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His Girl Friday [The Criterion Collection] [Blu-ray] 
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One of the fastest, funniest, and most quotable films ever made, His Girl Friday stars Rosalind Russell as reporter Hildy Johnson, a standout among cinema’s powerful women. Hildy is matched in force only by her conniving but charismatic editor and ex-husband, Walter Burns (played by the peerless Cary Grant), who dangles the chance for her to scoop her fellow newswriters with the story of an impending execution in order to keep her from hopping the train that’s supposed to take her to Albany and a new life as a housewife. When adapting Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s smash hit play The Front Page, director Howard Hawks had the inspired idea of turning star reporter Hildy Johnson into a woman, and the result is an immortal mix of hard-boiled newsroom setting with remarriage comedy. Also presented here is a brand-new restoration of the 1931The Front Page, the famous pre-Code adaptation of the same material, directed by Lewis Milestone.
- New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- New 2K restoration of Lewis Milestone’s The Front Page (1931), made from a recently discovered print of the director’s preferred version
- New interview with film scholar David Bordwell about His Girl Friday
- Archival interviews with director Howard Hawks
- Featurettes from 1999 about Hawks, actor Rosalind Russell, and the making of His Girl Friday
- Radio adaptation of His Girl Friday from 1940
- New piece about the restoration of The Front Page
- New piece about playwright and screenwriter Ben Hecht
- Radio adaptations of the play The Front Page from 1937 and 1946
- His Girl Friday trailers
- PLUS: A booklet featuring essays on His Girl Friday and The Front Page by film critics Farran Smith Nehme and Michael Sragow
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Top Customer Reviews
Even if you think that you don’t know this 1940 Howard Hawks version of what was originally a stage play called ‘The Front Page’, you may be surprised to discover that it’s more familiar than you expected. There was a very successful 1974 film version (which is not included in the extras) of this same play starring Walter Matthau as the Walter Burns character, Jack Lemmon as Hildy Johnson and Susan Sarandon as Hildy’s fiancée Peggy Grant. There was also a pretty good 1931 film version of the same play, and a restored version of that is included in the extras.
Anyway, here in this 1940 film version of that play, Cary Grant is Walter Burns the tough talking editor of the Morning Post who discovers that his ex-wife and former whizz kid journalist Hildy Johnson (yes, Hildy is a woman played by Rosalind Russell here) is about to get married. Walter does everything he can to prevent that from happening – in particular, he tempts Hildy to cover the upcoming execution of a convicted murderer.
So in this version you get a top director Howard Hawks and two top of the line actors in the main roles, Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. You also get the clever technique of everyone either talking at once, or the ends of lines overlapping with the start of somebody else’s new line. It’s hard to describe but it makes for busily exciting dialogue which crackles along with lots of quotable lines – much the same as ‘Casablanca’.
The net result of this is that ‘His Girl Friday’ features on lots of lists of all-time favourites, including a top 20 spot on one of the American Film Institute’s lists. A classic comedy, here beautifully presented. 5 stars.