Classic Comedies, Favorite of the Month - December 2017, Julie's Film and Book Reviews

Review of comedy His Girl Friday (1940)

His Girl Friday

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell star in the screwball comedy, His Girl Friday. This fast paced and witty film sees Cary Grant play newspaperman Walter Burns, and Rosalind Russell as his ex-wife Hildy Johnson who shows that she can work just as hard as the rest of the guys. And she won’t stay his ex-wife for long if he has anything to do with it!

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FILM INFO

His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday was directed by Howard Hawks, who also directed Bringing Up Baby (1938), Ball of Fire (1941) and Monkey Business (1952).

Also starring in His Girl Friday: Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart, Porter Hall, Ernest Truex, Cliff Edwards, Clarence Kolb, Roscoe Karns, Frank Jenks, Regis Toomey, Abner Biberman, Frank Orth, John Qualen, Helen Mack.

His Girl Friday won its place in the National Film Registry in 1993.

During one of the films scenes, Cary Grant refers to a man he knew called Archie Leach. Archie Leach was Cary Grant’s real name.

His Girl Friday was completed a week behind its original deadline.

The film is a very fast paced comedy with regards to the dialogue, and the reason for the film falling behind by a week was due to the complications of making this all work.

Many actresses turned down the role of Hildy which eventually went to Rosalind Russell. The list includes Jean Arthur, Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert, Carole LombardMargaret Sullavan and Ginger Rogers.

SYNOPSIS

His Girl Friday

Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) believes that a short visit to the old newspaper offices which her ex-husband runs and where she used to work will be fairly straight forward. But the ex-husband in question Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is still in love with Hildy and after talking to her he has the wind blown out of his sails when she announces to him that she intends to be re-married to someone else the very next day.

His Girl Friday

Walter is eager to meet Hildy’s fiancée Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), and insists on taking the two of them to lunch before they take the train back to Albany. Walter however has a trick up his sleeve and whilst out to lunch tells Hildy about Earl Williams (John Qualen) who is due to be hanged tomorrow. The newspaper is on Earl’s side and Walter tries to convince Hildy to remain behind just two hours so she can interview the man in question and write an article supporting him and their objection to his being hanged.

His Girl Friday

Bruce agrees to this and soon enough Hildy is drawn back into the fast paced life of newspaper reporting. She does try to get out of it when she realises that Walter is trying all manner of tricks on Hildy by getting Bruce arrested for crimes he hasn’t committed. But Hildy cannot bring herself to leave what she has committed herself to.

His Girl Friday

Matters are made even more complicated when Williams escapes jail and makes his way through the window of the office where Hildy has been working. Hildy and Walter hide the escaped convict in a desk whilst they try and make the story which in Walter’s mind will make Hildy famous. All the while Bruce is beginning to have suspicions that Hildy never wanted to marry him in the first place!

His Girl Friday

VIDEOS

FINAL WORDS

His Girl Friday

This is the second time I have watched His Girl Friday and what I remember most is the chemistry between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, and how clever the dialogue is in the film. It must have been so difficult to have every character speaking their lines over one another in such a way which made the film work, and this just adds to the hilarity of it all, it’s no wonder the film fell behind schedule in order to get it all right.

His Girl Friday is in my opinion one of the best comedies I have seen Cary Grant star in and if you enjoyed Bringing Up Baby you will just love watching him as Walter Burns.

I have still to see Rosalind Russell star in a film where she plays a vulnerable character, for so far I have only seen her star as strong independent women who can hold their own, such as her character Sylvia Fowler in The Women (1939).

If you’re going to view My Girl Friday be prepared to keep up with the dialogue and to have a great laugh!

Photos courtesy of “DoctorMacro

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Julie has an interest in classic Hollywood and regularly reads biographies and watches documentaries on Hollywood stars from the golden age. Julie grew up in Hertfordshire, England. She now lives in South Wales with her boyfriend and their two dogs.

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