Saturday, April 30, 2011

Classic Movie Marathon Day 12: His Girl Friday (1940)

Welcome to day twelve of the Classic Movie Marathon. It's finally all over!

His Girl Friday is known as one of the greatest comedies of all time. While it has that reputation to uphold, there is something so magical to me about this film. I love dialogue. Listening to people talk at a million miles an hour is literally music to my ears. Listening to people talk over each other at a million miles an hour, and still being able to hear what is going on, is literally music to my ears. When I found out that His Girl Friday was the first film to ever have people talking over each other at all I loved it even more. To think that this movie was the one to pioneer the beauty of people talking with such character, I couldn't think of such a better way to start that trend. Because His Girl Friday is a masterpiece of a completely dialogue-made film, and yes, it is one of the funniest movies ever.

The jealous ex. It's always a downfall of leaving someone to be happy with someone else. Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) probably didn't think that her ex-husband Walter Burns (Cary Grant) would be causing a lot of trouble for her upcoming marriage to insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy). However, Walter isn't going to give up his wife, or his ace news reporter, without a fight. When a thrilling new story arises, Walter ensures that Hildy stays within his reach to write the story. How does he do that? By having Bruce arrested for a lot of crimes he never commit, over and over again, and drawing Hildy in by this once in a lifetime story.

I'm sure His Girl Friday originally had a fantastic screenplay, as it is so filled with all the cracking dialogue in the world. But I'm sure 75% of it's comedic moments come from the improvisation of it's stars. Another interesting fact about this film is the fact that Rosalind Russell thought that Cary Grant was getting all the good lines, so she decided to hire a writer to give her some better lines. Director Howard Hawks was impartial to ad-libbing, so he didn't notice when she had all these brilliant lines that weren't really a result of the original script. Cary Grant, however, with all his excellent lines, did a lot of ad-libbing which seemed to work in the funny favour. One of my favourite lines, and possibly one of the best known lines from the movie, is "He looks like that fellow in the movies, you know...Ralph Bellamy!" Which, of course, is ironic, because he really is Ralph Bellamy. Small things may amuse small minds, but that is a tiny moment of movie genius.

My whole experience of the movie was somewhat let down by the crappy quality of the DVD I own ($3.50 from the's never to be trusted), but even with the ever-changing volume and the hazy picture, I still fell in love with the movie. It has very few sets, making for that stagy sort of feel which I love. And the story isn't too bad, nor even remotely as cheesy as it sounds. It's just a really fun movie, moving at a million miles an hour. As long as the movie keeps going at a really fast pace, the movie is at it's utmost best. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell have such a great dynamic in the way they do things at the same time, whether it be battling over phone conversations or working hard to keep their job going. That is, essentially, what this movie is about. Doing two or more things at once and still having the decency to be brilliant.

What I got:


  1. I am almost certain that I have seen this before, but do not recall it. I love Cary Grant, and I just recorded on my television North by Northwest, one of few Alfred Hitchcock films I have not seen. And another great review!

  2. It's a fantastic film, one of the wittiest to ever reach the big screen. Cary Grant might be my favorite actor of all time and this role is one of his finest. It's a thrill from beginning to end.

  3. Matt - North by Northwest is a wonderful film! And Cary Grant is amazing. Thanks!

    James - I totally agree with you, it's such a great film!

  4. Awesome review!
    And awesome movie. I saw it about two month ago and utterly enjoyed it.

  5. It is such an enjoyable and awesome movie! Thanks!


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