U.S., 92 min, 1940, Dir. Howard Hawks, Courtesy of archive.org

His Girl Friday

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"A frenetic movie about attraction, ambition, and work that hasn't lost a step. The movie bears reviewing because there's always something new in the confetti of one-liners." – Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice

When editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant) gets the news that ex-wife Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) is forsaking journalism to marry a dull insurance man (Ralph Bellamy) and move to Albany, he is determined to sabotage her plans. Most of what Robert Altman did with overlapping dialogue was done first by Howard Hawks in this 1940 comedy, without the benefit of Dolby stereo. It isn't a matter of speed but of placement - the dialogue almost seems to have levels in space. Hawks' great insight - taking the Hecht-McArthur Front Page and making the Hildy character a woman - has been justly celebrated; it deepens the comedy in remarkable ways. Cary Grant's performance is truly virtuoso - stunning technique applied to the most challenging material. The movie's depiction of the Fourth Estate remains relevant: "Take Hitler and stick him on the funny page! ... Keep the rooster story - that's human interest."

Closed Captions available.

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