on 31 August 2002
Cary Grant is at his comedic peak here as an unscrupulous newspaper editor with Rosalind Russell as his ex wife. Ralf Bellamy plays the strait man to Grant and Russell’s hilarious dialogue. What lets it down, as a product is two fold; firstly the poor quality picture (at one point there is a break with black screen and no audio) I have videoed it from TV better than this. Secondly there are no special features: no sub titles, no interviews nothing. There is plenty of footage that could have been added from Cary Grant or Howard Hawks the director. As the original was on shot wide for the cinema why do we have to have 4:3 ratio for old TVs??? More time and a little thought would have produced a better product. Possibly the fastest moving comedy ever and for that I give it five stars.
on 13 November 2015
Another atrocious release from Elstree Hill Entertainment, a cheapskate outfit that takes absolutely no care with the movies
that fall into its rapacious hands. Most of the film has been transferred out of focus, the screen is squeezed (anamorphic) but has been transferred in academy format, and the image breaks up on occasion. We can only hope that the ghosts of Ben Hecht et al come back to drum this rip-off release company out of existence.
on 2 November 2002
Cary Grant plays a newspaper editor and Rosalind Russell plays his ex-wife and fellow reporter who is about to quit her job and remarry. Grant doesnï¿½t want to lose one of his star reporters, and he is unscrupulous enough to do just about anything to stop the marriage going ahead, including having her prospective husband framed and thrown in prison- not once, but twice. Russell is desperate to leave journalism behind her and start a family and a home, but her journalistic instincts flair up when she hears of a man about to be unfairly executed and she thinks she can stop it. Watching her facilitate between her desire to be a journalist and a housewife is genuinely funny. The film is gripping and Howard Hawks, one of Hollywoodï¿½s greatest directors, handles the direction with real flair, never letting the pace slacken. Cary Grant is a master of comic timing and both he and Russell make a great double act. The rest of the cast put in a sterling performance. This is a much better film than the more famous Billy Wilder remake.
on 3 October 2015
I don't care what anyone says.His Girls Friday is One of those films that's reputation fuels it more than anything else.It is a Movie that is nothing like as Funny as people would have you believe,with all it's overlapping dialogue and Love Hate Chemistry between the Two leads.what you actually get is Overlapping Dialogue at such a machinegun rate that it's just Stupid as well as the fact that the Overrated Cary Grant has an Accent that Nobody in Britain but him Speaks and it's Grating on the Ears.Maybe it was Funny at the time,and I like The Old Comedy Flicks,but now it's just a self indulgent piece that Film historians and fans either pretend they've seen or pretend they like because that's what they're expected to say.
Howard Hawks' 1940 comedy masterpiece His Girl Friday, with its razor sharp script by Charles Lederer (based on the Hecht/MacArthur play), is, for me, one of the finest ever Hollywood comedies, right up there with the likes of Some Like It Hot and The Apartment. Whilst, during the second half of the film the pace does let up slightly, it is the film's first 30 minutes or so that provides a viewing experience unparalleled in terms of comedic pace and killer one-liners (indeed, on my recent 30th or so viewing, His Girl Friday's seemingly unending stream of jokes had me in stitches once again).
Of course, at the centre of the film are two magnificent comic performances from the inestimable Cary Grant at (for me) his career best as the sharp-witted, duplicitous newspaper editor Walter Burns and (very nearly as good) Rosalind Russell as Burns' divorced wife, the ex-news hack, Hildy Johnson, who is still trying to extricate herself from Burns' romantic clutches and from her career calling, by means of her engagement to Ralph Bellamy's homely, dull insurance salesman, Bruce Baldwin. The opening sequences of Hawks' film, as Walter attempts to undermine Hildy's marriage intentions are some of the funniest screen sequences I have ever seen, and Grant (exhibiting clear signs of the influence of Graucho Marx on his comic acting) is at his most sublime ('That honeymoon - was it my fault - did I know that coal-mine was gonna have another cave-in?).
The film's storyline becomes almost superfluous in the wake of the film's unrelenting pace and barrage of funny lines - however, the plot of convicted cop-murderer Earl Williams (John Qualen) being on the verge of being hanged, escaping and then being secretly hidden by Burns and Johnson (in order to secure their scoop) is ripe for comic twists and turns. Hawks, and cinematographer Joseph Walker, brilliantly capture the hectic, smoke-filled bustle of a newspaper office, together with a set of perfectly cast, well-worn, wise-cracking, cynical hack journalists. In addition to Hawks' two killer central performances, His Girl Friday is peppered with other fine cameo performances - Abner Biberman is perfect as Burns' street-wise, criminal side-kick 'Diamond' Louie, Gene Lockhart and Clarence Kolb are superb respectively as the bungling Sheriff Hartwell and the corrupt Mayor Fred, Billy Gilbert is great as the inept, Oliver Hardy-esque Joe Pettibone, whose last minute reprieve for Williams the Sheriff and Mayor attempt to conceal, whilst Qualen is also impressive as the pathetic, condemned Williams.
Another perhaps surprising feature of Hawks' film is the near total absence of any musical soundtrack, other than the jaunty opening film theme and the romantic accompaniment to the film's poignant ending. Perhaps the best way to rationalise this fact is that there just isn't time to listen to music, given the (near) constant dialogue bombardment.
For me, one of Hollywood's finest (which with the latest DVD release also has featurettes on the film, Hawks, Grant and Russell).
on 29 September 2004
Of course the original movie is a terrific piece of work but this version is very, very disappointing. The picture quality is poor - out of focus and too much contrast, and the sound quality isn't much better. Also a considerable portion of the image at the sides simply isn't there at all. Overall it looks like a bad pirated version or a copy of a copy of a copy.
on 17 June 2012
Finally, after all these years, I caught up with this film courtesy of the Columbia Classics DVD that I managed to get my hands on. Looks like I got lucky -- there are, apparently, some stinking versions out there, but I've no complaints about this. The image gets a bit spotty sometimes, but it's otherwise clear and the sound is fine.
And the film....ah, the film! What an incredible piece of work, what an amazing script. Fast, furious, savagely witty with performances that bubble and bite at the same time. The direction, typical of Hawkes, is both loose and wonderfully fluid, not to mention way ahead of its time, as he lets his actors improvise and talk over each other. The dialogue positively hums with energy and the actors dance over this dynamite with consumate grace and ease. Grant's talent for comedy can never be overstated, and Russell is more than a match for him. The chemistry between them is extraordinairy, and it helps that they are supported by a cast in which everyone -- and I mean everyone -- absolutely shines. Billy Gilbert's brief appearance made me laugh out loud, and even Ernest Truex turns his small role into a wonderfully understated, comical gem. Everything works, and its madcap, coruscating style and thoroughly enjoyable performances ensure that this film stands up even today, and does not disappoint.
This version includes a few extras, including four "featurettes" on Grant, Russell, Hawkes and the film itself. They're only about two or three minutes long each, so they're really just tasters, but the glimpses of the original "The Front Page" are interesting. It would be great for someone to pull a "Maltese Falcon" and release the two versions together. Anyone? Maybe even throw in the 1974 Billy Wilder version?