The Front Page (1974)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  17 December 1974 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 8,481 users  
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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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?


Final film of Noam Pitlik. See more »


When the blinds are pulled they are inside the window, after Earl crashes through the window the blinds are on the outside of the window. See more »


Walter Burns: [after unsuccessfully posing as probation officer Otto Fishbein] Tell Hildy I wish him all the luck in the world, and I mean it, or my name isn't Otto Fishbein.
See more »


References The Phantom of the Opera (1925) 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

"Well, if it's in the papers, it must be true. They wouldn't print a lie."
25 December 2007 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

When Howard Hawks released his classic screwball comedy, 'His Girl Friday,' in 1940, it was a pretty safe bet that the film would forever remain the definitive cinematic version of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's hit Broadway comedy of 1928. It takes a truly talented director to successfully remake a classic, and, indeed, talent is a quality that Billy Wilder has in great abundance, as he proved time and time again throughout a prolific career. Jack Lemmon stars as Hildebrand "Hildy" Johnson, an ace reporter with the Chicago Examiner newspaper in 1929, who decides to resign and get married on the eve of a major execution. Walter Matthau also stars as Walter Burns, the cunning, scheming newspaper boss who cannot afford to allow Hildy to quit the business at any cost. The two actors make an absolute dream partnership, and, as always, work incredibly well together {they had previously shared the screen in 'The Fortune Cookie (1966)' and 'The Odd Couple (1968),' and would do so on many more subsequent occasions}.

In the crowded press room of a Chicago jail, a cluster of rival newspaper reporters clamour about for the perfect exclusive story, centred around the execution of a convicted cop-killer, Earl Williams (Austin Pendleton). In their desperate bid to write a great article, these inherently dishonest journalists will even occasionally fabricate their own news stories, but this strategy turns out to be rather unnecessary on this night. As Hildy arrives at the jail to farewell his comrades, determined to ignore the shrewd obstacles of his ex-employer, the story of a lifetime falls directly into his lap, and now it will take ever ounce of his willpower to resist the urge to report and to start a new life in advertising. While the two leads are, of course, terrific, enjoyable supporting performances are given by Pendleton as the prisoner awaiting execution, Vincent Gardenia as the bumbling sheriff and Susan Sarandon as Hildy's would-be future wife.

Though 'The Front Page (1974)' {the third adaptation of the play} doesn't cover any different ground than 'His Girl Friday' did {with the exception of reverting Hildy back to a male character}, it is the quality of the script, the chemistry between the leads and the selection of quirky supporting characters that make this an essential complementary viewing experience for fans of Hawks' film. Watching this one made me remember just how much I had enjoyed 'His Girl Friday;' the story is a classic write-up of eccentric situations and quick-fire verbal clashes, and both movies exploit this to its full potential. I wouldn't go as far as saying that 'The Front Page' is a superior comedy, but it is a worthy effort, and Wilder fans could not possibly be disappointed. The screenplay was penned by Wilder and regular co-contributer I.A.L. Diamond, and is packed with an excellent selection of quotable one-liner insults. I also loved the sly reference to the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, at which, of course, Jack Lemmon was present in 'Some Like it Hot (1959).'

9 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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