6 Must Watch Films Featuring Printing Presses

The perfect antidote to your quarantine blues! Spend your time inside with some great films about or featuring printing and presses.

Features a press from the Printing Museum collection

Park Row  1952

The quintessential film about printing, and the only one that focuses purely on printing, a love letter to printing and journalism. To get an idea of just how into printing this film is, it opens by scrolling through an image of every daily US newspaper’s nameplate, which is quickly followed by the producer’s name in type on a composing stick held by a statue of Gutenberg. The story revolves around two rival newspapers on New York City’s Park Row in the 1880’s. The movie goes into great detail explaining print shop terminology and imagery with a young Printers Devil serving as the audience stand-in. It even features a completely fabricated, but enjoyable, version of Ottmar Mergenthalers invention of the Linotype. You should watch this film for the dialogue alone which includes gems like “There are four subjects one should never argue about; Anthropology, bird calls, romance, and, of course, Newspapers”, “Mr. Spiro, escort this wench back to her slaughterhouse before I throw her out of here right on her front page” and, the perfect pick up line for a printer, “What’s a job printer like you doing with such a big press?”

Stream on Amazon Prime

Seven Pounds  2008

Seven Pounds Rosario Dawson Printing on Heidelberg Windmill
Museum expert Rich Tautenhahn trains Rosario Dawson on the Heidelberg Windmill

This film starring Will Smith is about a man determined to help 7 people, one of which is Rosario Dawson, who is operating a garage letterpress business, printing specialty announcements and cards. Following medical treatment, she can barely operate her vintage press, nearly smashing her hand in the press in the process. If only she could get the other press in the shop working, the automatic letterpress that she refers to as “The Beast” aka her Heidelberg Windmill. Will Smith manages to fix the Beast, wins her affection and love is born. Not only does this film feature our presses but the writer Grant Nieoporte was inspired by his wife Jill, a book artist who bought a press from the Museum years before. 

Streaming on Showtime

Rent on a number of different sites

Penny Serenade  1941

Cary Grant plays a newspaper man married to Irene Dunne about a loving couple and their attempts at starting a family through adoption. Not to mention a great lesson on how to fix a Linotype.

Free Youtube 

Streaming on Amazon Prime

 

The Name of the Rose  1986

The movie that answers the question “what if James Bond was a friar in a 1300’s abbey?” This feature starring Sean Connery focuses on the printer’s predecessor, the Scribe and the Illuminator. A fantastic portrait of life as a medieval scribe with a little bit of mystery, adventure, a young Christian Slater, and a truly evil F. Murray Abraham. 

Streaming on Sundance Now

 

Newsies  1992

Speaking of young actors named Christian, a young Christian Bale stars in this film about a ragtag crew of Newsies who fight back against the greedy Joseph Pullitzer in a classic tale of the little guys (in this case literally) winning the day. The real hero of the story though is the C & P Platen press the Newsies use to print up their broadsides. All the presses and equipment featured in Newsies are from The Printing Museum’s collection! If you like your printing presses with a side of high kicks and tap dancing this is the film for you.

Streaming on Disney+

Rent on a number of different sites

Mister 880  1950 

What kind of list of printing movies could not include a good counterfeiting scene? Based on a true story and starring Burt Lancaster, Mister 880 is about a counterfeiter who evades federal authorities by only printing one dollar bills. Fun fact, when 20th Century Fox bought the movie rights to this story, the real counterfeiter received more money than he had ever made as a counterfeiter.

Rent on Amazon

 

Keep checking the Museum Blog for more recommended viewing lists…

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