A musical based on the New York City newsboy strike of 1899. When young newspaper sellers are exploited beyond reason by their bosses they set out to enact change and are met by the ruthlessness of big business.
July, 1899: When Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise the distribution price one-tenth of a cent per paper, ten cents per hundred, the newsboys, poor enough already, are outraged. Inspired by the strike put on by the trolley workers, Jack "Cowboy" Kelly (Christian Bale) organizes a newsboys' strike. With David Jacobs (David Moscow) as the brains of the new union, and Jack as the voice, the weak and oppressed found the strength to band together and challenge the powerful.Written by
Kaitlin Dwyer Rankins
During the closing credits, the names of the cast are divided in three groups billed as such: The Newsies, Friends of the Newsies and The Opposing Forces. See more »
The featurettes on the DVD version of "Newsies", include at least two scenes that were altered in the final movie:
On the soundtrack for "Newsies" during the song "Carrying The Banner" there is a line that goes, "You need a smile as sweet as butter, the kind that ladies can't resist. It takes an orphan, with a stutter, who ain't afraid to use his fists." This footage is also present during the song on one of the featurettes, however in the movie, this part is cut, leading straight to the scene where the boys jump over the barrels.
During another featurette, one of the cast members mentions that Christian Bale had to learn an extra skill for his part and then there is footage of him with a lasso doing various tricks. This scene appears to be from the "Santa Fe" song, although it is not made clear.
'"Newsies" keeps itself from an educational documentary by holding the Pulitzer and Hearst conflict, Theodore Roosevelt and effectiveness of strikes in the periphery. Indeed, it forces historical accuracy out of the periphery and into the trashcan to provide a feel good ending for the film.
Newsboys did indeed strike in 1899 as a result of Pulitzer's decision to raise the price the newsies paid in order to cover the cost of foreign correspondence. However, the newsie's union did not achieve its goal. Joseph Pulitzer did not return the price of the papers to its former level. The newsies only won the right to redeem unsold papers for money.
But that's not much of a victory, is it? Not compared to the voices of thousands of children raised in protest, calling for rights while gathered in the square beneath the offices of newspaper tycoon Joseph Pulitzer.
Machiavelli would have been full of pride (and taking notes) as Robert Duvall's Pulitzer extorted a few extra cents from his 'distribution apparatus'.
James Rogers, author of the 'Dictionary of Clichés', would have instantly revised his book to include characters Racetrack (a character who just might have been lifted from a Damon Runyon novel: a snappy dresser who bets and smokes cigars), Frances Sullivan/Jack Kelly (charismatic leader), Crutchy (crippled kid looked after by his friends), David Jacobs (the brains behind the leader) and Brian Denton (idealistic journalist looking for a great angle), among others.
At any rate, it's a David and Goliath story. Had the Philistines, the Israelites' opposition at the biblical battle where a shepherd slew a giant, made a cameo appearance, they most likely would not have been able to keep up with the newsboys' dance moves. The choreography blends together well, but still holds the right tone for the characters, working kids living as they please.
All in all, it's a fairly enjoyable movie, if you forget history and refrain from analyzing characters and plot. Its idealistic ending is a crowd pleaser, and the song 'King of New York', will stick in your head
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