Above is an extraordinary find. It’s a short film made in 1932 starring the man who invented the gossip column all by himself, Walter Winchell. Titled ‘I Know Everybody and Everybody’s Racket’, it features Winchell playing himself as well as offering glimpses of period celebrities such as Ruth Etting, Paul Whiteman and the Rhythm Boys (post Bing Crosby). The story, such as it is, was penned by Winchell’s fellow Broadway columnist pal Mark Hellinger (later to become a Hollywood producer of such noir and semi-noirs as ‘The Killers’ and ‘The Naked City’) and has something to do with a naive young girl on the town and a couple of very unthreatening gangsters who Winchell somehow gets her involved with. There’s a nice twist ending, some good songs and Winchell himself isn’t bad at all, which says very little as he’s playing himself. His major radio fame was just beginning at this time and the more strident, fully-developed in-your-face Winchell persona that became his trademark was as yet a bit untapped–he’s rather boyishly subdued here and it’s a little hard to imagine the vicious red-baiting, scandal-taunting maniac he was to become in the course of the next decade and a half. I don’t know where this film has been all these years–I’ve never heard of it–but the print is of outstanding quality. Perhaps it’s been hermetically sealed in a dust-free air temperature controlled vault awaiting YouTube’s beckoning? A final note: I suggest pausing at the films opening frames (post credits) in order to read the sample Winchell column that fills the screen. It’s a hoot.