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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 »


Referenced in The Kids in the Hall: Episode #1.3 (1989) 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

Way ahead of its time
3 September 2005 | by See all my reviews

Way ahead of its time in both style and substance. The Front Page is a comic look at the underbelly of the newspaper business as well as a tough commentary on the times. In a press room outside the city jail, a group of newspaper reporters idly await the execution of a communist sympathizer accused of murder. Once the story heats up though, the press room becomes an absolute madhouse. The hilariously cynical script adapted from the play by Ben Hecht pulls no punches. Politics, the justice system, communist hysteria, love and marriage are all targets for the biting wit of the author. The script is complemented by a good ensemble cast. Pat O'Brien gives a good performance as Hildy Johnson, the star reporter for The Post, who is leaving his job for marriage. Adolphe Menjou steals the show, however, as Walter Burns, the conniving editor who will do anything to keep Johnson on the job. The rest of the news hounds are all expertly played, striking us as fun loving jokers one minute, but becoming downright violent the moment they smell a story. The movie also has a rare artistic style unequaled in most films. Though most of the movie takes place in the same location, the cinematography is done so well that we never feel we are watching a stage play. The cameras constantly move around the room, effectively putting us in the middle of the action. Pretty much everything about this film is done well. It is funny, edgy, artistic and thought provoking. Movies that can do all of that are few and far in between.

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