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Reviews & Ratings for
The Front Page More at IMDbPro »

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21 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Updating a classic

7/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
25 March 2006

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.

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21 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Criminally underrated

10/10
Author: el_monty_BCN from Barcelona, Spain
14 February 2001

MILD SPOILERS

The Front Page is one of my favourite Billy Wilder films, and by definition, this would mean also one of my favourite comedies of all time. I definitely agree with the view held by some that this magnificent work deserves much wider recognition than it has received. And here's the news: I HAVE seen His Girl Friday, and I STILL consider Wilder's take to be superior, even if the master himself dismissed it as a botch. Sorry to disagree, Mr. Wilder, but I believe that in few films you got a chance as good as this one to demonstrate your spectacular sense of rhythm and comic timing, and get performances as astounding from everyone involved; the Lemmon-Matthau unbeatable duo works like a perfectly greased machine at full blast and I definitely prefer their vicious bickering to the flirty, romantically-intentioned banter of Grant and Russell; and all the rest of the cast I think is perfect too, for example Sarandon, who with just one look can convey her frustration and her resigned acceptance at her husband-to-be's inability to change... I'm sorry, but I just can't find the slightest defect. To me, this is a perfect ten.

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11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

The Unseen Power of the Press

8/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
31 December 2010

On 06 June 1929, in Chicago, the press is covering from the tribunal press room, the hanging of the anarchist Earl Williams (Austin Pendleton) that accidentally killed a cop and will happen on the next day. Hildy Johnson (Jack Lemmon), who is the best newspaperman of the Chicago Examiner, tells his boss Walter Burns (Walter Matthau) that he will marry the widow concert pianist Peggy Grant (Susan Sarandon) on the next day and quits his job, telling that he will move to Philadelphia and work in advertisement business. Walter unsuccessfully tries to use a scheme to force Hildy to stay in the Examiner and cover the execution on the gallows. Meanwhile, the corrupt Sheriff "Honest" Pete Hartman (Vincent Gardenia) interrogates Earl with the psychologist Dr. Eggelhofer (Martin Gabel) for the last check whether the prisoner is sane or not and the doctor proposes a simulation of the murder, but Earl shots Dr. Eggelhofer with the sheriff's revolver on the groin and escapes. Meanwhile, the governor's representative Plunkett (Paul Benedict) comes with a retreat on Earl, but the dirty Mayor (Harold Gould) and the Sheriff do not acknowledge the receipt of the document and send Plunkett to a brothel. When Hildy finds Earl hidden in the press room, his sense of journalist prevails and he calls Walter to protect Earl together with the unseen power of the press.

"The Front Page" is a witty comedy by Billy Wilder in one of his last works. I have never had the chance to see the original 1931 film, but this cynical remake is great, with top-notch performances of Walter Matthau in the role of a Machiavellian editor that has no ethics and presses his top journalist to stay in his newspaper. Jack Lemmon and Vincent Gardenia have also excellent performances. The ironic conclusion with the fate of each character is hilarious. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "A Primeira Página" ("The Front Page")

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Witty and fast-paced

9/10
Author: PWNYCNY from United States
17 January 2007

When the subject of great movies is being discussed, this movie must be included in the discussion. This movie is a witty and fast-paced satire that pokes fun at the news media. The characters are memorable and the acting is fantastic. Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon and Vincent Gardenia are great in this movie, but most impressive is Carol Burnett's wonderful and powerful performance which dominates every scene in which she appears. But what makes this movie even more appealing is that it is a story of how the quest for the extra buck can corrupt everyone involved, with tragic consequences. Billy Wilder is very strong on this point and for this reason this movie is worth watching.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Wilder and Hawks don't trample on the original; they provide, 'Extra, Extra'.

8/10
Author: Clark Richards from United States
2 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I found 'The Front Page' to be a bit of a step up from the 1931 original and a couple of notches under 'His Girl Friday'. The thing is, one could argue for quite some time why one version is superior to another, but in this case, with these movies, it would be a really silly argument to make.

The only way 'The Front Page' seems to suffer (from what I've read on this site) is that its 1) Not as fast paced as 'His Girl Friday' and 2) Too much profanity mixed in with too much yelling.

Yes, it's not as quickly paced as 'His Girl Friday', but there aren't too many movies that are as fast paced AND as good as 'His Girl Friday'.

Sure, there's more profanity in this film than in the original and Hawks' version put together, but that's because there really wasn't any profanity in those earlier films. The other films used innuendo and some expertly placed camera mugging to get their laughs on film while getting over on the censors. The 'Wilder' version wasn't restricted to how far their dialog could go; they had more freedom and could abandon subtlety and nuance. I guess sometimes freedom can take you too far.

The profanity in this film doesn't bother me at all, besides, the film takes place in a newspaper room where the newspaper writers spend most of their time playing poker, drinking alcohol and making fun of prostitutes. Perhaps Wilder's version is more realistic in this regard. I think maybe the reason Billy Wilder slowed everything down and had so much yelling was to make sure that people actually heard the dialog in the film. It's too bad all they seemed to hear in the film was the profanity; there are some great moments of witty dialog amongst the crude and profane expletives.

