Rapid-fire dialogue and memorable performances highlight director Howard Hawks' screwball revamping of the Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur stage hit "The Front Page." Cary Grant stars as a crafty newspaper editor who plans to keep his ex-wife and former ace reporter (Rosalind Russell) from marrying a boring insurance salesman (Ralph Bellamy) by getting her to cover the exciting story surrounding a convicted murderer's execution. With Alma Kruger, Gene Lockhart. 92 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital 5.1; interviews; featurettes; theatrical trailers; radio adaptations. Two-disc set.
The second screen version of the Ben Hecht/Charles Mac Arthur play The Front Page, His Girl Friday changed hard-driving newspaper reported 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 their impending marriage as a ploy to win her back. The ace up Walter's sleeve is a late breaking news story concerning the impending execution of anarchist Earl Williams (John Qualen), a blatant example of political chicanery that Hildy can't pass up. The story gets hotter when Williams escapes and is hidden from the cops by Hildy and Walter-right in the prison pressroom. His Girl Friday may well be the fastest comedy of the 1930s, with kaleidoscope action, instantaneous plot twists, and overlapping dialogue. And if you listen closely, you'll hear a couple of "in" jokes, one concerning Cary Grant's real name (Archie Leach), and another poking fun at at Ralph Bellamy's patented "poor sap" screen image. Subsequent versions of The Front Page included Billy Wilder's 1974 adaptation, which restored Hildy Johnson's manhood in the form of Jack Lemmon, and 1988's Switching Channels, which cast Burt Reynolds in the Walter Burns role and Kathleen Turner as Hildy Johnson counterpart.