Hiya, Hildy. This is about a newspaper editor (Cary Grant), and his ex-wife reporter (Rosalind Russell). When the news is broke to him that she plans on remarrying tomorrow, he uses a local hanging as a stalling tactic to keep her in town as long as possible. Vintage classic movies are a bit of a blind spot for me; I spend so much of my time focusing on staying on top of the high volume influx of new movies (people primarily want to know if they should trek out to a theater to shell out hard-earned money or not). Some of the more renowned movies from yesteryear fall by the wayside or get put on the back burner. With my quest through the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, it gives me an excuse to watch some of the golden oldies, like this one here.
This photo actually does a pretty good job of summarizing the plot of the film.
I’ve always had a fondness of Cary Grant because he makes films that succeed largely due to his overflowing charisma. He’s made two of my very favorites in Charade and North by Northwest, and given my modest familiarity with the classics, when I’m watching something out of his library, I get to experience the majority of his works for the first time. He is what elevates His Girl Friday, or more specifically, the chemistry that he shares with Rosalind Russell is what makes the movie sparkle. You’re never wholly sure if you’re rooting for them to be together, because they keep trying to make plays on one another for their own personal benefit, but when they are on screen together, you’re eager to hear the next line of rapid fire comedy to come out of their mouth.
Going in, you should know that is pure screwball comedy. The jokes come in fast and furious, and it takes a bit of time to adjust. I can’t speak for everyone, but the modern movie has molded my brain on how to review jokes and pacing. I need a moment, albeit a brief one, to allow my mind to process a gag so as to fully realize what I just witnessed. This does not give you that moment, you either keep up or miss the joke, those are your only two options. Once I adjusted, I was able to get on board, but it did take a short while. Also, when the story kicked into gear and things started to get serious, I found myself wanting it to get back to the simple romance triangle; the beginning to this is so good, from the office scene all the way up to the restaurant scene, and I wanted more of that. I suppose that wouldn’t have made for much of a story, though, so c’est la vie.
His Girl Friday (1940) ***1/2
– Critic for Hire