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His Girl Friday

"His Girl Friday" on DVD

Ink-Stained Comedy

Columbia Tristar's "His Girl Friday" is based on the famous play "The Front Page." It's a "nearly screwball" comedy from director Howard Hawks that pairs Cary Grant with Rosalind Russell as a pair of once-married newspapermen who can't seem to stay apart no matter how hard they try.

The Hawks version changes the "ace reporter" role to a female, which adds a whole dimension of comedy and chemistry - and the Grant/Russell team make the most of it.

His Girl Friday moves along at a breakneck pace and you'd better not blink or you may miss some delicious dialogue (some of which was apparently made up on the set) or action bits. The lines are great, the performances are perfect for the material, and the film rockets along to its relatively happy ending without too many people getting hurt along the way - though lives are definitely changed.

Grant and Russell have real sparks between them - and it's great to see Russell's character is a strong woman at home in a mostly-male world. Terrific support comes from Ralph Bellamy, who thinks he's there to marry Russell but who turns out to be mostly just along for the ride.

This is not only a good comedy, it's a delicious indictment of the newspaper business and, by extension, the TV networks and magazines that have come along since. It's a tale of "Get the story - or make the story - at all costs," and though it's far more gentle than it need be, it should be required viewing by journalists and journalism students worldwide.

The DVD version has been restored from the original negative and the digitally mastered fullscreen picture and Dolby Digital mono audio looks and sounds very good considering the movie's age.

Extras include a running commentary with film critic and author Todd McCarthy, a quartet of featurettes, vintage advertising, trailer, talent files, and a typically "Columbia Classics" liner essay.

His Girl Friday from Columbia Tristar Home Video
92 minutes, Fullscreen, Dolby Digital mono
Starring Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart
Written Charles Lederer, Directed by Howard Hawks


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Updated May 5, 2010