Sometimes, the simplest narratives are often times the best. Especially when layered with the perfect comedic sensibility.
In the 1940 movie, His Girl Friday, Walter Burns (Cary Grant) has lost touch with his ex-wife and former employee, Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell). Now she is back in his life and about to re-marry. His plan is to keep Hildy from marrying her fiance, Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) and once more disappearing from his life. Will he succeed?
The movie is based on a 1920’s play, The Front Page by Ben Hecht. When the film was adapted for the screen, the character that Rosalind Russell played was changed from a male character to a female character. This movie is absolutely brilliant for a number of reasons, including the subversive feminist statement of Hildy being a working woman in the early 1940’s.
The best scene is the first scene, it never fails to make me laugh.
This is one of my favorite movies from the 1940’s. It’s pretty typical World War II movie, where the Allies are the heroes and the Nazis are the villains. The two leads, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall have this magnetic, sexual chemistry. It’s no wonder they were married for twelve years. This movie is a perfect example of creating sexual chemistry between characters without resorting to removing of clothes.
Now this is how a rom-com and a office comedy should be. Cary Grant is the editor of a newspaper. Rosalind Russell is his ex wife and ex-employee. She is getting married again and Cary Grant’s character is looking to find a way to keep her on the paper and in his life. If nothing else, just watch the opening scene. An interesting aspect of this movie is that it was based upon a play, in which Rosalind Russell’s character was originally a man and changed to a female, which poses an interesting feminist twist, twenty years before the second wave of the feminist movement.
This movie is perfection. This movie should be required viewing for every filmmaker. Carole Lombard and Jack Benny are the lead performers in Polish theatrical troupe during World War II. They indirectly join the war when they work with a soldier to track down a German spy. Like His Girl Friday, I highly recommend to watch the opening scene if you don’t see the entire movie. The comedy timing is perfect, Lombard is one of the greatest actresses and comedienne’s of her era. The irony of this movie is that Jack Benny (born Benjamin Kubelsky) was Jewish. It takes balls to make a movie of this type during this period with a Jewish leading man. There is also a re-boot, made in the early 1980’s by Mel Brooks. As much as I love the re-boot, which is most certainly a Mel Brooks movie, the original just stands the test of time.