HIS GIRL FRIDAY

(1940)
With Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart, Helen Mack
Directed by Howard Hawks
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

His Girl Friday     Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's THE FRONT PAGE, a wickedly insightful and salty-tongued satire of the Fourth Estate, was one of the great Broadway triumphs of the late 1920s.  It received faithful film adaptations in 1931 with Pat O'Brien and Adolphe Menjou, and again in 1974 with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.  But the best version was made when director Howard Hawks had the inspired notion to turn leading character Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) into a street-smart female reporter, and pit her in a battle of wits against her boss and ex-husband, Walter Burns (Cary Grant).  Much of the dialogue in HIS GIRL FRIDAY is remarkably faithful to the Hecht-MacArthur source, but the quips and zingers take on an extra air of sexual tension when tossed back and forth between Russell and Grant.  The film works as both mordant commentary on yellow journalism as well as a high-spirited battle of the sexes.  If you're searching for this film on DVD, get the "official" release from Columbia, rather than any of the numerous public-domain, bargain-bin copies.  The film's legendary use of sound -- loaded with overlapping dialogue, clattering newsroom noise, and nary a moment of silence -- requires multiple viewings to appreciate, which is only possible with a decent print of the film.  - JL

Screwball Comedy     Cary Grant     The Stuff You Gotta Watch


Made Before As
The Front Page (1931)

Remakes
The Front Page (1974)
Switching Channels (1988)
Stuff You Gotta Watch
http://thestuffyougottawatch.com
Copyright © 2008 John V. Brennan, John Larrabee