The Front Page ★★★½

Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's wildly fast-paced newspaper comedy-drama about the 24 hours straddling an expected execution served as the source material for His Girl Friday, but first it was this unusual hybrid of proto-screwball and display of gritty pre-Code machismo. Some of the dialogue becomes stilted, quick and breathless as it is, in the translation from stage to screen, and the character relationships seem strangely less believable than those in the larger-than-life Howard Hawks variation, and this script is far more tied to its time with the talk about red-baiting and "the colored vote." The most fascinating thing about this, actually, is Milestone's direction, which repeatedly employs an agility in the camera and a series of unexpectedly bravura tracking shots and long takes that feel like a vestige from the silent years. Visually this is about as inventive and surprising as James Whale and Rouben Mamoulian's work from the period.