11-Apr-2006
Movies: A Review of A Dispatch from Reuters (B&W 1940), by Easan Katir

An accurate biography of Julius Reuter, and the story of how he founded his eponymous news agency, beginning with a flock of carrier pigeons in 1850 delivering stock prices between Aachen and Brussels. Some nostalgic scenes of early European and London exchange floors, and how having prices a few hours early allowed traders to garner great wealth. He scooped all other newspapers when he relayed a major speech by Napoleon as it was being delivered, and later beat them again with news of Lincoln's assassination seven hours before the rival agency, allowing his financial backer to sell short before the news was confirmed.

Edward G. Robinson, usually cast as a tough-talking, cigar-chomping gangster, plays the highly ethical and entrepreneurial Reuter. Robinson was occasionally a guest at my grandparents' home in Beverly Hills, and they told me how he was the most humble and gracious of men, completely different from his gangster roles. In this film, the viewer gets this sense of his real personality. .