Married and unmarried couples—relax and hit the couch—date night has arrived. Lovers of the screwball will eye this in delight; it’s an old comedy with laughs abound.
Charles Lederer wrote the screenplay while Howard Hawks directed the film, which is executed phenomenally. It doesn’t scream special, but it does everything right. Proper credit is due to both men. The picture stars Cary Grant, who was cast at the snap of the finger, which should come as no surprise. It was originally supposed to be another man starring alongside Grant, but the director liked the idea of a woman as the main change in his film adaptation based on a Broadway comedy called “The Front Page.” The casting process was difficult but they eventually settled on Rosalind Russell as Hildy, and she acted superbly.
Cary Grant—a class act of multiple decades of film and a cream of the crop actor—anchors another masterful role, as the fast talking Walter Burns who uses his power and intelligence to prevent his ex-wife Hildy from getting married at all costs, to her fiancé Bruce (Ralph Bellamy).
In a nutshell, that is the synopsis. In addition, there is a subplot revolving around a convict about to be sentenced to death, who escapes. Both main characters Walter and Hildy let him take refuge with them and hide him, so they can turn him in the following day for good press. Much according to Walter Burns’ unstated plan, Hildy gets swept up in all the breaking news and makes a life altering decision, which I will not spoil.
There is plenty of humor in the film; some of it is sophisticated and some not so much. It will grow on you if you invest time into more than one viewing. Humorous events such as Walter having Hildy’s fiancé arrested three separate times, calling Hildy a traitor when she wants to quit journalism, and accidentally mistaking her husband for an old man help make this a great film.
The editing of the film seems well executed, and the visuals and cinematography are decent but are old fashioned, as expected. The sound is great and the line of speech adds to the comedy. This screwball classic has won the hearts of millions throughout decades, and will hopefully continue to do so. It has made top 100 film of all time lists, and rightfully so. It’s a fresh reminder that its quality is good for the preservation of this treasure of the past.
Old pictures are what we hold closest to our hearts.