HIS GIRL FRIDAY. 1940. DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY HOWARD HAWKS. STARRING CARY GRANT, ROSALIND RUSSELL, RALPH BELLAMY, GENE LOCKHART, JOHN QUALEN AND ALMA KRUGER. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
I had the tremendous pleasure of seeing this great classic movie on the big screen recently as part of a series of, well, great classic movies being shown free in my area to any interested members of the public. It still looks fresh and full of life despite being a whopping seventy-five years old this year.
The plot is straightforward enough. The action is set in ‘Forties America where everyone wore hats all the time and not just for special occasions, males and females alike. God, I love watching films set in that long-gone era. Here’s the deal, anyway.
The always debonair and handsome Cary Grant plays Walter Burns, the savvy, quick-talking and quick-thinking editor of THE MORNING POST newspaper. He gets the shock of his life one day when his ex-wife and former star reporter, Hildy Johnson, strolls into his office, which as usual is a hive of activity, and informs him that she’s getting married again.
That’s right, Hildy is planning to ditch the cut-throat world of newspaper journalism permanently in favour of marriage to sweet, undoubtedly worthy but sadly kind of dull insurance salesman, Bruce Baldwin. Bruce, played by Ralph Bellamy, hopes to make an honest woman of Hildy and sweep her off to darkest Albany, New York, to iron his shirts and cook his morning waffles, or whatever they ate for breakfast in New York in the ‘Forties.
Walter Burns is determined to sabotage the marriage of his ex-wife to a man he considers bland and, frankly, a big joke, although Bruce is a lovely chap who would make any woman a perfectly adequate husband if she was the kind of woman who would choose stability, safety and security over excitement. Hey, don’t knock it, I’m sure there’s plenty who would…!
We also get the impression that Walter misses Hildy and the fun they used to have and therefore he doesn’t want any other man to have her, though whether he still loves her or he’s just being a dog in the manger we’re not entirely sure at this point.
Walter tries to convince Hildy, played by the strikingly good-looking Rosalind Russell, to stay on at the paper. He uses the upcoming execution of convicted killer Earl Williams as bait, knowing that that’s a big news story by anyone’s standards and that therefore Hildy, being a seasoned reporter, will want to cover it.
Hildy’s not as easily convinced as all that, though. She says that she craves peace and quiet and charming domesticity and that she really does want to leave the newspaper business behind her for good. But then Earl Williams escapes from custody and Hildy finds herself faced with the unmissable opportunity to write the news story of a lifetime…
There’s terrific chemistry between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell as they fire dialogue back and forth at each other at a speed you wouldn’t see at Wimbledon. (Bah-dum, tish…) Yes, if you like your dialogue quickfire, snappy and razor-sharp then you’ll love this film. And if you get a kick out of hearing hard-bitten, hard-boiled newsmen from the ‘Forties chew the fat with each other, then you’ll definitely love this film.
And if you want to know if Hildy marries good old dependable Bruce after all or gets back with unpredictable, rascally Walter Burns whose unscrupulous attempts to have Bruce removed from the picture make for hilarious viewing, then you’ll just have to watch the film. But hurry up about it, will ya? We gotta newspaper to print and a deadline to meet…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: