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his girl friday
(1940)

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          his
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his girl friday



h o w a r d   h a w k s ' s  :  c l a s s i c  ]


"The fastest comedy ever made!"
- Paul Page


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his girl friday
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his girl friday



    credits

    directed:

    produced:

    running time:

      92 minutes. B&W

    scr:

      Charles Lederer

    adapted:

      from The Front Page by Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht)

    phot:

      Joseph Walker

    mus:

      Sydney Cutner


    main cast:

    • Cary Grant
    • Rosalind Russell
    • Ralph Bellamy
    • Gene Lockhart
    • Porter Hall
    • Ernest Truex
    • Clarence Kolb
    • Roscoe Karns
    • Frank Jenks


    oscar nominations:

    • none

his girl friday

review

    What is most noticeable about this (partially) transsexual adaptation of The Front Page is its pace. It fairly crackles along in a welter of verbal slapstick and overlapping dialogue, and it says much for both cast and director that it never becomes so fast as to be incomprehensible.

    The Front Page itself has been folmed twice - by Lewis Milestone in 1931 and by Billy Wilder in 1974. But neither of the, as it were, straight versions was as good or as successful as His Girl Friday, probaly because what they lacked was the vital ingredient of sex, introduced here by the simple expedient of turning one of the two main protagonists, the ace reporter Hildebrand Johnson, into Hildegard Johnson (Rosalind Russell). At once the macho rivalry and bickering between Johnson and editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is converted into something much spicier - the battle of the sexes. Now Burns has a double reason for not wanting Hildy to leave town: not only would the paper have to find someone else to cover the hot murder story that's just breaking, but he would be losing (to Ralph Bellamy, her wimpish fiance) his ex-wife - the woman he loves, the one he has found he can't live with but equally can't live without. Grant, stiff-legged, stiff-necked, roaring and ranting, and Russell, all long, elegant limbs and neat timing, are in terrific form, well supported by the chorus of journalists in the courthouse newsroom.

    Under Howard Hawks's impeccable direction this may not be (as some critics have claimed for it) the funniest comedy ever made but it's well up on the list - and if anyone makes a counterclaim that it's the fastest, I'm not going to argue.

    In 1988 the same story, starring Kathleen Turner and Burt Reynolds, was transferred to a TV newsroom in Switching Channels. It didn't work.


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