His Girl Friday

( 9 )

Overview

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 into 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...
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Overview

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 into 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.
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
One of the all-time-great comedies, His Girl Friday is a breakneck-paced joyride through the newspaper business, filled with some of the sharpest rapid-fire dialogue to ever grace the screen. Directed by Hollywood master Howard Hawks and adapted from the play The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, His Girl Friday stars Cary Grant as a newspaper editor who will stop at nothing to lure his former star reporter Rosalind Russell -- who also happens to be his ex-wife -- back onto the newspaper and into his life. Hawks's typically clean, unobtrusive direction gives the actors plenty of room to work, and they make the most of it, reveling in the witty repartee and sprinting gleefully through scenes of nonstop, overlapping dialogue that may set a words-per-minute record. The jaded view of the press that marked the original play survives intact, but Hawks's addition of a romantic story line the Russell character was a man in The Front Page turns the material into a battle of the sexes -- a classic of the form. Grant, of course, delivers his lines with effortless impeccability; his sense of comic timing is nothing short of perfect. Russell matches him stride for stride and line for line, making for the kind of combustible screen chemistry that is the stuff of legend. The Columbia DVD includes a commentary track and four short documentaries.
All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
It's doubtful that one could find a movie as fast-paced as Howard Hawks' His Girl Friday, and next-to-impossible to find a film of the period more laced with sexual electricity. Decades after its release, the comedy-thriller adapted from Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's play The Front Page holds up as a masterpiece of pacing and performance, and even manages a few healthy swipes at some of officialdom's sacred cows. At the time, His Girl Friday was also a piece of groundbreaking cinema for the rules it broke: Hawks' version added an element of sexual tension that was about the only thing missing from the original play and the 1931 film version, in which main characters Walter Burns and Hildy Johnson are men engaged in a symbiotic/exploitative professional relationship. Hawks transmuted Hildy Johnson into the persona of Rosalind Russell, who was entering her prime as an archetype of the ambitious, energetic woman. Coupled with Cary Grant's cheerful nonchalance as the manipulative editor Walter Burns, the material -- which was fairly scintillating on its own terms -- took on a fierce sexual edge that made the resulting film a 92-minute exercise in eroticism masquerading as a comic thriller. Russell may never have had a better role than Hildy Johnson; she became a screen symbol for the intelligent, aggressive female reporter, decades before Candice Bergen's star turn as television's Murphy Brown. Amid all of the jockeying for superiority, and the sparring between Grant and Russell -- which, in many ways, anticipates the jousting between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in Hawks' own The Big Sleep, made four years later -- His Girl Friday found room to enhance some of the issues from the original play, including cynicism about government, the justice system and freedom of the press.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/24/2012
  • UPC: 874757012391
  • Original Release: 1940
  • Source: American Pop Classic
  • Time: 1:32:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 29,942

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Cary Grant Walter Burns
Rosalind Russell Hildy Johnson
Ralph Bellamy Bruce Baldwin
Gene Lockhart Sheriff Hartwell
Helen Mack Mollie Malloy
Porter Hall Murphy
Clarence Kolb Mayor
Roscoe Karns McCue
John Qualen Earl Williams
Ernest Truex Roy Bensinger
Cliff Edwards Endicott
Frank Jenks Wilson
Regis Toomey Sanders
Abner Biberman Diamond Louie
Frank Orth Duffy
Alma Kruger Mrs. Baldwin
Billy Gilbert Joe Pettibone
Pat West Warden Cooley
Edwin Maxwell Dr. Egelhoffer
Irving Bacon Gus
Wade Boteler Jail Guard
Edmund Cobb Cop
Ralph Dunn Guard
Earl Dwire Mr. Davis
Pat Flaherty
Marion Martin
Eddie Hart
Technical Credits
Howard Hawks Director, Producer
Lionel Banks Art Director
Sidney B. Cutner Score Composer
Gene Havlick Editor
Robert Kalloch Costumes/Costume Designer
Charles Lederer Screenwriter
Morris W. Stoloff Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Joseph Walker Cinematographer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    ONE FOR THE AGES

    I can only say what every film buff already knows: this film is perfect.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Grant + Russell + Rapid-fire Script = A Lot of Laughs

    Columbia Home Video outdid themselves with this rendition of His Girl Friday. For the most part, the images from this 1940 film are crisp and easy to watch. The soundtrack has been cleaned up of all pops,whistles and crackles that were evident on the public domain VHS tapes that were
    available for so many years. You will not catch all of the rapid-fire dialogue the first time you watch this print. Sit back and enjoy a few laughs at this version of The Front Page, one of the greatest newspaper stories ever performed on the stage or on film. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell shine !! Enjoy !!

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    He looks like that Ralph Bellamy Character

    Cary Grant is awesome. He had chemistry with everyone. This is a good DVD to own since it takes multiple viewings to catch all the dialog. Everyone is talking a mile a minute, running in and out of doorways, you won't get all the jokes in one viewing. <BR/><BR/>It has one of the first meta-jokes I've heard in a movie. Cary Grant tells one of his lackeys to follow a character played by Ralph Bellamy. His lackey asks how he will recognize the guy and Cary tells him "Oh, he looks like that Ralph Bellamy character." -- Makes me smile everytime.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Good Movie with Biting Humor!

    His Girl Friday is a good comedy starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell and they are both superb and both get some very witty, snappy dialogue. I really enjoyed the sarcastic comments!

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    Posted October 3, 2012

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    Posted May 7, 2010

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    Posted October 31, 2008

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    Posted November 19, 2013

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    Posted January 13, 2009

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews