Title : His Girl Friday
Main Cast : Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
Genre : Comedy, Drama, Rom/Com, Crime
Having been away for four months, Hildy Johnson walks into the offices of the New York City based The Morning Post, where she is a star reporter, to tell her boss, editor Walter Burns, that she is quitting. The reason for her absence was among other things to get a Reno divorce, from, of all people, Walter, who admits he was a bad husband. Hildy divorced Walter largely because she wanted more of a home life, whereas Walter saw her more as a driven hard-boiled reporter than subservient homemaker. Hildy has also come to tell Walter that she is taking the afternoon train to Albany, where she will be getting married tomorrow to staid straight-laced insurance agent, Bruce Baldwin, with whose mother they will live, at least for the first year. Walter doesn’t want to lose Hildy, either as a reporter or a wife, and if he does, doesn’t believe Bruce is worthy of her. Walter does whatever he can at least to delay Hildy and Bruce’s trip, long enough to persuade Hildy to stay for good. His plan includes doing whatever he can to place Bruce in a bad light, while dangling a big story under her nose, namely covering what the newspaper believes is the unfair imminent execution of convicted cop killer, Earl Williams. Hildy doesn’t trust Walter in dealing with her and Bruce in an above board manner, but the lure of what potentially may become the biggest story in years, which includes true love, a bumbling sheriff and a corrupt mayor, the latter’s actions largely in light of an upcoming election, may prove to be too much for Hildy to resist, especially if it ends up being an exclusive. Regardless of the story outcome, Hildy will have to decide if the thrill of the chase was worth the anguish on her personal life.
His Girl Friday has been one of my favourite movies for years, since I went through a 1940’s binge which included this movie and Gilda, both of which became Top 20 favourites of mine.
His Girl Friday has the skill of Cary Grant, and the 1940’s gemstone of a strong, snarky woman who is able to handle herself, a career and a romance all at once. A true modern woman, who has gumption and immensely epic one-liners. I read once that the role of Hildy was originally created for a man, but while a secretary was reading the lines before casting the director loved the concept so much he immediately change the role for a woman. In my opinion, it was the best decision he could have made. Casting the incredibly talented and stunning Rosalind Russell for Hildy was a piece of genius.
This movie is all snark, one-liners, humour and a riot of fighting for what’s right, the little man being in the middle of a political mess, and a criminal case. If you look at the Trivia on IMDB, you’ll see that this film tracks word-per-minute unlike any other movie of the time. More than twice the rate, in fact. That shows you the skill of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, who had incredible chemistry together and really appeared to feed off each other’s energies, on set. They are whiplash-fast with their lines, and it’s said they were allowed to ad-lib, to make it more authentic.
As well as how brilliant the plot, the casting and the script are, the story is actually a groundbreaker. It was one of the first to allow actors to talk over each other’s lines, to cut each other off and ad-lib to the extent they did. It also showcased the negative side of newspaper reporters, which wasn’t commonly done, though they covered it with a note at the beginning of the movie.
Overall, the entire movie is a masterpiece.