His Girl Friday, 1940, Columbia Pictures. Starring Rosalind Russell, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy. Directed by Howard Hawks. B&W, 92 minutes.
This classic comedy reigns with its sharp banter, sophisticated stars and satirical plot.
Ace reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), returns to the newsroom to inform her ex-husband — and fellow newsman — Walter Burns (Cary Grant) she’s quitting and getting married again, this time to safe, secure insurance agent Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy).
It’s not long before we see mild-mannered Bruce is all wrong for the fiery Hildy, and the witty and sly repartee between Walter & Hildy makes you wonder what tore them apart.
The why’s and wherefore’s of Hildy’s decision to leave Walter and her choice of Bruce are quickly revealed, but it’s no surprise when the impending execution of a possibly innocent man overtakes her reporter’s instincts. She puts the wedding on hold while pursuing the story, and all the while Walter is working on winning her back with some less-than-honorable methods.
Those not familiar with Grant’s comedic skills may be surprised at his adeptness with the art. His timing, subtlety — and lack of it when necessary — made him one of the great romantic comedy actors of his day. Yes, he’s suave and handsome, but that’s only part of his charm.
Russell is his match in every way, and the two definitely have chemistry. As Hildy, wrapped in the quick pace of both the conversation and the plot, she gives a fine portrayal of a woman in a man’s world, long before that became much of a reality.
Poor Ralph Bellamy. His performance as the milquetoast and enamored fiancé is perfect, but as such, Grant and Russell outshine him.
The mockery of the world of news reporting and the hijinks that surround a dramatic case are, we trust, exaggerated. The remaining cast, keeping up with its stars but never overpowering a scene, support the satirical spirit of the story. It is, however, the interaction between Grant & Russell that make up the best parts of the movie.
This is a great rainy Saturday afternoon film, but don’t wait for a downpour to watch it.