Jack Lemmon (Hildy Johnson) and Walter Matthau (Walter Burns) are perfectly cast in their roles. I would say Jack Lemmon is a definite upgrade in the case of Lemmon vs. Pat O'Brien in the role of Hildy Johnson, but perhaps a close tie between Jack and Rosalind Russell. Maybe the edge goes to Rosalind. Maybe.

Matthau and Adolphe Menjou work out to be about the same. Menjou was the best thing about the original, but even so he rates about the same as Matthau in the role of Walter Burns. Matthau is always brilliant. I guess Cary Grant gets the edge because he's Cary Grant and had much more to work with. Grant has great chemistry with Rosalind Russell, as does Lemmon and Matthau, but Grant and Russell were working on a sexual chemistry that is not at all evident, let alone not appropriate, between Lemmon and Matthau. Grant is even better with his digs against Ralph Bellamy than Matthau is with Susan Sarandon. However, the moment where Matthau and Sarandon are both vying for the attention of Lemmon is fantastic. Once Matthau leans over Lemmon's typewriter and puts his arm around his ace reporter lost in his work, not in his marital plans, he knows that he's won the battle; furthermore he knows that she knows he's won the battle.

Oh no, I just realized that I started to make a silly argument.

See all three, start with the original, save 'His Girl Friday' for last. The Wilder version will have to suffice to being the glossy, shiny, colorful pull out middle section you get to read in the bathroom.

8/10. Clark Richards

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

"Well, if it's in the papers, it must be true. They wouldn't print a lie."

7/10
Author: ackstasis from Australia
25 December 2007

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).'

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16 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

The best

Author: George Putnam from Los Angeles, CA
2 March 1999

I also do not understand the critics on this one. It's fast-paced, magnificently cynical throughout, unabashedly edgy, and the one-liners come faster than zingers on your average sit-com. Plus it captures the world of urban newspapers better than other movies capture the world of almost anything they attempt.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Great cast gives powerful performances as Matthau as scheming managing editor and Lemmon as convincing star journalist

7/10
Author: ma-cortes
16 January 2012

Rip-roaring third remake of the classic newspaper comedy ¨The Front Page¨ makes some memorable exchanges and sensational acting from everyone . Cynical editor newspaper (Walter Matthau) wants to get a big scoop on a death row which involves convincing star reporter (Jack Lemmon) to come back to work and put off her marriage to handsome pianist woman (Susan Sarandon) . Lemmon can't resist covering some good news , even when it mean helping a condemned man (Austin Pendleton) getaway the law . And the escaped convicted murderer offers the journalist an exclusive interview . Other reporters (Dick O'Neill, Charles Durning, Allen Garfield , David Wayne , Cliff Osmond) also give hilarious acting in this breathless pursuit of an exclusive with the escaped death row inmate .

A splendid remake of the Ben Hecht , Charles MacArthur play about a scheming managing publisher of a 1920s Chicago newspaper and his incautious reporter. Very good performance from Jack Lemmon as ace journalist who wants to quit the business and get married and exceptional Walter Matthau as editor who finds out his main reporter wants to leave him and gets in the way . Phenomenal playing from everyone , including a top-notch secondary cast as Carol Burnett , Vincent Gardenia , Harold Gould and magnificent direction render this frequent-told story more funny than usual . One of Wilder's most inventive and furious screen combats in which Lemmon and Matthau are given equal footing with staccato dialog and marvelous interpretations . I.A.L. Diamond's brilliantly tart screenplay overlaps dialogue and scenes to carry the black farce along the roller-coasted speed . Certainly the kind of movie that Billy Wilder only can make , though achieved moderated success in 1974 . Meanwhile , do't miss this stunning adaptation.

Other versions about this classic story are the following : 1931 ¨The Front Page¨ by Lewis Milestone with Adolph Menjou , Edward Everett Horton , Mae Clark and Pat O'Brien in his film debut ; ¨His Girl Friday ¨ 1940 by Howard Hawks with Gary Grant , Ralph Bellamy and Rosalind Russell with the pivotal character assigned to a woman instead a man ; ¨Switching channels¨ 1988 by Ted Kotcheff with Kathleen Turner , Christopher Reeve , Ned Beatty and Burt Reynolds in which an attractive TV anchorwoman want to marry tycoon but his mean ex-husband impedes it .

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

May the wind at your back never be your own.

8/10
Author: lastliberal from United States
31 May 2007

Billy Wilder's remake of the Ben Hecht play is a little better than the 1931 original, but not as good as the 1940 Cary Grant version (The Front Page).

Still, Jack Lemmon (won an Oscar the year before for Save the Tiger) and Walter Matthau (The Fortune Cookie, Kotch) give excellent performances, and Vincent Gardenia (Oscar nominated the year before for Bang the Drum Slowly ) and Susan Sarandon (a relatively new actress) support them to the extent that this is still a superior film.

Funny, funny film about politics and newspapers and some the the early seventies best actors. Catch this one and also see The Front Page.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

One of my top 10 films of all time.

10/10
Author: Stephen Stratford (stephen@sp-stratford.demon.co.uk)
13 January 1999

A superb film with a brilliant script. Full of characters you can believe in. They all have superb characters, who act as you may well expect them to. Why some film critics rate it so low is strange to me - perhaps the film was too close to the mark? Wilder/Diamond did have the advantage of basing their film on an excellent stage play.

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