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The Front Page (1974)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  17 December 1974 (USA)
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Reviews: 47 user | 33 critic

As a tabloid newspaper editor tries to prevent his top reporter from retiring, an escaped death row convict shows up at the office trying to convey his innocence.



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The Front Page (1974) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Schwartz (as Herbert Edelman)
The Mayor
Jon Korkes ...
Rudy Keppler
Lou Frizzell ...


Hildy Johnson is the top reporter on a Chicago newspaper during the 1920s. Tired of the whole game he's determined to quit his job to get married. His scheming editor, Walter Burns, has other plans though. It's the day before guilty (but insane) murderer, Earl Williams, is due to go to the gallows and Burns tempts Johnson to stay and write the story. Written by Col Needham <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's the hottest story since the Chicago Fire... And they're sitting on it.


Comedy | Drama | Romance


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 December 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Prima pagina  »

Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)


SEK 4,427,652 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In an early scene, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are arguing in Burns' office. Lemmon mentions having been out of town covering "the monkey trial." In 1999 Lemmon starred as Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind (1999), based on the 1925 trial of schoolteacher John Scopes, who who arrested and tried for violating a state law that forbade the teaching of evolution in schools. It became known as "the monkey trial". See more »


The Movie supposedly showing at the Balaban-Katz was the Silent The Phantom of The Opera, a movie that came out in 1925. Since the story takes place in 1929, it would have been unlikely that a 4 year old movie would be in a first-run theater. Furthermore, a Silent showing in a first run movie palace would have been unlikely in 1929 - almost everything were "Talkies" by then. Finally, if a Silent were for some reason playing, Peggy Grant wouldn't have stepped away from the organ console after "Button Up Your Overcoat." After the Newsreel she would have gotten down to business accompanying the Phantom. See more »


Peggy Grant: You don't mind waiting, do you?
Cab Driver: What's there to mind? The night is young, the orchids are smelling, the meter is running.
Cab Driver: Just made another nickel.
See more »


Version of His Girl Friday (1940) See more »


Button Up Your Overcoat
By Buddy G. DeSylva (as B.G. DeSylva), Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson
© 1928 by B.G. DeSylva, Brown & Henderson Inc.
© Renewed Assigned to Chappel & Co., Inc.
Published in U.S.A. by Chappel & Co., Inc. and Anne-Rachel Music Corp.
Performed by Susan Sarandon
See more »

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User Reviews

Updating a classic
25 March 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

I'm sure that the reason for Billy Wilder to do a remake of The Front Page is the fact that around the time this was made, politicians running for office on 'law and order' platforms was suddenly coming into vogue. The chief example among these was Richard Nixon and we all know what happened to him in 1974. Seemed like a case of perfect timing to me.

The original material that Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur wrote in the Twenties was perfect for Billy Wilder's cynical mind. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were born to play the roles of Hildy Johnson and Walter Burns.

Of course other things now that the Code was lifted could also be made more explicit. David Wayne's character of Benzinger is quite openly gay in the film. It's an interesting characterization he does. Of course he's the butt of all the jokes in the pressroom, but I thought it rather funny when at the end when title cards show what happened to all the principal characters, he was the only one with a happily ever after ending. He settled down with a life partner and ran an antique store. A rather subtle comment on the sanctity of heterosexual marriage decades before gay marriage was an issue.

Carol Burnett was a big fan of Billy Wilder and it is mentioned in a recent biography of Wilder that she wanted very much to be in one of his films. Carol got her wish and did very well as Molly the prostitute who befriends poor Earl Williams, the anarchist who accidentally killed a policeman and is sentenced to be hung.

Austin Pendleton is all right as Williams, but no one ever played the role quite like John Qualen in His Girl Friday. Qualen had a patent on those little men up against the system parts.

Speaking of His Girl Friday, my favorite part in all versions of The Front Page is that of the messenger from the governor carrying Earl Williams reprieve. No one will ever top Billy Gilbert in His Girl Friday though Paul Benedict of The Jeffersons gives a good account of himself as well.

Sad to say that demagogic politicians who bray about law and order are still among us. Maybe it's time for another remake of The Front Page.

23 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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