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"Pulitzer may own the World, but he don't own us!"
Newsies is a 1992 film produced by Disney. It is a live-action musical that follows the story of a group of newsboys in New York City in 1899, who strike against the city's biggest newspapers and their publishers after the price of newspapers goes up. It was a box office bomb when it was first released and severely mocked by critics (Leonard Maltin went as far as calling it "Howard the Newsboy"), but a combination of releases on home video and DVD, airings on the Disney Channel, the Internet, and word of mouth has given it a monster-sized cult following. Go figure. A Broadway adaptation hit in 2012 and was promptly sold out and showered in Tony noms. It won two, for Best Choreography and Best Score, winning Alan Menken his first Tony.It should also be noted that the film was also directed by Kenny Ortega, the guy who would go on to be responsible for the High School Musical films.
This film provides examples of:
Acceptable Targets: When trying to figure out which headlines would help them sell more papers, one newsie suggests a crooked politician. He gets shouted down because "that ain't news no more!"
Adults Are Useless: Though only partially, since Denton does help the newsies by getting their story out.
Ambiguously Jewish: Both Pulitzer and Weasel, David's full name is "David Jacobs", his sister is named Sarah, and his parents are called Esther and Meyer, all Jewish names.
Dark Reprise: Jack sings a melancholy reprise of "Santa Fé" after he has been taken to the juvenile detention centre.
David Versus Goliath: The premise; the original legend is referenced explicitly twice in the film: in dialogue ("What's your name?" "David." "As in David and Goliath?"), and in the song "Seize the Day": "Proud and defiant/We'll slay the giant!"
Face-Heel Turn: When the strike looks like it's succeeding, Pulitzer hauls Jack in and offers him money in exchange for him giving up on the strike. Jack's not interested until Pulitzer threatens Jack's friend and co-leader, David, and David's family; then he caves, and is later seen wearing new clothes and selling Pulitzer's papers. It doesn't last. (This is one aspect of the story that comes more or less straight from the historical record.)
Racetrack: Remember that hot tip I told you about?
Racetrack: Nobody told the horse.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Crutchy, rather pleased with a bit of mischief, tells Jack he's done something to Snyder's sauerkraut. What color is sauerkraut, and what could a mischievous teenage boy do to it in order to get back at somebody?
Not to mention Joseph Pulitzer and Kid Blink, the latter of whom is downgraded from his historical role as leader of the strike in favor of the film's original character.
Actually, most of the boys are loosely or directly based on actual newsboys involved in the strike. Racetrack Higgins, Spot Conlon, Mush Meyers, Crutchy Morris, and several others are explicitly named in newspaper articles from the strike, and David is clearly based on a strike leader named Dave Simons. There was also a newsboy named Jack Sullivan who probably provided some inspiration for Jack Kelly.
"I Am" Song: The newsies collectively get one in the opening number, "Carrying the Banner", which explains their working life:
We goes where we wishes
We's as free as fishes
Sure beats washing dishes
What a fine life
Carrying the banner home-free all!''
I Choose to Stay: Jack has always dreamed of going to Santa Fe, but with a little off-screen persuasion by Governor Roosevelt, he decides to go back to his Newsie family.
If I Were a Rich Man: The song "King of New York" has shades of this, with the newsies imagining the extravagant things their fame will get them.
Slightly averted, because they aren't even imagining anything truly expensive. The most expensive thing any of them want is a movie ticket and a private box at Sheepshead Races. Although one does hope for a Saturday night with the Mayor's daughter.
Out-of-Character Moment: One of the Delanceys initially acts offended by his brother threatening to beat up David, indicating that he has Hidden Depths (or at least standards). Within minutes though, he helps harass David and his family along with his brother and not seeming the least bit conflicted or hesitant about it.
It's actually far more likely that Morris just didn't want Oscar telling Jack about their plans, as it would up the odds of Jack getting in their way.
Parental Abandonment: All of the newsies except David and his little brother, Les, are either orphans or otherwise effectively parentless.
Plot-Induced Stupidity: Jack specifically tells Denton not to put his picture in the paper, but later when he whips his camera out and takes a picture of all the newsies, Jack doesn't duck down or cover his face or even move so as to make it blur. This leads to trouble when Warden Snyder sees the picture and figures out that "Francis Sullivan" is now using the name "Jack Kelly". Of course, the subsequent plot is dependent on this happening, but why didn't they just have Jack be taken by surprise? Instead, he sees the camera and even points it out to the others.
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: "Poor orphans and runaways, the newsies were a ragged army, without a leader, until one day all of that changed..."
Refuge in Audacity: When they realize they need to print their own paper if they want to rally all of the child laborers in the city, the heroes make use of one of Pullitzer's own printing presses, stored in his basement.
Running Gag: For poetic reasons, the characters continually say that they will talk to the World, run by Pulitzer. It sounds like they're talking about the actual world, but every now and then they'll throw in "and the Journal" as a side note.
The newspaper heading reads: "Children's Crusade: Newsies stop World." (The sub-heading says "and the Journal.")
Vague Age: How old is Katherine? Old enough to be a reporter, young enough to be an honorary member of a children's crusade (thereby playing Adults Are Useless straighter) and start a relationship with 17-year-old Jack.