His Girl Friday 1940 ★★★★½

The precursor to our modern romantic comedies, but man, did they have a better idea of how to create these back in 1940. I'm not even sure where to begin, there's so much to say about this movie, but perhaps the most important thing is this: This movie is fun. Pure, simple fun. I laughed out loud (watching it alone) more than once. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell are amazing.

In some ways, the plot could be considered the inverse of My Best Friend's Wedding, in that a guy wants to break up the impending nuptials of a woman he loves. The difference between the two, and why this movie isn't nearly as despicable as its descendent, is that Russell knows from the word go that Grant wants her back. Not only were they married at one time, but Grant doesn't hide his desire, as Julia Roberts does in her movie. It puts the two main characters on equal footing throughout the film and that makes all the difference.

Well, perhaps not all the difference, as we're also treated to a couple in a romantic comedy and neither one is portrayed as a horrible person. Well, I suppose Grant's character is actually a horrible person, but there's so much wit and charm on display that it's hard to hold it against him.

It's important to note two other things about this movie. First of all, there's a lot of plot going on here, aside from the rom-com angle. In fact, there's a rather tongue in cheek skewering of both journalists and politicians that would be worthy of its own movie, and fits nicely into this one. Second, the dialogue is amazing. This movie doesn't just move briskly, it all out sprints through its scenes, to the point where I almost felt tired after some of them, but in a satisfied and happy way. Aaron Sorkin has nothing on these scriptwriters, and the actors, while utilizing an acting style that definitely feels of its time, still do an amazing job delivering their lines, often at the same time as each other. I could have listened to these people talk for hours.

Just great stuff. Huge thanks to Julie for the recommendation!

8 Comments

  • equal footing <-- I think the most important part. So glad you liked it. Also, check out Lise's review for the neat bit about the screenplay.

  • I can believe what she says about the script being double the length of a normal script for a movie of 90 minutes, because the dialogue is just insane! And the scenes where people are talking at the same time, or are trading back and forth, with no time between lines from different people. It's amazing!

    I was just somewhat surprised by how much fun I had watching this movie. I really need to load up my queue with some other classics.

  • I love that freeing feeling of just pure enjoyment =) I found out that Billy Wilder remade this picture in the 70s with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon - The Front Page. I haven't given it a try yet, but I thought that was interesting (and it's also on Netflix).

    I've been watching a ton of classics this summer, way more than normal - a theatre in Austin does a summer classics film series every year, and this is my first time going. I've seen lots of great stuff.

  • I'm going to try The Front Page. I can't imagine a remake would be as good as this, but that's a heck of a pedigree on he remake, so its probably worth watching.

    Ah, I wish we had a theatre in this area doing classics. I've just become a supporter of a local theatre in the area, and I'm friends with a board member, and we've been looking at ways to do something like that here, so my fingers are crossed!

  • I started to put it on the other night, and stopped - it was too soon for me.

    That's pretty awesome. What's the area (or even just the state)? I'm so spoiled in Austin, there's really a great film community here. I didn't realize it before we moved here, but I'm sure glad about it.

  • I assume you mean Austin, Texas, right? Isn't that where the Alamo Drafthouse originated? I've heard great things about the film community there, and would love to have one of the Drafthouses close to me (I think the closest is about two hours away).

    I live in central Pennsylvania, very close to the capitol city of Harrisburg (which is where I work). It's not completely culturally deprived, just mostly culturally deprived. :) There are enough people interested that there are often attempts to bring something like a classic movie film festival to town, but sadly those attempts rarely last because there aren't enough people interested to keep them solvent in the long run.

  • Yup and yup! Believe me, it's fantastic.

    I moved from Pittsburgh (I grew up in Albany but went to school at Pitt). My husband is from Colver (outside of Ebensburg, outside of Johnstown). He has a cousin who lives in Harrisburg. Small world =) I was working in Harrisburg for a few months, it's not a bad town, a lot like Albany actually. Pretty good food scene, if I remember correctly. But yea, I definitely know that climate. And if they do happen, they tend to be pretty expensive for attendees because of that.

  • Yes, Harrisburg isn't horrible. And you're right about the expense. But we'll keep trying, and things like Netflix mean that a lot of these movies can be watched at home.

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