1992 / Director. Kenny Ortega.
Newsies is an original musical from Disney, based on the real life Newsboys strike of 1899 in New York City. Christian Bale leads the film as confident and domineering newsie (paper boy) who leads a strike against the press moguls of the city, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolf Hearst. Pulitzer ruthlessly severed the newsies wages in a greedy manoeuvre to stick one up Hearst and the rebellion that followed made history. Momentum spread and the strike blew up into a city-wide strike against child labor. It's a great little flick. It flopped at the box office but over the past 20 years it's earned itself a large cult following. Directed by Kenny Orgega (High School Musical, Michael Jackson's This Is It) it's a throwback to classic broadway musicals with big musical numbers and highly choreographed dance sequences. The songs are solid, the era is captured really well and Disney didn't shy away from risky images of children smoking and brawling. I admit that I felt a little weird being educated by a flashy musical but it's true. I didn't know a lot about the newsie strike and having read up on it, it seems that the film gets the important details right. It's a credit to them (although I would love to see this story told straight). All throughout the film I kept thinking how much I would enjoy the stage show because it seems really well adapted... but low and behold I also subsequently read that the film is an original. It wasn't until 19 years later that a it finally hit broadway. Christian Bale is excellent in a role that sees him step into a more mature and controlled type of performer. Robert Duvall is menacing as Pulitzer and the rest of the ensemble is great also. Tonight was the first time I've seen Newsies.... 20 years too late. Very fun.