Newsies 1990 ***

If you only see one period musical about union development starring Christian Bale this year, then the choice is limited to Disney’s 1992 film Newsies. That’s no bad thing, since despite its relatively unknown status, Kenny Ortega’s film has a lot to offer, not least in the form of songs by Alan Mecken, who also did great work on The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Bale plays Jack Kelly, a newsboy who rallies his youthful co-workers to strike against the press-barons, notably Robert Duvall. Originally conceived as a straight drama, Disney appear to have got cold feet about the musical content, and the songs are treated in a piecemeal fashion, often broken up by irrelevant dialogue. But the setting, cast and subject are all fresh, and the novelty value of bale’s song and dance keeps you watching; as with his later performances, it seems there’s few things that bale can’t do as an actor.


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