Favorite things about… His Girl Friday (1940)

The favorite film:
His Girl Friday, a 1940 screwball comedy directed by Howard Hawks for Columbia Pictures

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

The synopsis:
Walter Burns is a newspaper man, the editor of one of Chicago’s most important papers. His star reporter and former wife Hildy Johnson has decided to quit the business to marry an insurance salesman named Bruce. But Walter isn’t willing to let Hildy go without a fight! Scheming to win Hildy back both romantically and professionally, he assigns her one last story about cop corruption and murder.

The cast:

  • Cary Grant as Walter Burns
  • Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson
  • Ralph Bellamy as Bruce Baldwin
  • Gene Lockhart as Sheriff Hartwell
  • Porter Hall as Murphy
  • Ernest Treux as Roy Bensinger
  • Cliff Edwards as Endicott
(Image via Doctor Macro)
(Image via Doctor Macro)

Fun facts:

  • The famous quip “He looks like that fellow in the movies — Ralph Bellamy!,” uttered by Walter, was nearly cut from the film. Harry Cohn didn’t like it! Howard Hawks kept it in, though, and it has since become one of the film’s most famous pieces of dialogue.
  • In addition to the Bellamy reference, Cary Grant’s birth name of Archie Leach is also mentioned in the film, with Walter stating “Listen, the last man that said that to me was Archie Leach just a week before he cut his throat.”
  • Based on the play “The Front Page”
  • Howard Hawks allowed his actors to ad-lib, and since Roz Russell felt Cary Grant had all of the film’s best lines, she hired a writer to help her come up with new jokes to toss out “spontaneously.”
  • The part of Hildy was originally played by a man in the stage production, and Howard Hawks originally planned to cast a man. The gender change in the film (and slight plot alterations, to add romance) were approved by playwright Ben Hecht.
  • Jean Arthur, Carole Lombard, Ginger Rogers, Claudette Colbert, Katherine Hepburn, Joan Crawford and Irene Dunne were all reportedly considered for the role of Hildy once Hawks decided to cast a woman in the role.
  • Gunga Din, also starring Cary Grant and also based on a story by Hecht, follows a very similar plot to the original play “The Front Page” — a man is trying to leave his job in order to wed, and another man tries to stop him.

Favorite things/quotes:

  • “It all happened in the ‘dark ages’ of the newspaper game — when to a reporter ‘getting that story’ justified anything short of murder.”
  • Rosalind Russell’s super-stripey outfit when she visits the newsroom
  • Walter: “There’s been a lamp burning in the window for ya, honey. Here.”
    Hildy: “Oh, I jumped out that window a long time ago.”
  • Walter: “We’ve got something between us nothing can change.”
  • Walter: “Well, I meant to let you go Hildy, but you know how it is. You never miss the water ’til the well runs dry!”
  • Walter: “If we find we can’t get along in a friendly fashion, we’ll get married again!”
  • All of the banter between Walter and Hildy is so great
  • Walter trying desperately to get Hildy to start writing for the paper again
  • Walter mistaking the older man for Bruce
  • Walter talking condescendingly to Bruce about his rain gear
  • Walter: “You’re getting something else, too, Bruce. You’re getting a great newspaper man!”
  • Walter fake crying when talking about how Hildy will react when he dies — and tapping Bruce on the shoulder to make sure that he sees those fake tears
  • Reporter referring to the gallows that can be seen out of the newsroom’s window: “They’re fixin’ up a pain in the neck for your boyfriend.”
  • Hildy saying she’s quitting the paper so she can live like a human being
  • Hildy: “Now get this, you double-crossing chimpanzee…”
  • Hildy’s snarky mannerisms and superior rant-delivering skills
  • “You’ll never find me now!” *jumps out of window* (This scene never fails to shock me every time I see it. So out of place in a screwball comedy.)
  • Hildy: “I’m looking at you, you murderer!”
  • Hildy and Walter making frantic, shout-y phone calls from the newsroom
(Image via Doctor Macro)
(Image via Doctor Macro)

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