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The Front Page (1931)

TV-PG | | Comedy | 4 April 1931 (USA)
An investigative reporter sees an opportunity for the story of a lifetime when an accused murderer escapes hanging.



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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Murphy (as Walter L. Catlett)
Irving Pincus
Sheriff Hartman (as Clarence H. Wilson)
Fred Howard ...
Schwartz (as Freddie Howard)
Eugene Strong ...
Endicott (as Gene Strong)


Hildy Johnson, newspaper reporter, is engaged to Peggy Grant and planning to move to New York for a higher paying advertising job. The court press room is full of lame reporters who invent stories as much as write them. All are waiting to cover the hanging of Earl Williams. When Williams escapes from the inept Sheriff, Hildy seizes the opportunity by using his $260 honeymoon money to payoff an insider and get the scoop on the escape. However, Walter Burns, the Post's editor, is slow to repay Hildy back, hoping that he will stay on the story. Getting a major scoop looks possible when Hildy stumbles onto the bewildered escapee and hides him in a roll-top desk in the press room. Burns shows up to help. Can they keep Williams' whereabouts secret long enough to get the scoop, especially with the Sheriff and other reporters hovering around? Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 April 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Primeira Página  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


After the film fell into public domain, all the distributed prints were made from the lower quality international negative. The preferred US negative fell into obscurity. In 2016, the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences premiered a newly restored copy of the original US negative, which had not seen general distribution for several decades. The picture and sound quality of this restored print is far superior to most previously available versions of the film. See more »


The visor Murphy's wearing changes between camera angles from level to cocked at a steep angle. Making it obvious some scenes were either shot out of order. Or had to be redone. See more »


[first lines]
Title card: This story is laid in a mythical kingdom.
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Crazy Credits

The end credits consist of Walter and Hildy above a big 'THE END,' covering a large question mark, while the sound of the train is heard and music plays. There is also laughter, presumably coming from Walter Burns. See more »


Featured in Icons of Comedy: 50 Movie Mega Pack (2016) See more »


By the Light of the Silvery Moon
(1909) (uncredited)
Music by Gus Edwards
Played on banjo early in the film
See more »

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User Reviews

Ignore Camera Obscura's criticism!
2 July 2008 | by See all my reviews

The remarks by Camera Obscura do an injustice to this film and reveal a true absence of aesthetics governing the writer's appreciation for camera technique, acting, directing and pace. While I am an enormous fan of the subsequent remake, "His Girl Friday," by Howard Hawks, Lewis Milestone's direction of the original is invigorating and sets a pace that Hawks had to match before he began to trump it with his own use of crackling overlapping dialog. Way ahead of its time, the camera explores the set, and Milestone and his editor know how to use editing to create pace. This is not merely a filmed play. It is faithful to the play and excellently exploits the camera's ability to go to closeups, long shots, etc. The acting, particularly by Adolphe Menjou, is as good as in any version. I am also distressed by the comments of Eye 3 who agrees with Obscura that the dialog is shouted in order to be picked up by the microphones! The actors are shouting because their characters are excited - the rapid fire dialog coupled with shouting is an element of farce and is beautifully done, and in the televised version I just watched on TCM, entirely understandable! I do wish someone would restore this early gem to a print with a cleaned up picture and sound, but given its age, it is a remarkable treasure of early sound cinema.

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