Tuesday, June 3, 2008

His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday; Comedy, USA, 1940; D: Howard Hawks, S: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart, Porter Hall

Walter Burns is the editor and owner of 'The Morning Post' newspaper. His ex wife Hildy, who worked for him as a reporter, comes to visit him in his office and announce that she will marry Bruce. But Walter doesn't give up that easy and tries all means possible to prevent the wedding and hire Hildy again. Little by little Hildy warms up for journalism and reveals that the mayor wants to execute a criminal who was granted reprieve, in order to gain publicity and win on the following elections. In the end, Hildy again works for Walter.

"His Girl Friday" is one of the 5 best films directed by Howard Hawks, a banally simple comedy in which characters talk with a speed of 100 miles per hour and fall into wackiest situations without ever loosing their intellectual touch. Actually, this comedy isn't that funny as some say it is, and some even commented it's "faster than the speed of laughter", but it's brilliantly written, a small masterpiece and a real thoroughbred film of old school without vulgarity, swearing, cheap gags or spot montage. From the situation in which Hildy (excellent Rosalind Russell) wants to present her ex husband Walter (also excellent Cary Grant) with her new fiance Bruce, but Walter goes on to jokingly approach an old man and pretend he is the fiance, the story goes into absurd waters: Walter persuades Bruce to tell Hildy to stay and write an article that could save a criminal sentenced to death, or else he will have "blood on his hands during the wedding". A reporter accuses the mayor of being a Communist because he sleeps with red underpants. Walter tries to prevent the wedding by constantly secretly letting Bruce get arrested for every kind of tittle, making the angry Hildy quit her job as the reporter and even announcing she doesn't want to "even see a newspaper again". There are a few flaws here and there, but such simple movies are a real rarity today.


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