Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1940. Columbia Pictures Corporation. Screenplay by Charles Lederer, based on the play The Front Page by Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur. Cinematography by Joseph Walker. Produced by Howard Hawks. Music by Sidney Cutner, Felix Mills. Production Design by Lionel Banks. Costume Design by Robert Kalloch. Film Editing by Gene Havlick.
Howard Hawks remakes The Front Page with a marvelous twist: Hildy Johnson, the star reporter that Walter Burns wants to keep from getting married and, therefore, getting out of the newspaper business, is now a woman. Not just any woman, but Rosalind Russell, ex-wife of Burns (Cary Grant) who is getting married to plain, conservative but kind Ralph Bellamy and moving to Albany to get away from her work. Grant won’t hear of it and does everything in his power to stop her from going, throwing Russell in the way of a big story when a convicted murderer is set to be executed but escapes from death row. Of course, Grant also has an ulterior motive: the divorce was not his idea and he has every intention of reversing it. Rapid-fire dialogue and a curious twist of comedy and drama, the former quite manic and the latter shockingly dark, make for a Howard Hawks classic that is sharper and more enjoyable than its predecessor or the versions that would follow (The Front Page in 1974 with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, and Switching Channels in 1988, which resets the story in the world of television).