His Girl Friday is a 1940 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, an adaptation by Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur of the play The Front Page by Hecht and MacArthur. The change in this version is that the role of Hildy Johnson was converted from male to female.
The film stars Cary Grant as Walter Burns and Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson and features Ralph Bellamy as Bruce Baldwin. It is noted for its rapid-fire dialogue.
The film was #19 on American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Laughs and has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Due to a failure to renew the copyright registration, the film entered the public domain in 1968, even though the 1928 play it is based on is still under copyright until 2024.
Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is a hard-boiled editor for The Morning Post who learns his ex-wife and former star reporter, Hildegard “Hildy” Johnson (Rosalind Russell), is about to marry bland insurance man Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) and settle down to a quiet life as a wife and mother in Albany, New York. Walter determines to sabotage these plans, enticing the reluctant Hildy to cover one last story, the upcoming execution of convicted murderer Earl Williams (John Qualen).
Walter does everything he can to keep Hildy from leaving, including setting Bruce up so he gets arrested over and over again on trumped-up charges. He even kidnaps Hildy’s stern mother-in-law-to-be (Alma Kruger). When Williams escapes from the bumbling sheriff (Gene Lockhart) and practically falls into Hildy’s lap, the lure of a big scoop proves too much for her. She is so consumed with writing the story that she hardly notices as Bruce realizes his cause is hopeless and returns to Albany.
His Girl Friday
Directed by Howard Hawks
Produced by Howard Hawks
Screenplay by Charles Lederer
Based on The Front Page 1928 play by Ben Hecht Charles MacArthur
Starring Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart
Music by Sidney Cutner, Felix Mills
Cinematography Joseph Walker
Edited by Gene Havlick
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates January 11, 1940
Running time 92 minutes
Country United States