A Dispatch from Reuters

Last updated
A Dispatch from Reuters
A Dispatch from Reuters 1940 poster.jpg
1940 theatrical poster
Directed by William Dieterle
Written by Valentine Williams (story)
Wolfgang Wilhelm (story)
Milton Krims
Produced by Hal B. Wallis (exec. producer)
Henry Blanke (assoc. producer)
Starring Edward G. Robinson
Edna Best
Cinematography James Wong Howe
Edited by Warren Low
Music by Max Steiner
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • October 19, 1940 (1940-10-19)
Running time
89–90 minutes
CountryUnited States

A Dispatch from Reuters is a 1940 biographical film about Paul Reuter, the man who built the famous news service that bears his name. [1] [2]



Paul Reuter starts a messenger service using homing pigeons to fill a gap in the telegraph network spanning Europe, but has difficulty convincing anyone to subscribe. When poison is sent to a hospital by mistake, Reuter's message saves the day (and many lives). However, he is persuaded by Ida Magnus, the pretty daughter of Dr. Magnus, to keep it quiet, as a scandal would undo all the good work the doctors are doing.

Finally though, with some hot news about Russia invading Hungary (which would depress the stock market), Reuter is able to convince bankers that he can provide them with financial information much more quickly than any other means. He is particularly pleased and surprised by how reliable his lifelong, lackadaisical friend Max Wagner has become at the Brussels office, until his associate Franz Geller informs him that Ida had, while there on a visit, taken over and run the place. Reuter sends a message by pigeon, asking her to marry him. She sends one back with her assent.

When the telegraph network finally fills the gap Reuter's business had been exploiting, he realizes that he can use the employees he has in place all over Europe to gather the news and sell it to the newspapers. Once again, he encounters resistance, particularly from John Delane, influential editor of The Times , but overcomes it by persuading Louis Napoleon III to allow him to disseminate the text of an extremely important speech at the same time as it is being presented.

Later, a rival company appears; Anglo Irish secretly builds a telegraph line in Ireland that gives it a two-hour lead in getting news from ships coming from America. Reuter borrows money from his client and good friend, Sir Randolph Persham, and builds his own line, one that extends further west and gets the news even quicker. Its first use is to announce the assassination of President Lincoln. As nobody knows about Reuter's new telegraph line, he is accused of making the tragedy up in order to manipulate the stock market; even Sir Randolph believes the rumors at first. The matter is brought up in the British Parliament, but Reuter is vindicated when slower services confirm his story.



  1. Variety film review; September 25, 1940, page 15.
  2. Harrison's Reports review; November 2, 1940, page 174.

Related Research Articles

Paul Reuter Anglo-German entrepreneur and news agency founder

Paul Julius Reuter, later titled as Freiherr von Reuter, was a German-born British entrepreneur who was a pioneer of telegraphy and news reporting. He was a reporter and media owner, and the founder of Reuters news agency, which became part of the Thomson Reuters conglomerate in 2008.

Adolphe Menjou American actor

Adolphe Jean Menjou was an American actor. His career spanned both silent films and talkies. He appeared in such films as Charlie Chaplin's A Woman of Paris, where he played the lead role; Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory with Kirk Douglas; Ernst Lubitsch's The Marriage Circle; The Sheik with Rudolph Valentino; Morocco with Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper; and A Star Is Born with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, and was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page in 1931.

Grace Stafford American actress

Grace Lantz, also known by her stage name Grace Stafford, was an American actress and the wife of animation producer Walter Lantz. Stafford is best known for providing the voice of Woody Woodpecker, a creation of Lantz's, from 1950 to 1992.

Bruce Bennett American actor (1906–2007)

Bruce Bennett, was an American film and television actor who prior to his screen career was a highly successful college athlete in football and in both intercollegiate and international track-and-field competitions. In 1928 he won the silver medal for the shot put at the Olympic Games held in Amsterdam. Bennett's acting career spanned more than 40 years. He worked predominantly in films until the mid-1950s, when he began to work increasingly in American television series.

David Bruce (actor) American actor (1914–1976)

David Bruce was an American film actor, known for his chilling performance as Ted Allison in The Mad Ghoul. He was a company member of Peninsula Players Theatre in Fish Creek, Wisconsin in 1939.

Pigeon post

Pigeon post is the use of homing pigeons to carry messages. Pigeons are effective as messengers due to their natural homing abilities. The pigeons are transported to a destination in cages, where they are attached with messages, then the pigeon naturally flies back to its home where the recipient could read the message. They have been used in many places around the world. Pigeons have also been used to great effect in military situations, and are in this case referred to as war pigeon.

Otto Kruger American actor

Otto Kruger was an American actor, originally a Broadway matinee idol, who established a niche as a charming villain in films, such as Hitchcock's Saboteur. He also appeared in CBS's Perry Mason and other TV series. He was the grandnephew of South African president Paul Kruger.

Montagu Love English actor

Harry Montagu Love was an English screen, stage and vaudeville actor.

Rudolph Anders German actor (1895-1987)

Rudolph Anders was a German character actor who came to the United States after the rise of Hitler, and appeared in numerous American films in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

Bruce Seton British actor (1909-1969)

Sir Bruce Lovat Seton, 11th Baronet was a British actor and soldier.

Paul Weigel American actor

Paul Weigel was a German-American actor. He appeared in 114 films between 1916 and 1945.

Walter Kingsford British actor

Walter Kingsford was a British stage, film and television actor.

Bernhard Wolff German media mogul

Bernhard Wolff was a German media mogul. He was editor of the Vossische Zeitung, founder of the National Zeitung (1848–1938), and founder of Wolffs Telegraphisches Bureau (1849–1934), one of the first press agencies in Europe and one of the three great European telegraph monopolies until the World War II-era, the other two being the English Reuters and the French Havas. The second son of a Jewish banker, Wolff lived and died in Berlin. His grave is preserved in the Jewish cemetery on Schönhauser Allee in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood.

<i>Confirm or Deny</i> 1941 film by Archie Mayo, Fritz Lang

Confirm or Deny is a 1941 film made by 20th Century Fox, directed by Archie Mayo and Fritz Lang (uncredited), and starring by Don Ameche and Joan Bennett. The screenplay was written by Jo Swerling, based on a story by Samuel Fuller and Henry Wales.

Wolfgang Zilzer was a German-American stage and film actor, often under the stage name Paul Andor.

<i>Wagner</i> (film) 1983 British television miniseries

Wagner is a 1983 television miniseries on the life of Richard Wagner with Richard Burton in the title role. It was directed by Tony Palmer and written by Charles Wood. The film was later released on DVD as a ten-part miniseries.

Allan Jeayes British actor

Allan John Jeayes was an English stage and film actor.

Frederica Dorothy Violet Carrington, Lady Rose, MBE was an expatriate British writer domiciled for over half her life in Corsica. She was one of the twentieth century's leading scholars on the island's culture and history, about which she wrote numerous books and articles.

Otto Waldis Austrian-American actor (1901–1974)

Otto Waldis was an Austrian-American character actor in films and television from the 1930s through the 1960s. He was also billed as Otto Blum.

August Julius Clemens Herbert Reuter, 2nd Baron de Reuter was a British business man in London who spent most of his adult life working for his father's news agency, Reuters, of which he was general manager for 37 years, from 1878 until his death.