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His Girl Friday (1940)

tomatometer

98

Average Rating: 8.9/10
Reviews Counted: 40
Fresh: 39 | Rotten: 1

Anchored by stellar performances from Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, His Girl Friday is a classic screwball romantic comedy.

100

Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 0

Anchored by stellar performances from Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, His Girl Friday is a classic screwball romantic comedy.

audience

90

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 23,271

My Rating

Movie Info

The second screen version of the Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur play The Front Page, His Girl Friday changed hard-driving newspaper reporter Hildy Johnson from a man to a woman, transforming the story into a scintillating battle of the sexes. Rosalind Russell plays Hildy, about to foresake journalism for marriage to cloddish Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy). Cary Grant plays Walter Burns, Hildy's editor and ex-husband, who feigns happiness about her impending marriage as a ploy to win her back. The

PG,

Drama, Classics, Comedy

Charles Lederer

Dec 28, 2004

Columbia Pictures

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All Critics (40) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (39) | Rotten (1) | DVD (20)

One is tempted to throw away any semblance of persuasion and simply demand that you go see this movie.

December 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie bears reviewing because there's always something new in the confetti of one-liners, while its depiction of the Fourth Estate remains relevant.

December 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Cary Grant's performance is truly virtuoso -- stunning technique applied to the most challenging material.

April 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Casting is excellent, with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in the top roles.

April 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Perhaps the funniest, certainly the fastest talkie comedy ever made.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It takes you by the scruff of the neck in the first reel and it shakes you madly, bellowing hoarsely the. while, for the remaining six or seven. Before it's over you don't know whether you have been laughing or having your ears boxed.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a miraculous balancing act from Hawks, who keeps death-row drama bleeding under the movie's screwball skin to give this frantic battle of the sexes a fiendishly dark sophistication.

February 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Clever, witty and extremely satisfying, this marvellous film is still achingly funny today.

February 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Sassy, screwball classic with a feminist twist.

December 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

Have the movies ever talked this quickly, before or since?

October 13, 2010 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm
LarsenOnFilm

The ultimate lesson of His Girl Friday--that it's tougher to manage a marriage than a newspaper--looks in 2008 like pure nostalgia.

September 1, 2009 Full Review Source: minnpost.com
minnpost.com

As close to perfection as you could possibly hope for, His Girl Friday is a delirious joy.

April 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

It's exactly the type of craziness that good newspapers thrive on. Stop the presses.

April 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

One of the best screwball comedies, a remake that improves on the source material due to Hawks brilliant idea of changing the protag's gender thus turning it into a romantic "newspaper" film; Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, and Ralph Bellamy at their best

January 29, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

O ritmo frenético com que os excelentes diálogos são trocados (algo inovador para a época) e o timing cômico impecável de Grant e Russell garantem a permanência deste filme na lista de clássicos inquestionáveis.

May 11, 2006
Cinema em Cena

A double espresso is needed to keep up with the rapid-fire exchanges of Hawks' no-holds-barred muckraking comedy.

February 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Film-Forward.com
Film-Forward.com

I've tried to love His Girl Friday, really I have.

February 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide | Comments (8)
Decent Films Guide

It's the energy of "His Girl Friday" that grabs you, its heated lines of dialogue that leave you satisfied and spent.

November 18, 2005 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

They really don't make them like this anymore.

September 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs
Three Movie Buffs

Cary Grant as the ruthless fast-talking sharpie newspaper editor gives one of his finest performances.

August 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comments (2)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

brilliant

September 19, 2004
Shadows on the Wall

Audience Reviews for His Girl Friday

Was told it's a classic...and, yeah, I guess I can see why. However, I do think this one is quite overrated.

Or maybe I'm just not a massive fan of screwball comedies? Who knows?

I did like this though, but I don't think it's a full on masterpiece or anything.

Directed by the diverse Howard Hawks, this is a rapid-fire comedy about a feisty newspaper reporter who wants to leave her job to get married. Her boss, and ex-lover however, wants her back, and, to do so, he baits her with a news story she just can't resist.

And plot wise, that's pretty much it. In the original play, the lady was a man, so, by changing the gender, the film adds elements of sexual tension, gender politics, and that kind of subtext, which, yeah, I'll give it a lot of credit for that, especially since this film is 73 years old.

I think that's the key thing here. This was a seminal film, but it's not quite as groundbreaking as it once was. It doesn't have the edge it used to, but I can still admire it for it being so potent at one time.

What really holds up though is the rapid fire dialogue. Now I really know where the Coens got their inspiration for fast talking characters, and where Altman was perhaps inspired in the overlapping dialogue department. And The Social Network. That one had some lightning quick lines, but this one might be the king of all that.

And it is really good writing, too. This is a pretty witty and funny film, but modern audiences unfortunately may not get super into it if they're used to blue humor. It's quite clean here, though there is that undercurrent of sexual tension and subtlety.

The broad basic plot is kinda ho hum (I thought), but still enjoyable, if only for the sharp characters, and the even sharper performances. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell are great here, and they seem to have a blast going toe to toe with one another.

Besides the snappy dialogue, the film is also known for it's editing, and yeah, it's some pretty snazzy, influential stuff. The film is well shot, and put together in an even better fashion.

So, bottom line: it's a classic, sure, but an overrated one. I dug it, but can say that I would have loved this even more if I was a bigger fan of this kind of thing, and especially had I seen this maybe a few years ago.
August 28, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Fast-paced screwball of a romantic comedy (and widely considered the first ever) elicits more laughs than many comedies today. The best part about HIS GIRL FRIDAY is that not only does it try for humor, it succeeds at almost every try. Look back at today's romantic comedies: it's more often than not that one of them fails at much of its humor. In fact, this film makes modern rom-coms look downright dreadful.

Full Review: http://wp.me/p1Urcx-y8
December 18, 2011
spielberg00

Super Reviewer

Snappy dialogue and a quick-witted script highlight this film from 1940. Based on a play called "The Front Page", director Howard Hawks' "His Girl Friday" takes a comedically serious look at the sleezy world of yellow journalism. Star reporter Hildy (Rosalind Russell) is quitting the newspaper business to go lead a respectable life as the wife of insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy). However, her former boss (and ex-husband) Walter would rather she forget all this respectability business and come back to work for him (and also marry him again). The story he hopes will bring her back is the execution of cop murderer Earl Williams (John Qualen). Walter is fighting to get a pardon for Williams, who killed a "colored" cop and the mayor is only trying to get him executed because of the election coming up (because the colored vote is very strong in that town). Apparently, Williams was driven "crazy" because of all the hard times poor people must face, and when a gun was placed in his hand, he was compelled to use it. I guess all this is logical by 1930s standards, but many of these plot details had me cringing. There's a strange amoral morality at work with these characters. They do horrible things to innocent people to get what they want, but I suppose since they're the heroes of the film, we're supposed to root for them. The story is good however, I wonder if it might've been a better drama than screwball comedy.
August 16, 2011
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

And you thought the Social Network was fast. Full review later.
July 31, 2011
TomBowler
Thomas Bowler

Super Reviewer

    1. Walter Burns: There's been a light burning in the window for you!
    2. Hildy Johnson: I jumped out that window a long time ago, Walter.
    – Submitted by Ron G (17 months ago)
    1. Walter Burns: Take Hitler and stick him on the funny page.
    – Submitted by Ben O (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Foreign Titles

  • Sein Mädchen für besondere Fälle (DE)
  • His Girl Friday (1940) (CA)
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