July 10, 2013

His Girl Friday

An admittedly sharp-witted newspaper comedy starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, who talk very, very fast. Directed by Howard Hawks and adapted by Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht, and Charles MacArthur from the popular Hecht and MacArthur play The Front Page (which was filmed before and since under that title). Hawks changed the character of Hildy Johnson into a woman, and apparently took the show from good to great, at least according to most critics. The plot involves newspaper-man Cary Grant's attempt to win back his ex-wife, a talented, respected journalist in her own right, who's about to remarry (to a dull insurance salesman played by Ralph Bellamy). There are some wonderful lines in His Girl Friday, but I've always struggled with these old comedies: they almost never hold my interest. I will vouch for the performances of Grant and Russell though: they're top notch, with a lot of classic improvisation. You can certainly see the influence of this film on countless others. 92 min. 1940. ½

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