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His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday

90% Liked It
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His Girl Friday

Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart, Helen Mack

The second screen version of the Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur play The Front Page, His Girl Friday changed hard-driving newspaper reporter Hildy Johnson from a man to a woman, transforming the story in... read more read a scintillating battle of the sexes. Rosalind Russell plays Hildy, about to foresake journalism for marriage to cloddish Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy). Cary Grant plays Walter Burns, Hildy's editor and ex-husband, who feigns happiness about her impending marriage as a ploy to win her back. The ace up Walter's sleeve is a late-breaking news story concerning the impending execution of anarchist Earl Williams (John Qualen), a blatant example of political chicanery that Hildy can't pass up. The story gets hotter when Williams escapes and is hidden from the cops by Hildy and Walter--right in the prison pressroom. His Girl Friday may well be the fastest comedy of the 1930s, with kaleidoscope action, instantaneous plot twists, and overlapping dialogue. And if you listen closely, you'll hear a couple of "in" jokes, one concerning Cary Grant's real name (Archie Leach), and another poking fun at Ralph Bellamy's patented "poor sap" screen image. Subsequent versions of The Front Page included Billy Wilder's 1974 adaptation, which restored Hildy Johnson's manhood in the form of Jack Lemmon, and 1988's Switching Channels, which cast Burt Reynolds in the Walter Burns role and Kathleen Turner as the Hildy Johnson counterpart. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Id: 10898968

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Recent Reviews

  • August 28, 2013
    Was told it's a classic...and, yeah, I guess I can see why. However, I do think this one is quite overrated.

    Or maybe I'm just not a massive fan of screwball comedies? Who knows?

    I did like this though, but I don't think it's a full on masterpiece or anything.

    Directed by th... read moree diverse Howard Hawks, this is a rapid-fire comedy about a feisty newspaper reporter who wants to leave her job to get married. Her boss, and ex-lover however, wants her back, and, to do so, he baits her with a news story she just can't resist.

    And plot wise, that's pretty much it. In the original play, the lady was a man, so, by changing the gender, the film adds elements of sexual tension, gender politics, and that kind of subtext, which, yeah, I'll give it a lot of credit for that, especially since this film is 73 years old.

    I think that's the key thing here. This was a seminal film, but it's not quite as groundbreaking as it once was. It doesn't have the edge it used to, but I can still admire it for it being so potent at one time.

    What really holds up though is the rapid fire dialogue. Now I really know where the Coens got their inspiration for fast talking characters, and where Altman was perhaps inspired in the overlapping dialogue department. And The Social Network. That one had some lightning quick lines, but this one might be the king of all that.

    And it is really good writing, too. This is a pretty witty and funny film, but modern audiences unfortunately may not get super into it if they're used to blue humor. It's quite clean here, though there is that undercurrent of sexual tension and subtlety.

    The broad basic plot is kinda ho hum (I thought), but still enjoyable, if only for the sharp characters, and the even sharper performances. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell are great here, and they seem to have a blast going toe to toe with one another.

    Besides the snappy dialogue, the film is also known for it's editing, and yeah, it's some pretty snazzy, influential stuff. The film is well shot, and put together in an even better fashion.

    So, bottom line: it's a classic, sure, but an overrated one. I dug it, but can say that I would have loved this even more if I was a bigger fan of this kind of thing, and especially had I seen this maybe a few years ago.
  • December 18, 2011
    Fast-paced screwball of a romantic comedy (and widely considered the first ever) elicits more laughs than many comedies today. The best part about HIS GIRL FRIDAY is that not only does it try for humor, it succeeds at almost every try. Look back at today's romantic comedies: it... read more's more often than not that one of them fails at much of its humor. In fact, this film makes modern rom-coms look downright dreadful.

