In this blog, we will be discussing the difference between comedies and tragedies in literature and drama, and then we will discuss one of my favorite movies, Newsies.
Comedies, the main point of a comedy is to be lighthearted and make the audience laugh while the protagonist is going about solving their main conflict, and a comedy will end up with the protagonist winning in the end. In tragedies, a serious subject is being addressed alongside with the idea of the human condition. Tragedies usually deal with horrible events, and the most known tragedies are written by Shakespeare, where they usually involve death.
Now moving onto Newsies, and to clarify I’m talking about the 1992, Disney movie directed by Kenny Ortega. For those of you who don’t know, Kenny Ortega also directed the well-known High School Musical and Hocus Pocus, as well as Cheetah Girls 2, Dirty Dancing (2014), etc., and to this day he still works with Disney as they have tasked him with directing the Descendants movies. Now, if you haven’t heard of the last one, I don’t blame you. They are pretty recent and I only just learned about them from one of my younger cousins, but the point is, if you are a fan of Disney’s live action musicals or musicals in general, you have probably heard the name Kenny Ortega before or at least seen something he has worked on.
Newsies is a fictional movie based on real stories and events of the Newsboys strike of 1899. This strike was focused on the companies of the New York World owned by Joseph Pulitzer, and the New York Morning Journal owned by William Randolph Hearst, but the strike helped change compensation for many Newsboys, not just the ones working for Mr. Pulitzer and Mr. Hearst. The movie follows the story of the characters Jack “Cowboy” Kelly played by Christian Bale, David “Davey” Jacobs played by David Moscow, and David’s younger brother Les Jacobs played by Luke Edwards.
The movie begins with David and Les starting their first day as Newsboys, and Jack decides to mentor the two brothers. This led to a chase scene in which the viewer learns that Jack has escaped from a correctional facility for children and teens. The next day Pulitzer (Robert Duvall), decides to raise the price per paper by a tenth of a cent when the Newsboys buy their papers. This angers the Newsboys, and with David’s knowledge and Jack’s charisma, the Newsboys go on strike. Though charisma wouldn’t be enough, as both Jack and David realize very quickly that their group of strikers was too small to gain Pulitzer’s attention as a problem. After a bit of convincing, they get the support of Spot Colon (Gabriel Damon). Now Spot Colon was seen as the head Newsboy of Brooklyn, and all of the Newsboys of New York seem to look up to him, and when Jack and David got his support, they got the support of most of the Newsboys of New York.
This leads to a rally in which David begs the Newsboys for a peaceful strike instead of the violent one that had occurred, but the rally is interrupted by Snyder (Kevin Tighe), who with a group of police officers arrest Jack and take him back to the Refuge. From the Refuge, Jack is taken to Pulitzer to come back and work for him. Pulitzer believes that without Jack the strike will end, but this ends up back firing as David continues to lead the strike which ends up putting his brother and older sister in danger. This causes Jack to turn against Pulitzer and rejoin the Newsies. The Newsies then uses one of Pulitzer’s old presses to print their own paper with an unpublished article by Bryan Denton (Bill Pullman) about the work conditions and strike of the Newsies to gather all the working children of New York City. This grabs the attention of not only Pulitzer, but Theodore Roosevelt (David James Alexander) who helps the Newsies regain their original buying price and get other rights.
My personal favorite character was Crutchy played by Marty Belafsky. Crutchy was a secondary character in the movie who was nicknamed for his need for a crutch. One of the things that makes Crutchy such a loveable character is no matter what happens to him, whether it’s problems with his right leg, being beaten, or going to the Refuge he is the most optimistic character in the movie. Plus, you have to give a lot of credit to Balafsky, as he had to learn all of the choreography with a crutch.
One of the nice things about this movie is the characters are believable. When times get tough, they think of quitting the strike, when the cops come they get scared and run, and sometimes they get so caught up in the heat of the moment they don’t think things through. So, some of the acting may have seemed a little off, but you have to remember most of the cast was in middle school or high school. The fact that they had to continue schooling, and work a full day of acting, memorizing lines, and choreography is amazing and a great quality film was made in the process. Just looking at some of the opening scenes the amount of planning and practice must have been extreme (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBgzLkauIrs ).
In general, the musical genre is one of my favorites as music can give more meaning to a simple sentence. As much as I would like to see something on Broadway someday, to bring down the cost would take away from the awe of actually going.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. William Randolph Hearst. Ed. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2019. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/William-Randolph-Hearst>.
IMDb. Newsies (1992) Full Cast & Crew. n.d. <https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104990/fullcredits>.
MaddCowProductions. Newsies: Carrying The Banner. 31 March 2009. Video. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBgzLkauIrs>.
Newsies. By Bob Tzudiker and Noni White. Dir. Kenny Ortega. Perf. Christian Bale, Robert Duvall and Bill Pulman. Prod. Michael Finnell. 2012. Blu-ray.
Stern, Liz. Blast From the Past: Newsboy Strike of 1899. 27 July 2012. <http://historydetectives.nyhistory.org/2012/07/blast-from-the-past-newsboy-strike-of-1899/>.