falderal : a moving images blog
His Girl Friday ; 1940  ·  Posted by Tallulah

Director: Howard Hawks
Actors: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
Country: U.S.A.

While being sick in bed during spring break, I decided to be productive and watch this film for my screwball comedy class. I was trying to decide which film to watch (this or The Lady Eve) and I decided that I would watch His Girl Friday because I know that Barbara Stanwyck would never let me down with her performance, thus I wanted to give Rosalind Russell a chance. I’ve seen her before in The Women and found her quite charming, but I wanted to see her in other films as well. She was great in The Women but she COMPLETELY stole the show with this film. So here I am, sniffling away and listening to Velvet Eden, posting on this site.

Rather than posting a bit of the synopsis, although I might reference some scenes and such, I just want to say: ANYONE WHO ADORES COMEDIES, PARTICULARLY SCREWBALLS SHOULD WATCH THIS. I really loved it although I’m not sure if there was much chemistry between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. Like most screwballs I’ve watched, this one also sets place in a newspaper publisher (The Morning Post), which already sets up the stage for people talking over each other and quick dialogue. Russell is Hildegaard (Hildy), the ex-wife of Walter Burns (Grant), the editor of The Morning Post, and of course, it’s obvious that Walter is going to try to get Hildy back. And like most screwballs, Hildy already has another man! While the story is quite predictable, it’s the acting on Russell’s end and sometimes Grant’s that makes this film great. I knew what was going to happen, but the quick dialogue is what kept me watching. I could have cared less about the whole newspaper story, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off of Russell. Grant had some great moments when he would make these weird groaning/moaning noises that were perfect for the scene. Ralph Bellamy plays Bruce, and of course, he is the guy Hildy is going to marry, but if you’ve watched some screwballs, you probably know what happens to Bruce in the end. There was a great line when Walter tells one of his assistants to find Bruce and when he describes Bruce, he says, “He looks like that fellow in the movies – Ralph Bellamy.” I should be on the look out for more movie references in screwballs since I noticed one in Bringing Up Baby as well. It was nice to see Ralph Bellamy again since I saw him in The Awful Truth as well and he pretty much played the same character, which made me chuckle a bit.

And how could I not mention Howard Hawks in this post, right? For those who don’t know, Hawks is a well-known director by film buffs and has directed numerous famous films. Maybe you know him as the director of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (you know, the film with Marilyn Monroe singing “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”!) but let me tell you, he has never disappointed me with any of his films. I loved how he used some subtleties like in a scene when Hildy, Bruce, and Walter are at a restaurant and with the things they ordered and their actions, it was as if it was foreshadowing the ending of this film. First it starts with Walter deciding what he’ll get and Hildy simply saying that she’ll get the same, and Bruce kind of goes with it as well. Then both Hildy and Walter take out cigarettes and when Hildy lights a match, Walter simply drags Hildy’s match over to his cigarette and Hildy gives him a look of annoyance and then lights her own cigarette. I noticed that Bruce didn’t smoke in the scene and then Walter orders coffee with rum and Hildy gets the same thing, but Bruce says that he doesn’t want it. After watching the film, I realized that the scene (the one I just mentioned) was the film in a nutshell. At the beginning, it all appears to be that the three characters are on an equal plane, yet it is Walter who orders first in a forceful voice and when Hildy orders the same in a simple manner, it was as if ordering the roast beef sandwich was something they usually did and was nothing new to her. Then when they both start smoking and Walter doing the thing he does with the match, it’s like bringing Walter and Hildy together and finally with the coffee, it is solidifying the bond between Walter and Hildy while Bruce is in the outskirts. Well, that’s just my interpretations of things, but I thought that Hawks directed that scene and the rest of the film incredibly well.
I probably gave away most of the story by just rambling about it, but really, I highly suggest that you watch this film if you’re up for a good laugh. The DVD I had was by some company called D3K or something and the transfer was HORRIBLE so I hope that the link I posted below will lead you to a better quality DVD. I’m also sorry for namedropping a bunch of films, but hopefully you will watch those in the future as well (since they are all worth a watch) or maybe I’ll post about them in the future.

EDIT (5/17/09): I posted about The Awful Truth, if you are interested in reading about it.

IMDb link: His Girl Friday
Where to buy: Amazon.com

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