Wednesday, July 14, 2010

His Girl Friday

Howard Hawks, 1940, bw (9.0*)
This remake of the Ben Hecht play The Front Page, also made as a film by Lewis Milestone in 1931, has absolutely classic comedic banter between Cary Grant and ex-wife Rosalind Russell as news reporters on a big homicide case. Apparently fearing she wasn't getting many good lines, Russell hired an outside writer to give her some lines to 'improvise' during the shooting. The result is a rapid fire, news teletype style of back and forth wisecracking that's practially the archetype for this style of comedy, often copied on tv sitcoms but never with this much energy.

The story of a convicted murderer about to be executed and escaping takes a back seat to the subliminal romantic repartee of the two stars - Cary Grant was never better, never this sharp again. It's like the Thin Man series on steroids, or a case of Red Bull to start the newsday. This is my favorite Howard Hawks film, maybe his most classic of all. It certainly had an influence on many other comedies to follow. It may be too energetic and 'relentless' to some, but to me Hawks managed this frantic pace well and showed everyone how it could be done.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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