a role to match his authoritative talents in this hot-off-the-presses Best Picture Academy Award nominee* directed for hard-hitting effect by Mervyn LeRoy. Boris Karloff, just weeks away from the release of Frankenstein, plays Randall’s shady lead reporter.


The Absence of Malice of 1931, with Edward G. Robinson as the editor of a sleazy tabloid looking into a 20-year-old murder case and causing a suicide. Mervyn LeRoy directed, doing a lot better with the newspaper chatter than with the long stretches of melodrama; nonetheless, the film was nominated for an Academy Award. With H.B. Warner, Aline MacMahon, and Boris Karloff, excellent in a character part before his typing in horror films.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr at the Chicago Reader located HERE


Theatrical Release: 26 September 1931 (USA)

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video (Warner Archive Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

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Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:28:48

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.83 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailer (1:51)
• Archive Advert (0:59)

DVD Release Date: June 22, 2010
Keep Case





Five Star Final is a Best Picture-nominated proto-noir that got a remastered DVD-R edition from Warner Archive Collection. Dealing with a darker side of journalism, it is a sort-of predecessor to Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole. It would be a nice way to compare and contrast Kirk Douglas' journalist in that film and Edward G. Robinson's editor in this pre-code adaptation of a hit play by Louis Weitzenkorn. The play was re-made as Two Against the World in 1936 with Humphrey Bogart in Robinson's role; it's unfortunate Warner didn't see fit to release both films as a double feature of original and re-make as they started doing recently.

This being a film from early sound era, the print is probably in not a great shape and would require a costly restoration. This new progressive transfer is fine, there is still visible damage, marks and specks all over the print, but blacks are decent and we wish this kind of transfer was a standard for all Warner Archive releases for films of that era. Some sequences has too much grain, most noticeable during a visit of Boris Karloff's character to the Townsends (the fourth capture). Mono soundtrack is good considering the film is from 1931. Unfortunately, as usual for Archive releases, there are not subtitles provided. The only extra is a theatrical trailer and looks like Warner changed Main Menus for these remastered editions. A recommended releases of this fine film. Other newly remastered titles being released as part of Warner Archive Collection are Two on a Guillotine and Verboten!

  - Gregory Meshman


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Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC


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