During a high profile Mafia testimony case in California's Riverside County, a hired killer checks-in a hotel room near the courthouse while his next door depressed neighbor wants to commit suicide due to marital problems.
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
Although the movie was filmed on a Hollywood sound stage, the Balaban and Katz theater at 190 North State Street in the Chicago Loop where Arthur Burns attempts to derail Hildy's marriage plans by trying to convince his fiancee that he was a convicted sex offender who could not leave Chicago really did exist. Following an antitrust ruling in the late 1940's that required Paramount Pictures to divest Balaban and Katz, which owned its theater chain, the theater closed and B&K put Chicago's first commercial television station, WBBM-TV, on the air from that site. After CBS purchased WBBM in 1953 and moved its studios to 630 North McClurg Court - directly across the street from the first headquarters of Playboy Magazine - Balaban and Katz acquired a second station - WBKB-TV (now known as WLS-TV) - which it eventually sold to ABC. The old theater location is now the home for WLS-TV, ESPN radio affiliate WMVP and ABC's Midwest radio and TV bureau. Ironically, in 2008 WBBM moved back into the Loop at 22 West Washington Street, about a block-and-a-half from its original location. See more »
Earl Williams is scheduled to be executed by hanging in June of 1929. Electrocution replaced hanging as the method of capital punishment in Illinois in 1928. See more »
[Jennie brings a bucket of ice into the newsroom]
I snitched the ice from the morgue.
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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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