One dead body after another delays the honeymoon of poor Wally and Alice in 1941's Roar of the Press. Laughably mischaracterised as a film noir in its Amazon synopsis, this is a crime/comedy film that plays a bit like a callous, B-movie version of His Girl Friday.
It all plays like a lightweight screwball comedy until the newlyweds show up at Wally's apartment building. Then, abruptly, a man is shown falling to his death from the top floor.
No dramatic music or shocked reactions follow as Wally (Wallace Ford), a newspaper man, dashes into action. He takes a note from the dead man's pocket and runs to the nearest phone, which happens to be behind the front desk in the lobby. He calls his newspaper instead of the police. Not the last time in the film he'll make this questionable choice.
The fast paced amorality of the beginning of the film arrests the viewer's attention but most of the movie turns out to be a silly plot about Wally continually breaking promises to Alice. Despite this, the woman playing Alie, Jean Parker, gives the best performance in the film.
The final act becomes kind of fascinating as wartime considerations led the filmmakers to introduce a patriotic gangster named Sparrow McGraun (Paul Fix) and his henchman, Fingers (Eddie Foster). They're eager to foil the plans of gangsters from an unspecified foreign country. To this end, the American gangsters work without the slightest hint of friction with the newspapers and the cops. Sparrow even figures into the romance plot and commiserates with Alice when Wally doesn't show up for dinner again.
Wally doesn't talk as fast as Cary Grant in His Girl Friday and he's generally too weak to support the film in any other way. Still, the rapid murders and the peculiarly friendly gangsters, particularly for a post-Hays Code film, give it a few points of interest.
Roar of the Press is available on Amazon Prime.