His Girl Friday (1940)
This snappy, fast-paced film about the increasingly tabloid newspaper business was something of a revelation back in the day, hailed for being a clever updated version of "The Front Page" with engaging performances and "tense suspense" (according to Harrison's Report). Seen today, however, His Girl Friday is far more impressive from a technical point of view than it is on the grounds of the story and acting. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell demonstrate their unquestionable comedic talents, but their performances are too mechanical; too tightly controlled by the rhythm of the dialogue which director Howard Hawks wants to capture. And both the film's dramatic and comedic potential suffer for it. With so few changes in locations and camera positions, it's hard to watch His Girl Friday without thinking about Hawks' choreography rather than the effect of the story, the romance, and the sometimes ingenious twists and turns. Among the film's highlights are the opening lunch and a couple of segments between Russell and a fine John Qualen as the convicted murderer. Remade several times, notably in 1988 with Burt Reynolds and Kathleen Turner.