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The Next Reel • Season 11 • Series: Journalists / John Heard • Between the Lines (1977)

Between the Lines

“We are still about telling the truth. We are still about something big here, and not many people can say that, man.”

After her success with Hester Street, it seemed fitting that director Joan Micklin Silver would make an ensemble film about a group of journalists at an alternative paper. She’d worked at The Village Voice, so clearly knew that world. Her writers did as well. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we wrap up our ‘Journalist’ series and kick off our ‘John Heard’ series with Micklin Silver’s 1977 film Between the Lines.

There’s a lot going on between the lines in Between the Lines.

One of the things we love so much about the film is the ensemble nature of the story. While we feel John Heard’s character Harry is the protagonist, we’re following half a dozen people fairly closely with another half dozen prominent supporting players. While it’s not Altman, there’s a definite feel here that Micklin Silver is opening up a portal to this world and we’re here experiencing it with her.

But it is John Heard’s story. He was here with the start of the paper and we follow the story through his inevitable departure after the paper’s essentially eaten up by a corporation coming in and taking over all the ‘little guys.’ That being said, how fair is it to call him the protagonist? Couldn’t more than one be the protagonist?

Micklin Silver does a wonderful job of weaving us through the lives of these people, both within the world of the paper and without. We see romances form and fall apart. We see raises get denied. We see dancing. We see interviews. It’s a painting of this world, and we’re right here for it.

It’s a marvelous film and absolutely works for us. Definitely check it out then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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