Based on the 1931 play "The Front Page" by Ben Hecht (Notorious, Angels Over Broadway) and directed by Howard Hawks (Bringing Up Baby, Gentleman Prefer Blondes), this fast-paced screwball comedy stars the impeccable Cary Grant as Walter Burns, the unscrupulous editor of a Chicago tabloid. Rosalind Russell co-stars as Hildy Johnson, ace reporter and ex-wife of Burns. Convinced that the newspaper can print an article that will save the life of a man sentenced to hang for a murder he didn't mean to commit, Burns needs Hildy to write the front-page story. Unfortunately, Hildy has just announced that she's quitting the newspaper business for good and is about to remarry. Witty, rapid-fire dialogue replaces sight gags as Burns attempts to charm the conflicted Hildy into returning to her job... and to him!
Often credited as being one of the first movies that used over-lapping dialogue, His Girl Friday is simply one of the best Cary Grant movies ever made. It’s a romantic “screwball” comedy that features some the most machine gun-like dialogue in the whole history of film.
I honestly thought that Hildy was played by Katherine Hepburn at first. Rosalind Russell must have had her in mind when playing this part because she’s such a strong but funny character with that famously dry, sarcastic wit... at least where her ex-husband is concerned anyway! My favorite line has to be:
Walter Burns: There’s been a lamp burning in the window for you honeyIt’s hard to believe that Hildy’s part almost went to a man! His Girl Friday is very loosely based on the Broadway play The Front Page (it’s also a 1931 film) and this almost became a remake of it until the director Howard Hawks had his secretary read what later was to be Hildy’s part and loved the idea of a female instead and the rest is history! Personally, I loved this but I know some people don’t enjoy black and white films. This funny little gem is more than worth your time and attention though.
Hildy Johnson: Oh, I jumped out that window a long time ago.
TCM.com has several clips and articles on this film.
Complete Film (In the Public Domain):
The Women (1939)
Alice in Wonderland (1933)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Pretty Woman (1990)