HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940) B/W 92m dir: Howard Hawks
w/Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Helen Mack, Gene Lockhart, Porter Hall, Ernest Truex, Cliff Edwards, Clarence Kolb, Roscoe Karns
A truly screwball comedy, this is the second film version of the hit play, The Front Page (by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, which was made into a terrific 1931 film), about the Chicago newspaper world and the city-room gang that inhabits it. Director Hawks took the character of Hildy Johnson and transformed him into a woman (Russell), and that made all the difference to this old chestnut of a story. (As a representative of the typical Hawksian woman, Hildy Johnson is professionally competent and a match for any man.) Hawks developed a technique of overlapping the dialogue, with throwaway syllables in front and back, so that the audience can hear every word that counts, and the impression is of even faster delivery of the lines. Grant's brilliance as a physical actor has never been so put to the test, and Russell is more than his equal. They make a terrific team.
From Magill Surveys: Great Cinema Directors : "The directorial style of His Girl Friday is as straightforward as Hawks's dialogue. His direct cuts and lack of montage keep the film from being dated and keep extraneous movement to a minimum. Time dances frantically by; the comedy is copious and varied; the gags are rapid-fire. The sarcastic banter between Hildy [Russell] and Burns [Grant] is the soul of the film, and this is clever repartee that captures the audience. Representative of Hawks's comedy at its best, His Girl Friday is a treat not to be missed if the opportunity arises."