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USA 1940
Directed by
Howard Hawks
92 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

His Girl Friday

Cary Grant, in one of his definitive performances (listen for the "Archie Leach" in-joke towards the film's end), hams it to the hilt as newspaper editor Walter Burn opposite the steadfast Rosalind Russell as a former reporter and his ex-wife who is determined to settle down with a corn-fed mamma's boy (Ralph Bellamy. reprising his role in The Awful Truth, 1937) but can't quite give up the thrill of the journalistic chase as Burns's paper tries to save a hapless loser, Earl Williams (John Qualen), from the gallows.

His Girl Friday is a classic, fast-paced, almost manic-in-the-Marx-Bros-tradition (sometimes Grant affects Groucho's intonations) screwball comedy scripted by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer. Hawks transformed Hecht's and Charles MacArthur's 1928 Broadway newspaper satire 'The Front Page' (the original film version of which was scripted by Lederer) changing one of the main male characters, Hildy Johnson, into Hildegaard Johnson and making her Burn’s ex-wife.

Hawks doesn't stray far from a stage setting and the handling of Williams's escape lacks wit but Grant and Russell work wonderfully together and by and large the journey to the inevitable romantic reunion is a lot of fun, no less so than the day it was made.




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