There's something about the news business that gets a film director's juices flowing. The pressure of deadlines, the colorful characters, the big stories -- they're just made for cinematic treatment. In the next month alone, two big features about the biz will hit theatres, both based on fact: "Truth," which opens Oct. 16, in which Robert Redford portrays CBS anchorman Dan Rather dealing with a controversial broadcast, and "Spotlight," opening Nov. 6, telling how The Boston Globe broke the story of sex abuse in the Catholic Church.
But these two are just the latest entries in a long line of distinguished flicks about the news world.
Citizen Kane (1941) William Randolph Hearst, er, Charles Foster Kane, rises in the print world, becomes a real power, discovers life at the top isn't all that great. Widely regarded as the greatest American film.
Call Northside 777 (1948) Crusading journalist James Stewart proves convicted killer Richard Conte is innocent in this documentary-style film.
Ace in the Hole (1951) Kirk Douglas is a sleazy reporter exploiting a mining tragedy for his own gain. Major-league cynicism from director Billy Wilder.
Sweet Smell of Success (1957) More sleaziness, as vicious gossip columnist Burt Lancaster destroys everything in his wake, including toadying press agent Tony Curtis.
All the President's Men (1976) Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as legendary Washington Post duo Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, investigating the Watergate break-in and helping take down President Richard Nixon.
Network (1976) TV programmer Faye Dunaway decides to exploit obviously bonkers news anchor Peter Finch by having him star in a bizarre news/reality program. Way ahead of its time in predicting current boob tube content.
The China Syndrome (1979) TV reporter Jane Fonda discovers there is something mighty fishy going down at the local nuclear power plant.
The Insider (1999) Brilliant film about a "60 Minutes" segment on a tobacco industry whistleblower. Russell Crowe is blowing the whistle, Al Pacino the producer who helps him do it.
Zodiac (2007) A serial killer sends taunting letters to a San Francisco paper. Political cartoonist Jake Gyllenhaal and reporter Robert Downey Jr. try to track down the madman. Chilling.