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directed by William Dieterle
USA 19

Edward G. Robinson builds the world’s first international news agency in this engrossing true story costarring Edna Best and Eddie Albert. Struggling to establish a system that delivers messages with reliability and speed, Julius Reuter (Robinson) becomes a success when he launches a European telegraph service that transmits news by wire. Competing with a British concern that’s out to steal his clients, Reuter lays a line to a remote coastal town that gives him the lead on American news brought to England by boat. The first to report Lincoln’s assassination, Reuter faces ruin when his exclusive causes London’s stock market to crash and no one else can confirm the story. Lavishly produced and featuring an extraordinary cast of supporting players, A Dispatch from Reuters was directed by William Dieterle, who specialized in biographical dramas and whose The Life of Emile Zola won the 1937 Academy Award for Best Picture.


In 19th century England, journalist Paul Julius Reuter (Edward G. Robinson) and his partner, Max Wagner (Eddie Albert), utilize messenger pigeons to connect telegraph stations across Europe. As time passes and technology outdates his system, Reuter invents a wire system that transmits news stories directly to newspapers. But when a rival business creates a faster telegraph system, Reuter must transmit high-profile news to stay on top of the industry, in this biopic based on true events.


The movie covers all these events in typically breezy Warner Bros. fashion, with action spanning 32 years (1833-1865) and jumping among Aachen, Brussels, Paris, London, New York and Washington, D.C. The drama comes not just from Reuter's achievements but from the ridicule and public persecution he received from those who doubted his ideas could work.

Starring as Reuter is Edward G. Robinson, who had recently done another, more famous Warner biopic, Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940). That film, Robinson wrote in his memoir, was his favorite of his own work, but A Dispatch from Reuters ran a close second. Playing in Warner biographies was a notable advancement in Robinson's career. These were the prestige roles, after all, which in the 1930s had been the specialties of George Arliss and Paul Muni. A few more names also returned from Ehrlich, including the fine actors Albert Bassermann, Otto Kruger and Montagu Love, cinematographer James Wong Howe, and director William Dieterle.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE


Theatrical Premiere: October 19th, 1940


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

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Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:29:36

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.21 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 1.0 (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Trailer (2:29)

DVD Release Date: July 12th, 2016
Keep Case

Chapters 10





A Dispatch From Reuter's is an above-average bio-pic. Julius Reuter, played with subtle intent by Edward G. Robinson, was the leading pioneer of the first news service in western Europe utilizing carrier pigeons and telegraph lines. Fascinating stuff!

It's standard single-layered Warner MoD (Made-on-Demand) disc and is progressive in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and looks good aside from the inherent softness that, actually, connotes a film-like appearance. It's quite pleasing and consistent with adept contrast and some texture. It's clean with no digitization or intrusive compression artifact issues. 

The lossy sound is decent supporting the score by the iconic Max Steiner (Mildred Pierce, Key Largo, Casablanca, The Caine Mutiny, Bird of Paradise, Beyond the Forest, Pursued etc. etc.) score. There are no subtitles offered here and the only supplements is a trailer. I suspect some discussion would actually garner appreciation of A Dispatch From Reuter's - a superior production of its era.

I wasn't overly keen to see this for one reason or another but fans of both biopics and Edward G. Robinson will see the value. I was impressed - it was entertaining, educational and a well-told story. Definitely worth a spin or two to vintage era aficionados.  

  - Gary Tooze



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Region 0 - NTSC


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