Film Review // His Girl Friday (1940) - B Movies

figure 1. His Girl Friday - Film Poster
"A B Movie?! With Cary Grant in? " you might say, but as His Girl Friday releases under Columbia Pictures with Grant's early career in 1940 the all too familiar romantic comedy with a hint of drama is set to stage with a twist. Originally actually based on The Front Page, a play from 1928 by Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur His Girl Friday had to remain faithful to it's origins; just as Walter Burns (played by aforementioned Cary Grant) toys with Hildegard "Hildy" Johnson (played by Rosalind Russel) and her quarrel with staying true to her new marriage and divorce with Walter - ultimately failing. 

figure 2 - Walter, Bruce & Hildy share lunch..
 A Male & Female lead coupled with being a romantic comedy, His Girl Friday surely makes no great strides to be different; sticking to a predictable structure of conflict in the middle with a safe though awfully heartwarming resolve at the end and a script that does not dare go below the horizon line. Being lead to believe that His Girl Friday is yet another run of the mill film similar to that of Roman Holiday (1953) & Charade (1963) whilst partially correct does begin to show it's real colours eventually. The black sheep of His Girl Friday appears in the form of Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), a bland insurance man who plans to wed Hidly the next day and settle down in Albany with her. Walter, gratuitously played by the ever-popular choice for this type of role, Cary Grant, had not yet come into his own and his soon-to-be style of quaint cockiness has only just begin to arise yet regardless as the film progresses the conversing with Hidly only gains hilarity. Often, before 1950 a clash of culture, class, and generally what is considered humour can be lost on newer audiences, yet in the case of His Girl Friday it manages to surpass all these barriers and still be a pinnacle of laughter. As Hidly tells Walter about her new fiance and his willingness to hold doors open for her, or carry her bags (implying that he Walter himself did not), only then for him to demonstrate a "and I will continue to not to!" and do none of what she described sets the tone for the whole film. Walter consistently tries to sabotage Bruce, Hildy being fully aware, nay expects it, and tries to prepare for the inevitable but eventually Walter's cunning breaks through, landing Bruce in jail several times and getting his Mother into a car accident.

An abundance of timeless shenanigans with a witty script in copula, His Girl Friday has no tricks up it's sleeve regarding maquettes or special effects, and unlike more typical B Movies such as The Giant Claw (1957) with it's garish bird monster or Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and it's use of a rubber suited fish creature which exploit the unexplained monster genre, His Girl Friday exploits the effortless structure that comes with romantic comedy films of the time, and such a formula that still holds up today. Having said this it can unfortunately be perceived in an extremely safe manner that, bar the ending, feeds off of already existing acts and roles to create a film that does not add anything new to the table - then again neither did it try to.  


  1. Yep, a true (but good) paint by numbers romantic b-movie of the 40' you say Cary Grant is still a bit more Archi Leach at this stage in career. Nice choice and a good read.

    1. Ahaha yes definitely! He wasn't quite there yet..

      Thank you :-)