    Full Review:
  • August 16, 2011
    Snappy dialogue and a quick-witted script highlight this film from 1940. Based on a play called "The Front Page", director Howard Hawks' "His Girl Friday" takes a comedically serious look at the sleezy world of yellow journalism. Star reporter Hildy (Rosalind Russell) is quitti... read moreng the newspaper business to go lead a respectable life as the wife of insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy). However, her former boss (and ex-husband) Walter would rather she forget all this respectability business and come back to work for him (and also marry him again). The story he hopes will bring her back is the execution of cop murderer Earl Williams (John Qualen). Walter is fighting to get a pardon for Williams, who killed a "colored" cop and the mayor is only trying to get him executed because of the election coming up (because the colored vote is very strong in that town). Apparently, Williams was driven "crazy" because of all the hard times poor people must face, and when a gun was placed in his hand, he was compelled to use it. I guess all this is logical by 1930s standards, but many of these plot details had me cringing. There's a strange amoral morality at work with these characters. They do horrible things to innocent people to get what they want, but I suppose since they're the heroes of the film, we're supposed to root for them. The story is good however, I wonder if it might've been a better drama than screwball comedy.
  • July 31, 2011
    And you thought the Social Network was fast. Full review later.
  • May 10, 2011
    Witty banter abound in this noirish classic. I can't believe that people can springboard of each other that perfectly, but then again being an actor in that day and age meant really being on top of your game if you were to survive. Thankfully this film has survived many, many y... read moreears later. The plot sort of gets lost and difficult to follow at times, but I was in it for its wit, which is more prevalent than a conventional story of its type usually is.
  • March 2, 2011
    A hard nosed newspaper woman decides to quit to marry and settle down, but when a death row inmate escapes and lands in her lap things get a little more complicated. His Girl Friday features one of the great screwball partnerships of all time as Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell bi... read morecker and swap wisecracks faster than a pair of Grouchos on amphetamines. Russell is a wonderfully independent female lead, giving as good as she gets from Grant's hilariously immoral and hustling newspaper editor. Beneath the fast paced laughs there is also plenty of black comedy and social satire to be had, poking fun at the media's attitude to what is "newsworthy", political corruption and a veiled commentary on the validity of the death penalty. Which all may go relatively unnoticed as you'll probably find yourself laughing too hard! The slightly flimsy plot gets a little lost underneath all the breathless banter and it's nowhere near as funny when Grant and Russell are not together on screen but as a whole, it's classic comedy.
  • fb619846742
    February 23, 2011
    An overall outstanding, impressive film dealing with a conniving newspaper editor (Cary Grant) who schemes to keep his ex-wife and star reporter (Rosalind Russell) around after she tells him that she plans on leaving town and getting married to her fiance (Ralph Bellamy) the next... read more day. While at times this movie approaches "incomprehensible" territory in the sense that sometimes you have absolutely no idea what is going on because each one the characters is talking at such a rapid speed, it is still an enjoyable ride that movies at a very fast pace. Cary Grant gives a stellar performance as a frustrated, ruthless individual who will do any thing to try to jump-start his relationship with his ex-wife. Russell is equally impressive, and the story is absolutely funny on a consistent basis, thanks mostly to Grant's facial expressions and timing. It is not the four-star classic many feel it is (mainly because much of the dialogue is not understandable, and it doesn't feel natural all the time, it feels sort of forced for the sake of being "different"), but it is still an overall very well done comedy that is certainly worth a view.
  • October 11, 2010
    this might be my favorite screwball comedy, just as funny as ever, with a sharp underpinning of social commentary. grant's flow is fantastic here and russell is with him every step of the way. shame this was their only film together; they're a great pair. lines fly so thick an... read mored fast several viewings are essential. far superior to the remake with matthau and lemmon called the front page
  • September 29, 2010
    This fast paced comedy feels a bit rushed at times, but they're only trying to give you the same feeling that the reporters have about having to rush all the time, which is cool. Great cast. This is a must see movie.
  • August 2, 2010
    More famous for Gypsy and Mame, Rosalind Russell plays bumbling perfectly. Cary Grant, as always is male, ego driven, and chauvinistic, in the best possible way. Howard Hawks directs the masterpiece.

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