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3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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I've heard enough talk about His Girl Friday that I knew at some point I had to watch it. And a showing on Turner Classic Movies provided the perfect opportunity for me to take in this classic. I'd like to say I loved it, but I did have some problems with it.

Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is the editor of a New York paper. His top reporter is Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), who also happens to be his ex-wife. Hildy has been on leave since their divorce, and she breezes back into town to tell Walter that she is about to marry a man named Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) and move to Albany. Walter doesn't take this lying down, however, and soon convinces Hildy to write one last story.

Seems that tomorrow is the execution of Earl Williams (John Qualen), a man convicted of murder. The psychologists have determined that he is sane, but Walter thinks the man has been railroaded. He offers Hildy a chance to do a final interview, prove the man insane, and save a life.

Hildy can hardly pass that up, so she begins the interview. Walter, meanwhile, is doing his best to sabotage things so she will miss her train to Albany. Will Earl be spared from the noose? Will Hildy leave town?

I've got to admit to have a weird feeling at times as I was watching the film. I know I have never seen this movie before, but many of the scenes seemed familiar. I'm talking dialog, actors, camera angles, everything. I'm willing to bet I've seen those scenes in specials and documentaries over the years. Enough was new that I know I hadn't seen it before.

The movie starts well enough. We pretty much jump right into the story, learning about our characters as we go. As the movie progresses, we get some pretty wild situations that are certainly funny.

In a technique not used much in those days, the dialog is often rapid fire, sometimes with the actors talking over themselves. When those scenes come, you do need to really pay attention to follow everything happening. The movie knows when it needs those scenes and when it needs to pull back and allow the characters quiet times to truly develop.

I've got to give the actors credit, they handled the entire material very well. They might not have been used to the insane pace and overlap of the movie, but they don't show it. And they switch from frantic paced to slower with ease.

Since this movie is from 1940, it comes as no surprise that it was filmed in black and white. After a minute or two, I forgot I wasn't watching a modern, color movie.

This is equal parts romantic comedy and political/newspaper story. And it's the romantic comedy part where I had problems with the movie. For starters, I didn't like Walter at all. The guy is a jerk, and Hildy could have done so much better. Both the romance and the murder stories are predictable at times, proving that formula was used just as much back then as it is now. But what really bothered me was the ending of the romantic story. It felt forced and way too abrupt for my tastes.

The movie is based on a play and an earlier movie (remakes are nothing new either) called The Front Page. In that version, Hildy is a man, so it obviously leaves out the romantic plot. Frankly, I think that explains a lot of my problems with the romance here. It feels forced into the story most of the time. If they wanted to include it here, they needed to incorporate it better during the script stage.

His Girl Friday is a good movie up until the last few minutes. If you feel the need to watch this classic, you won't be completely disappointed. But to truly be a classic, it needs to be better developed all along.
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on 31 December 2015
Nothing wrong with the film, it's great, but the quality of this DVD was atrocious. I don't know anything about the distributors 'Elstree Hill Entertainment' but they shouldn't be allowed near a classic film. It looked like a badly pirated version shot from a screen - out of focus, muzzy sound and it was not possible to view the full frame no matter what screen ratio was set on the TV. Do not buy this version.
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on 1 March 2016
Watched on Amazon Prime Video

Movie: 5/5
Video/ Audio quality: 5/5
1 star off since subtitles are not available (i can only confirm this for the Amazon Prime Video streaming version)
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on 2 February 2015
Fast, witty, sharp and wonderfully cynical. The stream of one liners is so rapid you're bound to miss some of them on one viewing -and Cary Grant even refers to a character called Archie Leach at one point. People talk over each other, as they do in real life , but rarely on stage or screen.A truly extraordinary film which rewards close concentrating on it.
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on 31 August 2009
In my search to buy a DVD of this film, I noticed that the same reviews appear on ALL the DVD's offered that have been made! So, you can not tell from these reviews.
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on 27 October 2001
OK, I feel compelled to write a review because the average star rating has been brought down by a review for the DVD edition appearing.
I think this film is just great - Grant is slick, smooth and very funny; whilst Russel is a warm yet strong heroine with good comic timing. This film goes by so quickly you have to watch it several times to get all the one-liners that are thrown at you in rapid succession. Fantastic!!!
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on 31 May 2015
Great film... but this DVD is terrible quality. The image is blurry and degraded. The sound is poor. No matter how you change the playback aspect ratio the image is reduced. Avoid and buy another version!
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on 7 March 2004
I wanted to give this edition of HGF zero stars, but 1 seems to be the minimum.
This is the worst DVD I ever bought. No extras, no subtitles, no scene selection, no nothing. And on top of that, the image quality is horrible. I couldn't watch it for more than just a few minutes.
Just stay away from this edition.
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on 18 April 2003
A real gem of a movie. Russel is terrific, but Grant steals the show. His devil may care attitude and the fantastic billy whizz script make his girl friday an all time classic. Buy it!
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on 22 February 2011
From a technical point of view The Elstree Hill edition is a disaster.Avoid at any cost!
Not being much of a masochist I left it at that.
I then purchased The Columbia Classics edition which proved to be the opposite.
Recommended!
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