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Howard Hawks: The Measure of Man

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
7:00 p.m. His Girl Friday
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1940)

Restored Print!

To Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s cynical portrait of tabloid journalism, Hawks added doubly cynical romance, transforming The Front Page’s Hildy Johnson into a gal and thus drawing Walter Burns’s Machiavellian machinations into the sexual arena. Cary Grant as the cocky newsroom editor and Rosalind Russell as the crime reporter who gets ’em in the classified ads every time are well met in a field where, as Andrew Sarris and Tom Allen wrote, “a scoop is worth more than a corpse”—or, presumably, a warm body. Actors like Grant and Russell could talk faster than actors today can think; in the hands of Hawks, who had a sense of sound as movement, the lines come at breakneck speed, dialogue overlapping constantly. One experiences not a string of one-liners but a jazz-like sound quality: dense, rhythmic, layered, in motion.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Charles Lederer, from the play The Front Page by Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur. Photographed by Joseph Walker. With Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart. (92 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Sony Pictures)