50/50 Review #13: His Girl Friday.

This marks my first Howard Hawkes flick, and jumpin' jehosaphat... what a doozy! Ex-journalist Hildy (Rosalind Russell) is getting married to Bruce (Ralph Bellamy), but first needs to tell her old boss and ex-husband, Walter (Cary Grant). But Walter goes out of his way, using all his resources, trying to make sure she doesn't end up marrying the guy so that she will end up back with him and at his paper. And unfortunately, a potentially wrongly accused murderer Earl Williams (John Qualen) is going to be hanged the following day, and his story becomes further and further intertwined with theirs.

I felt like I couldn't breath the entire movie. The acting style had everyone speaking about five times as fast Social Network, and all on top of each other. Honestly, it was completely fascinating and rather humorous (I even laughed out a loud a couple times). Of course, an hour-and-a-half of it came to be a bit much at times. The comedic timing of the actors mixed with the whip-crack speed of the dialogue was outstanding, even if it was difficult to keep up sometimes. And hey, there were even a couple meta jokes!

The story took me into unexpected places, too. I was expecting the one where Walter tries to stop Hildy from getting married again. But what I didn't expect was the newspaper angle and all the wrongfully accused murderer stuff. That was a unique twist to this story that kept me guessing where the film was gonna be going next. I also appreciated the con artist feel of the film. It was like Hildy and Walter were trying to out-con each other throughout the film, and then there was even an ending not unlike that of a con artist flick.

And... that's about it. Really. Outside of the brilliant, witty dialogue and the incredible speed with which it was said, the film doesn't really offer up much else (though I'm sure we could bring feminism up here pretty easily). At least not on a first viewing. The characters are fascinating, and the actors who portray them do so excellently. But everything this movie has to offer resides in its words. All five billion of them (potential hyperbole). Ironic how this review seems to be just the opposite.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. If there's anything more specific you want to talk about, just hit me up in the comments!)


  1. Yea, it's the cracking dialogue that stands out on the first viewing. I've watched it again and while I do like it a lot, there are a handful of Hawks films I like a lot more. If you want more like this but with meatier stories, I recommend Only Angels Have Wings and Bringing Up Baby.

  2. Nick, I think you hit the big points on His Girl Friday. I love the rapid-fire dialogue, and Grant and Russell are both so great and charming. I also like the journalistic angle too. They're mostly portrayed as totally corrupt, but in a very likable way. I'm glad you liked it.

  3. Yep. This one is all about the script. If you like the script in this one, I can't recommend The Thin Man highly enough.

    Oh, and James is wrong about Bringing Up Baby.


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