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His Girl Friday

Released Jan 11, 1940 1h 32m Comedy TRAILER for His Girl Friday: Trailer 1 List
99% Tomatometer 104 Reviews 90% Audience Score 10,000+ Ratings
When hard-charging New York newspaper editor Walter Burns discovers that his ex-wife, investigative reporter Hildy Johnson, has gotten engaged to milquetoast insurance agent Bruce Baldwin, he unsuccessfully tries to lure her away from tame domestic life with a story about the impending execution of convicted murderer Earl Williams. But when Hildy discovers Williams may be innocent, her reporter instincts take over. Read More Read Less
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His Girl Friday

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His Girl Friday

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Critics Consensus

Anchored by stellar performances from Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, His Girl Friday is possibly the definitive screwball romantic comedy.

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Critics Reviews

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Kate Muir Times (UK) The zingers don’t stop... Nov 15, 2022 Full Review Katherine Howard Fort Worth Star-Telegram/ It is with a great deal of envy that this real Girl Friday reports on the reel Girl Friday who cavorts on the [screen in] His Girl Friday. We can only say: It must have been wonderful to work in the "dark ages" of newspapering. Oct 14, 2021 Full Review Mae Tinee Chicago Tribune This farcical film is smartly acted, dialoged, and directed. It has nary a "Go" light for boredom. Oct 14, 2021 Full Review Matt Brunson Film Frenzy One of the all-time great motion pictures -- if anyone ever elects to place a screwball comedy in a time capsule for 25th-century historians to analyze, it might as well be this one. Rated: 4/4 Apr 4, 2023 Full Review Dilys Powell Sunday Times (UK) It is intensely exciting and funny, a picture which flashes by you before you have had time to remember that for an hour and a half you have forgotten the war. Aug 9, 2022 Full Review Brian Eggert Deep Focus Review A film resting on the speed and timing of its delivery, as well as the talent of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, His Girl Friday remains a whimsical classic whose sheer velocity earned Hawks boasting rights over Milestone's earlier version. Rated: 4/4 Mar 18, 2022 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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helder f It’s an eventful movie that’s perhaps a bit too loaded with words, where almost everything is said and very little is implied or let for the viewer to deduce. I can hardly think of a movie with as many words per minute particularly when Grant takes part of a scene. As eventful as the movie might be, nothing feels genuine perhaps because everything is hasty Rated 3 out of 5 stars 07/21/24 Full Review Jeff M This is a witty, highly enjoyable comedy that has more smiles than out-and-out laughs - but the smiles are definitely aplenty! And although the entire cast is aces, Russell is downright sensational as the sassy, headstrong reporter torn between her ex-husband, her fiancée and her love of finding the news that is fit to print. I know the rapid-fire rat-a-tat-tat delivery of the dialogue was quite common at this time, and at times it does indeed add some humor to the proceedings. That being said, and maybe this is my age talking, I occasionally find myself having trouble keeping up. In fact, I had to rewind a couple scenes to make sure I caught everything. And those of us who use subtitles are a big exhausted by the end. Grant and Russell have a wonderful rapport together, and the main pleasure here is watching their back-and-forth with one another. I can't quite put it on a pedestal with the likes of BRINGING UP BABY, but it is a wonderfully good time! And, again, Russell stands head and shoulder pads above everyone else! Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/17/24 Full Review Alec B Fast talking screwball antics and cynicism abound so it's right up my alley. Russell is great and I'll always be impressed by how Grant can make the biggest cads still seem charming as hell. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 12/13/23 Full Review Brett A Falls flat. We watched this movie as we loved Grant in Arsenic and Old Lace and this showed up as #17 on some top 100 of all time movie list. Madcap yes but not at all funny. Hard pass. Rated 1 out of 5 stars 11/27/23 Full Review Matthew B The expression that comes to mind when I think about His Girl Friday is "fast-talking". This is not a mere impression, and it is not an accident. In making the film, the director Howard Hawks was deliberately aiming for that effect. His Girl Friday was the second film adaptation of a 1920s comedy called The Front Page. The first film version supposedly had the record for the fastest dialogue delivery on screen, and Hawks was trying to beat that record. Hawks' use of overlapping dialogue and a sound mixer intended to increase