His Girl Friday
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A classic screwball comedy in which Russell plays reporter Hildy Johnson, who, on the eve of her remarriage, is talked into one more assignment by her editor and ex-husband, Grant. While interviewinga condemned man, Hildy realizes that his hanging is planned as a vote-getting measure. Spontaneously, she helps the man escape.
The Front Page, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's classic 1928 newspaper play, has had three official film versions and contributed structural DNA to half the movies ever made about professional camaraderie and fierce love-hate friendships. Lewis Milestone's 1931 movie is well respected (Billy Wilder's 1974 version isn't), but this is one case where the remake towers brilliantined head and blocked shoulders above the original.
Howard Hawks had the inspired notion of making Hildy Johnson--the ace newsman whom demonic editor Walter Burns is trying to keep from quitting and getting married--a she instead of a he. What's more, she's not only Walter's star reporter but also his ex-wife. When Hildy (Rosalind Russell) comes to tell Walter (Cary Grant) she's leaving the newspaper business, he bamboozles her into carrying out one last assignment--a death-row interview with a little nebbish (John Qualen) convicted of killing a policeman. It sounds like a snap, but before you can say screwball comedy, the press room of the Criminal Courts Building has become ground zero for all the lunacy a jailbreak, a shooting, an impromptu suicide, a corrupt city administration, and the most Machiavellian "hero" in the American cinema can supply.
His Girl Friday is one of the, oh, five greatest dialogue comedies ever made; Hawks had his cast play it at breakneck speed, and audiences hyperventilate trying to finish with one laugh so they can do justice to the four that have accumulated in the meantime. Russell, not Hawks's first choice to play Hildy, is triumphant in the part, holding her own as "one of the guys" and creating an enduring feminist icon. Grant is a force of nature, giving a performance of such concentrated frenzy and diamond brilliance that you owe it to yourself to devote at least one viewing of the movie to watching him alone. But then you have to go back (lucky you) and watch it again for the sake of the press-room gang--Roscoe Karns, Porter Hall, Cliff Edwards, Regis Toomey, Frank Jenks, and others--the kind of ensemble work that gets character actors onto Parnassus. --Richard T. JamesonSee all Editorial Reviews
- Four Featurettes: "Cary Grant: Making Headlines," "The Inside Scoop: Rosalind Russell," "Reporter's Notebook: Howard Hawks" and "The Funny Pages"
- Vintage Advertising
- Talent Files (Howard Hawks, Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy)
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It IS a pity that Criterion has apparently given up on recordings new commentary tracks because "His Girl Friday" is so chock full of great unsung supporting players and clever dialog, it would've been a real pleasure to listen to one of the many excellent film historians who would've spotlighted all of the performances and quirks in this classic screwball comedy.
As for my Overall review, it’s an enjoyable movie and was of fair quality to watch as an old B&W movie that was streaming on a tablet. I own this movie on VHS and I have downloaded it on the way home from work so I have yet to put it up on a larger viewing screen. Picture quality is an issue when watch old B&W on our modern high def. equipment but I really don’t mind it’s the story and content that I love so much about this movie.
Great documentary included about restoration of The Front Page...a film I like, especially for its grimy atmosphere, but it just doesn't compete with Grant & Russell.
Always shocking to see there are people that dislike His Girl Friday...like learning there are people who dislike chocolate.