Sunday, July 10, 2016

Tonight's Movie: His Girl Friday (1940)

I've been a bit under the weather the last few days, hence the quiet blog.

As I started to turn the corner and feel better, I thought a familiar film which is also famously rather loud would not only entertain me but help keep me awake! And indeed it did -- that movie being Howard Hawks' fast-paced HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940).

I'd previously seen this adaptation of the Hecht-MacArthur play THE FRONT PAGE at least twice; truth to tell, despite the film's classic status it's never been one of my favorite Cary Grant films, although Rosalind Russell, in one of her breakout roles, is absolutely swell. In fact, seeing HIS GIRL FRIDAY back to back with SUSPICION (1941) underscored Grant's ability to play sleazy characters all too well!

Grant plays newspaper editor Walter Burns, who tries to win back his ex-wife Hildy (Russell) -- as both reporter and wife -- on the eve of the execution of a murderer (John Qualen).

The newly divorced Hildy is now engaged to Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), who wants to give her a "normal life" in Albany. Bruce -- described by Walter as "looking like that fellow in the movies, Ralph Bellamy" -- is a nice guy, although it turns out he has a dragon of a mama (Alma Kruger) who would be living with the couple.

It's soon clear that sweet, trusting Bruce is far too tame for Hildy. It's the quintessential Bellamy "other man" role, as he ends up in jail multiple times in the course of a day while trying to leave town with his bride-to-be!

I enjoyed this viewing of HIS GIRL FRIDAY more than I have in the past, for two reasons. The first is that I was impressed with just how relevant its look at the reporting profession remains decades later; the reporters may act as though they have a noble profession, but as Mollie Malloy (Helen Mack) makes clear, the reporters are as apt to create news as cover it. They all end up looking pretty silly despite their self-importance.

The second reason for my enjoyment was I've gotten to know so many more of the faces in the movie well in recent years. What a delight to see Regis Toomey, James Millican, Frank Jenks, Cliff Edwards, and Roscoe Karns as newspapermen. The cast also includes Gene Lockhart, Porter Hall, Billy Gilbert, Irving Bacon, Ann Doran, Abner Biberman, and Frank Orth.

Add in Russell in one of her key career woman roles, dishing it out and taking it from the boys in the newsroom, and HIS GIRL FRIDAY remains a film very much worth seeing.

HIS GIRL FRIDAY was shot in black and white by Joseph Walker. It runs 92 minutes.

HIS GIRL FRIDAY is available on a single-title DVD or as part of a three-disc, three-movie comedy set. It can also be streamed on Amazon.


Blogger Jerry E said...

So sorry to hear you have been under the weather lately, Laura - the quietness on the blog had indeed been duly noted!! A good choice of movie to clear out some cobwebs. Grant at his peak......

8:09 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Jerry,

Thanks much!

"Clearing out the cobwebs" is a great way to put it, HIS GIRL FRIDAY was perfect for that!

Best wishes,

9:18 AM  
Blogger SimpleGifts said...

You always write a wonderful post, even when you're under the weather. Feel better, Laura :-) Jane

12:20 PM  
Blogger Net - "It's a Wonderful Movie" said...

This movie is one that always keeps me on my toes! Love all the dialogue and sparring back and forth between Grant and Russell. It's a fascinating mystery!

Sorry to hear you were under the weather! Hope you are feeling much better! I find a good movie is often the best medicine!

Blessings! Net

2:32 PM  
Blogger KC said...

I have never been able to get into this film, even though it is made up of so many great elements. You may have convinced me to give it another try. Get better soon. Summertime sickness is so lame!

2:37 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Oh, thank you so much, Jane! That's a real "pick me up" coming from you. :)

Net, I agree, a good movie does so much to lift the spirits! Thank you for the good wishes!

KC, I would love to know what you think if you revisit this movie. I agree, we're supposed to be relaxing and having fun in the summer, not fighting off illness! LOL. Fortunately there's still a lot of July left to enjoy!

Best wishes,

5:50 PM  
Blogger Todd Mason said...

Part of what I like so much about the film is how it improves upon THE FRONT PAGE, by introducing the romantic and gender issues...and even more deftly that the play manages to smoothly pass from farce to incisive topical satire to, however momentarily though effectively, to deadly seriousness...occasionally literally.

"Gentlemen of the Press." remains a catchphrase for me, in the specific context here. There aren't too many frothy comedies that can sustain a scene such as the one leading up to that calm expression of utter contempt.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Todd Mason said...

And you have my sympathies...a bit under the weather on this coast, too.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the sympathy and your thoughts on HIS GIRL FRIDAY, Todd! Appreciate it!

Best wishes,

8:37 AM  

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