Review: ‘His Girl Friday’

No doubt aiming to dodge the stigma of having His Girl Friday termed a remake, Columbia blithely skips a pertinent point in the credits by merely stating 'From a play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur.' It's inescapable, however, that this is the former legit and pic smash The Front Page. The trappings are different - even to the extent of making reporter Hildy Johnson a femme - but it is still Front Page.

No doubt aiming to dodge the stigma of having His Girl Friday termed a remake, Columbia blithely skips a pertinent point in the credits by merely stating ‘From a play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur.’ It’s inescapable, however, that this is the former legit and pic smash The Front Page. The trappings are different – even to the extent of making reporter Hildy Johnson a femme – but it is still Front Page.

Casting is excellent, with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in the top roles. Grant is the sophisticated, hard-boiled, smart-alec managing editor who was portrayed by Adolphe Menjou in the earlier version. A newly-injected part, required by the switch in sex of Hildy, is taken by Ralph Bellamy.

Principal action of the story still takes place in a courthouse pressroom. All of the trappings are there, including the crew of newshawks who continue their penny-ante poker through everything and the practice of the sheriff’s crew on the gallows for an execution in the morning. With the wider vista given the story, there is, in addition, the newspaper office.

Star-reporter Russell tells managing editor Grant, from whom she has just been divorced, that she is quitting his employ to marry another man. Grant neither wants to see her resign nor marry again, retaining hope of a rehitching. To prevent her escaping, he prevails upon her to cover one more story, that of a deluded radical charged with murder and whom the paper thinks is innocent. Escape of the convicted man, his virtual falling into Russell’s lap as she sits alone in the pressroom, and attempts by Grant and Russell to bottle up the story, are w.k., but still exciting.

His Girl Friday

Production

Columbia. Dir Howard Hawks; Producer Howard Hawks; Screenplay Charles Lederer; Camera Joseph Walker; Editor Gene Havlick Art Dir Lionel Banks

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1940. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Cary Grant Rosalind Russell Ralph Bellamy Gene Lockhart Helen Mack John Qualen

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