THE FRONT PAGE (1931) B/W 101m dir: Lewis Milestone
w/Adolphe Menjou, Pat O'Brien, Mary Brian, Edward Everett Horton, Walter Catlett, George E. Stone, Mae Clarke, Slim Summerville, Matt Moore, Frank McHugh
From The Movie Guide: "A vigorous, manic drama, this Lewis Milestone classic about newspapers and newsmen wonderfully preserves a host of Depression-era attitudes and a glorious headline era.
"O'Brien, in his film debut, is the fast-talking Hildy Johnson, sensation hunting star of the Chicago press. His shifty editor Walter Burns (Menjou) is trying to prevent his star reporter from quitting the business and moving to a New York advertising job with his wife-to-be Peggy (Brian). She hates everything about the sleazy tabloid world that has made Hildy famous, and she pressures him to finish his last day's work so they can flee to New York. In his farewell visit to the press room, however, Hildy gets caught up in the escape of an anarchist (Stone) scheduled for execution.
"THE FRONT PAGE is an excellent production with a superior performance from novice O'Brien in a role better than many he later got to play. Menjou is marvelous too as a wily and sophisticated rascal, with a brilliant flair for dialogue. [Producer] Howard Hughes let Milestone have his creative way with the film, and it shows in the film's no-holds-barred action and witty repartee. Hughes did make two decisions regarding the film, though, vetoing Milestone's first two choices for O'Brien's role: James Cagney and Clark Gable.
"All of the character actors shine in the reporter roles, from the cynical Calett and McHugh to the fussy, hygiene-obsessed Horton, who believes himself to be a poet. The play's lines were kept almost intact, with all the wild newspaper argot, glib quips and slurs delivered rapid fire by the actors."
This is the first film version of the play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. It was also filmed in 1940 by Howard Hawks as the fabulously funny HIS GIRL FRIDAY (with the reporter transformed into Rosalind Russell!) and again in 1974 under the original title with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau (surprisingly disappointing, considering the talents of the cast and director Billy Wilder).
THE FRONT PAGE was nominated for Oscars for Best Picture, Director, and Actor (Menjou).