Having been away for four months, Hildy Johnson walks into the offices of the New York City based The Morning Post, where she is a star reporter, to tell her boss, editor Walter Burns, that she is quitting. The reason for her absence was among other things to get a Reno divorce, from, of all people, Walter, who admits he was a bad husband. Hildy divorced Walter largely because she wanted more of a home life, whereas Walter saw her more as a driven hard-boiled reporter than subservient homemaker. Hildy has also come to tell Walter that she is taking the afternoon train to Albany, where she will be getting married tomorrow to staid straight-laced insurance agent, Bruce Baldwin, with whose mother they will live, at least for the first year. Walter doesn't want to lose Hildy, either as a reporter or a wife, and if he does, doesn't believe Bruce is worthy of her. Walter does whatever he can at least to delay Hildy and Bruce's trip, long enough to persuade Hildy to stay for good. His plan ...Written by
Another version of "The Front Page" starring Grant and Russell
Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell make great sparring partners in "His Girl Friday," a remake of "The Front Page." Grant plays the conniving newspaper publisher Walter Johnson, and Rosalind Russell is the reporter Hildy Johnson, a woman this time, and Johnson's ex-wife. She's trying to get remarried, move to Albany, and quit the newspaper business, but Walter can't bear it. He cons her into helping out with a controversial death row case and then makes sure her fiancée (Ralph Bellamy) suffers a series of mishaps - arrest for stealing a watch, arrest for "mashing," arrest for counterfeiting, and the theft of his wallet. This all happens while Hildy interviews Earl Williams, a man due to be hung the next day... and then hides him in a roll-top desk in the courthouse press room when he escapes during a psychiatric evaluation.
It's madcap, all right, and there are no two better people to carry it off than Grant and Russell, who make a great team. It's a hilarious story, with the most rapid-fire, non-stop dialog ever heard anywhere, often with several conversations going on at once. It's exhausting trying to keep up with it.
Strangely, without computers and cell phones, the story of journalists working on a story holds up because the emotions and activities are realistic and still go on. It's as Hildy describes - no set schedule, no normal meals, and long hours. Nothing much has changed.
This is a frenetic comedy, and while the impending hanging of Earl Williams is certainly serious, this plot is more of an excuse to observe the machinations of Hildy and Walter - it's a subplot, though it drives the main story.
"The Front Page" is a favorite of Hollywood's, remade many times - three versions under its original title, a TV series, two TV productions, plus the film "Switching Channels." And of course, "His Girl Friday," possibly the best of all of them.
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