HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940) 

[Get the Poster]

Cary Grant
Rosalind Russell
Ralph Bellamy
Gene Lockhart
Porter Hall
Ernest Truex
Cliff Edwards
John Qualen
Helen Mack

Howard Hawks



Time: 92 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Screwball Comedy/Romance

Being a big fan of Cary Grant, I've seen many of his films, but HIS GIRL FRIDAY is definitely one of my favorites. Grant, who never won much recognition in the way of awards, is an amazing comic actor and physical comedian while still being extremely sexy. HIS GIRL FRIDAY is one of his better roles, pitting him against Rosalind Russell in the screwball comedy to end all screwball comedies. The dialogue is not only witty, intelligent and sarcastic it fairly crackles off the screen. The banter between Grant and Russell also manages to be intimate and sweet even when they're putting each other down. From the minute they begin sharing the screen together, they put on a show of verbal gymnastics at a level rarely reached before or since. The speed alone is apt to make your head spin, not to mention the laughs. The story has been done many times before and since. Taken from the play, THE FRONT PAGE, the basics are the same, except that in this version Hildy Johnson is a woman about to get married, not a man. In this case, a wonderful change of pace.

A first-rate journalist, her newspaper editor, Walter Burns (Grant) wants her to stick around, but not for the good of the paper. This is a romantic comedy and the story is slightly altered to make sure that love prevails. In fact, Hildy and Walter used to be married, but she thought that he cared more for the paper than their relationship. She was right and even though she loves the hunt, digging up an exclusive story, she values her private life even more. When she tells Walter as much at the beginning of the film, he makes fun of her, believing she could never give up reporting. That is until he finds out that she's found someone else to provide her with a normal and happy home. She's engaged to one Bruce Baldwin (Bellamy), an insurance salesman, and moving to Albany.

Walter can't believe his ears. Not only is Hildy turning her back on a brilliant career, but the only man who truly loves her. Even though they're no longer together, Walter can't imagine a life without Hildy and does everything in his power to make sure she stays right where she is – at the paper working with him. From the moment Bruce enters the film it's abundantly clear that he's way out of his league. In fact, he's not even aware he's playing a game. Walter toys with him like a cat does a mouse, with a bit of playfulness, but all claws. Hildy sees right through Walter's charade – he tries to keep her in town by dangling the story of her career in front of her nose – however, in the end, she can't resist...the excitement of her job or her ex-husband. HIS GIRL FRIDAY sparkles with cleverness and sexual tension. Grant and Russell are perfectly matched, wonderful comedic actors making the most of great material. Hildy may have been working in a man's world, but she's all woman and it's not until another man wants her that Walter actually notices.

Russell is a force to be reckoned with as Hildy, a perfect package of beauty and cynicism. It's hard to be strong and intelligent while still keeping your femininity. Grant is his brilliant comic self. His love, admiration and desperation are worn on his sleeve. He makes a fool of himself for Hildy, the mark of a man truly in love, while never losing his innate dignity. Bellamy is great as the clueless, yet lovable Bruce, a man who falls in love with a woman who couldn't be more wrong for him. HIS GIRL FRIDAY is practically a laugh a minute. I find a new joke every time I watch it. If you want to see what's meant by the phrase "screwball comedy" you won't find a better one. Though it's over sixty years old, it's still one of the best films ever made. It has it's slow moments, mainly towards the end while dealing with the news story, but that's OK. You'll need them to catch your breath.

"Walter, you're wonderful, in a loathsome sort of way."

home | reviews | actors | actresses | film heaven | all reviews