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Film Review: His Girl Friday (1940)

This fantastic comedy from 1940 is filled with brilliant, clever dialogue and outstanding performances. Based on the stage play The Front Page (written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur), His Girl Friday was actually the second cinematic adaption of this story (the first being the 1931 film also titled The Front Page). Director Howard Hawks made an excellent choice in changing the lead role of Hildy to a female character instead of male, as originally written. This decision not only allowed Rosalind Russell the opportunity to give a career-best performance, but set the foundation for this version to take a romantic turn by allowing our two leads (Russell and Cary Grant) to fall back in love (they were once married). It also gives us one of the earliest film depictions of a woman with a successful career. Russel's character is a force to be reckoned with, as she goes toe-to-toe with every male colleague in her no-holds-barred approach in a competitive newsroom. Filled with not-so-subtle jabs at the ethics and morals (or lack of) that the world of journalism is scrutinized for (still relevant today), this comedy has much more to say than most films of the era. The rapid fire dialogue is spoken at whiplash speed, so only a careful listener will catch the many thought provoking statements, especially since so many of them are not directly spoken. Truly one of the funniest films ever made, Russell and Grant shine in their roles. Intensely physical, the comedy here is at master level and both stars deliver some of their best work. There is an intoxicating quality to this film, mesmerizing audiences with the high energy of every moment on screen, matched with perfectly choreographed staging (it makes you wonder how much rehearsal went into every scene). This is a film that has stood the test of time, still revered by audiences and actors alike. It's influence is apparent in most American sitcoms and even classic television shows such as Gilmore Girls (this movie is referenced in episodes of it supporting my theory that show creator Any Sherman-Palladino found it inspiring). His Girl Friday is often referred to as the quintessential classic comedy. Watching it you will certainly agree with its earned legacy in the world of cinema. 

David-Matthew Barnes

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

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