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The Front Page (1974)

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.

Director:

Billy Wilder

Writers:

Ben Hecht (play), Charles MacArthur (play) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Lemmon ... Hildy Johnson
Walter Matthau ... Walter Burns
Susan Sarandon ... Peggy Grant
Vincent Gardenia ... Sheriff
David Wayne ... Bensinger
Allen Garfield ... Kruger
Austin Pendleton ... Earl Williams
Charles Durning ... Murphy
Herb Edelman ... Schwartz (as Herbert Edelman)
Martin Gabel ... Dr. Eggelhofer
Harold Gould ... The Mayor
Cliff Osmond ... Jacobi
Dick O'Neill ... McHugh
Jon Korkes ... Rudy Keppler
Lou Frizzell ... Endicott
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Storyline

When Hildy Johnson, the top reporter of a Chicago newspaper announces that he is quitting to get married, his editor, Walter Burns desperately tries to change his mind. When denial, cursing, and luring don't work, Walter resorts to tricks. It's the day before a supposed communist is to be hanged, and all Chicago waits with baited breath. Meanwhile, each of the papers has a man on the story trying to get a scoop or angle for themselves. With a train to catch at midnight to join his fiancé, Hildy is at first not interested, but events and his own habits work against him as the day unfolds, and he can't help but get roped in, especially when the man to be executed escapes and then almost literally falls into his lap. Written by RCBP_Collection

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Durning and Harold Gould appeared in The Sting (1973). Walter Matthau and Dick O'Neill appeared in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974). Robert Shaw co-starred in both. See more »

Goofs

The girls at the mayor's favorite cat house know him as The Green Hornet, after the radio superhero. The Green Hornet first aired in 1936. See more »

Quotes

'Honest Pete' Hartman Sheriff of Clark County: Sorry to break in, Sheriff, but we've located Williams. This time, for real.
'Honest Pete' Hartman Sheriff of Clark County: Where?
Officer Jacobi: On North Wabash, at the offices of the Friends of American Liberty. One of our patrols spotted him in the alley.
'Honest Pete' Hartman Sheriff of Clark County: All right. Get every available man. Seal off the whole area. But remember, God damn it, I want him taken alive!
Officer Jacobi: Check.
See more »

Connections

References The Phantom of the Opera (1925) See more »

Soundtracks

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 »

User Reviews

 
"Well, if it's in the papers, it must be true. They wouldn't print a lie."
25 December 2007 | by ackstasisSee 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).'


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 December 1974 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

The Front Page See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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