the speed of the actor's speeches had the desired effect. It is said that His Girl Friday has an average count of 240 words spoken per minute, considerably faster than normal human speech. This gives the movie the feel of being a musical without music – one in which the rhythm is contained within the speech. Sometimes the banter slows down. Sometimes there is silence. Much of the time it pours out rapidly, and repeated viewings of the film are necessary to follow all of verbal exchanges. However His Girl Friday was not a tightly planned technical exercise in moviemaking. It was a comedy, and Hawks wanted a spontaneous effect. Actors were encourage to ad-lib and improvise. Admittedly some of that ad-libbing was planned by individual actors too, but it led to a number of unexpected jokes. Actors break the fourth wall and address the screen. Cary Grant makes self-referential jokes, suggesting that Ralph Bellamy's character looks like the actor Ralph Bellamy, and making allusions to a man called Archie Leach (Grant's real name). Camera work is fluid too. At the beginning the camera tracks along the office, showing the bustle and murmur of the pressroom. Despite most of the action taking place in one or two sets, there is never the feeling that we are watching a stage play. The story is a simple enough one. The action takes place in and around the pressrooms connected to The Morning Post, a newspaper whose output is controlled by its editor, Walter Burns (Cary Grant). Walter's ex-wife Hildy (Rosalind Russell) is planning to give up journalism and settle down with amiable sap, Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy). However Walter has not given up hope of sabotaging the engagement and winning back his former wife. When the unfairly convicted Earl Williams (John Qualen) escapes from the prison where he is awaiting execution, Hildy soon forgets her plans for retirement and marriage, as she is caught up in reporting the story. The behaviour of the two characters in relation to one another, and in relation to those around them, makes for some interesting sexual politics. One of the main changes between the 1931 film The Front Page and this 1940 adaptation is that the character of Hildy Johnson received a sex change in this version. Howard Hawks is said to have made this decision during auditions when his secretary read the lines of Hildy Johnson, and Hawks liked the way they sounded when delivered by a woman. I suspect we may need to take this story with a grain of salt. The more likely reason was to add a little romance, and improve the film's commercial appeal. There is no doubt though that the decision to make Hildy a woman proved to be an inspired one. Her personality reflects this gender change, but in ways that make the film more interesting. Rosalind Russell was not the first choice for the role, but on reflection she was the best actress possible – someone who could seem tough and abrasive, but who was capable of occasional softer moments. Howard Hawks was a conservative director, and this is clear from His Girl Friday. Like many comedies of the age, the husband and wife must come together at the end of the story, even if they have been divorced. The sanctity of marriage is re-established. Hawks also has no time for weak sentiment or expression of feeling. Nonetheless Hawks had a great admiration for strong, feisty women, and Hildy Johnson anticipated many of the heroines of Hawks' later movies, such as To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep and Rio Bravo. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why His Girl Friday seems so modern, and endures well. I wrote a longer appreciation of His Girl Friday on my blog page if you would like to read more: Rated 5 out of 5 stars 08/24/23 Full Review Farah R Although it's regarded as one of the best comedies of the Hollywood Golden Age, I didn't find anything outstanding about the film in any way. It's too noisy as everything is loud and everyone is talking too fast simultaneously. I also didn't find the screwball comedy appealing nor the charters likable, so I guess the charm of His Girl Friday has been lost over the decades. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 05/02/23 Full Review Read all reviews
His Girl Friday

My Rating


Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis When hard-charging New York newspaper editor Walter Burns discovers that his ex-wife, investigative reporter Hildy Johnson, has gotten engaged to milquetoast insurance agent Bruce Baldwin, he unsuccessfully tries to lure her away from tame domestic life with a story about the impending execution of convicted murderer Earl Williams. But when Hildy discovers Williams may be innocent, her reporter instincts take over.
Howard Hawks
Howard Hawks
Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Charles Lederer
Columbia Pictures
Production Co
Columbia Pictures
Original Language
Release Date (Theaters)
Jan 11, 1940, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
Jul 30, 2014
1h 32m
Sound Mix
Aspect Ratio
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