This harrowing documentary tells the story of one of the longest and most terrible sieges in the history of human warfare. When Hitler launched the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941, the capture of the city of Leningrad was one of his primary strategic goals. Leningrad was not only an industrial powerhouse, home to many armaments factories, but also a main naval base for the Russian Baltic fleet, as well as the nation's former capital and the symbolic seat of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Supported by the Finns, intent on recovering territory they had lost in the Finnish-Soviet Winter war the previous year, Nazi forces rapidly advanced on the city. Instead of entering the city, however, Hitler ordered Leningrad to be bombed and shelled into oblivion and its citizens starved to death. The siege began on September 8, 1941, the day after an air raid destroyed nearly all the city's food supplies. With the daily ration for civilians reduced to two slices of bread, many citizens died from malnutrition. The siege would last 872 days before the blockade was finally lifted, after five unsuccessful attempts, in January 1944. By this time a third of Leningrad's three million population had perished and a quarter of the city's buildings had been destroyed.
Reporter Curt Devlin loves sob sister Ellen Garfield but believes women are "bum newspapermen". When she learns the identity of a murdered arsonist, he calls it luck. When she goes after the murderer he gets enough evidence to have Maitland Coulter arrested. She finds a bunch of "not guilty" ballots and publishes the wrong story; he eavesdrops on the jury and gets the correct verdict. After being fired she gets a confession from the real killer and gets Coulter released.
Hildy Johnson is the top reporter on a Chicago newspaper during the 1920s. Tired of the whole game he's determined to quit his job to get married. His scheming editor, Walter Burns, has other plans though. It's the day before guilty (but insane) murderer, Earl Williams, is due to go to the gallows and Burns tempts Johnson to stay and write the story.