Over the weekend I watched Howard Hawk’s His Girl Friday. The movie stars Carey Grant as Walter Burns, Ralph Bellamy as Bruce Baldwin and Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson. This is one of the most screwball comedies films I have ever seen. One of the most notable aspects of this movie is the rapid fire speaking. You have to be really good to speak that fast without messing up. His Girl Friday is based on a play title The Front Page.
Carey Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy in His Girl Friday promotional photo.
In His Girl Friday Walter Burns and Hildy Johnson were once married. Walter is the editor of The Morning Post and Walter takes his job very seriously. Maybe a little too seriously. While he was married to Hildy, Walter was not the best husband. All Hildy wanted was for them to settle down and have a family, but Walter was too busy being a hard-nosed news editor. Hildy divorced Walter but he was not a willing participant in the divorce.
After the divorce, Hildy informs Walter that she is getting married again to an insurance salesman. This news throws Walter into a tailspin because he is still in love with Hildy and wants her back.
Walter takes Hildy and her fiance Bruce Baldwin to lunch pretending to be celebrating their upcoming marriage. In reality Walter is plotting to break them up.
Walter will do anything to break up Hildy and Bruce, including having Bruce arrested multiple times on trumped-up charges and kidnapping Bruce’s mother. Carey Grant is hilarious and really good at comedy. Walter also gets Hildy involved in one more serious news story about a man named Earl Williams who is convicted of killing a black police officer. Also, the mayor is crooked and wants to see Earl Williams executed so that he can pick up votes in the next election, but Earl Williams is really no murderer.
Rosalind Russell and Carey Grant are really great together. Howard Hawk’s first choice to play Hildy Johnson was Carole Lombard, but she came with a huge price tag. Other actresses who were offered the role of Hildy were Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Claudette Colbert and Margaret Sullivan but they all turned it down. In the original story Hildy Johnson is a man, but Howard Hawk’s decided to make Hildy a woman and ex-wife to Walter Burns.
I also love the clothing. Everyone in the cast wore excellently tailored clothes. That was the norm during those days and it is something that has definitely been lost. Costume design was by Robert Kalloch.
The ending of this movie is quite predictable but very entertaining getting there.
I streamed this movie on Netflix.