His Girl Friday (1940) – Howard Hawks

The next big title in DK Canada’s The Movie Book, is the incredibly enjoyable Howard Hawks film, His Girl Friday starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.

The film is based on the play The Front Page, with the key change of making one of the leads a woman. From there, history takes over, and the film has become an enduring classic.

Grant plays newspaper editor Walter Burns, while Rosalind is cast as his ex-wife, and ex-ace reporter Hildy Johnson. She’s arrived in the busy newspaper office to inform Walter that she is leaving to get married, her new beau, Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), an insurance salesman, is waiting outside his office.

Walter wants nothing to do with Bruce, and is only intent on reeling Hildy back into his arms and into the paper, and he has the perfect story to do it. He wants her to cover the upcoming execution of Earl Williams (John Qualen) who has been convicted of murder.

While Walter schemes, and sets up Bruce, a multitude of times, Hildy starts digging into the murder, just as Williams stages a jailbreak!

The movie whips along with Hawks’ signature style of rapid-fire, overlapping dialogue, and wonderful moments. It’s alternately brilliantly funny, and a political thriller as Hildy and Walter dig up the truth behind Williams’ conviction.

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday, 1940

By today’s standards a number of things that Walter does are troubling, in fact, I’m sure they were fairly bothersome at the time, but Grant does it with such panache and charm, that it’s hard to feel bad for him. In fact, most of the time you find yourself cheering for Walter to get Hildy back.

And honestly, she’s the only one that can keep pace with him, and hold him accountable.

There’s a lot of fun to be had in this film, and the speed with which the story rockets along, all the viewer can do is settle in, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

I was under the impression that this film was nothing more than a romantic comedy, so despite knowing that Hawks directed it, and Grant starred, I wasn’t incredibly pumped to see it.

Now having seen it, I was surprised by the story, the antics, and the portrayal of newspapermen and their pursuit of a story. I had so much fun with this film, and laughed, cheered and was shocked by the way the story played out, and I think I’ve got another film that may now be considered a favourite.

And to think, I may never have gotten around to watching this one if it hadn’t been for DK Books’ The Movie Book. As such, I cannot wait to see what film they have coming for me next.


Pick one up today, watch along, or find something incredible to watch for yourself!

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