His Girl Friday ★★★★

A gorgeous, hilarious newspaper romance. Rosalind Russell absolutely sells this film, but the script and overall deliveries are no less incredible. The cinematography and camera movements are crisp and cunning, pretending to be a static stage play, then pulling off fancy cinematic flourishes.

However, it is this very juxtaposition that I have issue with. It's very apparent that the film is based on a stage production... and I don't think it's necessarily in the film's favor. The framing often invokes a full stage, breaking the effect for only stylistic close-ups or elegant pans. While it's super enjoyable at times, it didn't always succeed for me. The rapid editing sequences are fantastic, but they feel like they're from a far more innovative, stylish movie. When we return to the regular framing and pacing, the film instantly feels just a bit slower and less interesting. Furthermore, the dialogue and acting are so fast and fluid that every cut is instantly jarring. I can see how this issue might have influenced Hitchcock to develop the single-take style of Rope, released only two years later. Lastly, the story structure is a bit weak. The first and third acts are brilliant, but I felt the middle got muddled and dragged dreadfully, losing tons of its charm without Cary Grant. Eventually I just got disengaged when it was scene after scene of people yelling into prop phones.

I feel bad for not loving this film. I really loved a lot things about it. It's exceptionally well written, acted, and shot, and it's constantly laugh-out-loud funny, but I feel the whole film ends up weaker than the sum of its parts. Still, well worth a watch!

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