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Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell star in this comedy.  Grant is Walter Burns, a successful newspaper editor, and Russell is Hildy Johnson, his ex-wife, and a former reporter at his newspaper.  When Hildy comes to see Walter to tell him that she is getting remarried (to Bruce Baldwin, played by Ralph Bellamy), and that she is getting out of the newspaper business, Walter is determined to try and win her back.  By persuading Hildy to cover one last big news story – about a man who is sentenced to be hanged the following day –  he is convinced that he can win back his wife and reporter…

It’s fair to say that this film was not what I expected, although for the most part, I did find it enjoyable.  I was expecting a screwball comedy along the lines of My Favourite Wife, or The Awful Truth (two Cary Grant movies which I enjoyed very much).  His Girl Friday is not in the screwball genre, although it does start out that way.  There are some pretty dark themes – an attempted suicide, corrupt politicians, a man who may or may not be in his right mind being sentenced to hang…when such themes were juxtaposed with some great comedic moments from Grant and Russell, it seemed almost as if the film wasn’t sure what it wanted to be.

On the plus side – Cary Grant starred with certain actresses a number of times; Irene Dunne, Myrna Loy, Katharine Hepburn for instance.  This was the only time he starred in such a film with Rosalind Russell (and she wasn’t even first choice for the part).  That’s a shame, because they have good chemistry, and Russell was very very VERY good, and I definitely want to watch more films of hers.  This was also one of the first films to feature characters deliberately talking over each other (echoing the fast paced world of journalism in which they work), which is probably worth mentioning because nowadays, it’s not a new thing at all, but it certainly was something different when His Girl Friday came out.

So overall, I’d say that this film is worth watching for some great moments of comedy, even if it is not the laughfest that you might expect (or that I expected anyway)!  Grant and especially Russell were great in their parts, and the whole thing is very fast paced and snappy.

Year of release: 1940

Director: Howard Hawks

Producer: Howard Hawks

Writers: Ben Hecht (play ‘The Front Page’), Charles MacArthur (play ‘The Front Page’), Charles Lederer

Main cast: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart, Clarence Kolb, Abner Biberman, John Qualen

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