His Girl Friday

  • Directed by Howard Hawks
  • United States, 1940, 92 mins., English

One of the most famous products to come out of Columbia Pictures during its late-’30s/early-’40s heyday, His Girl Friday is a model of wisecracking, fast-paced dialogue directly springing from its screwball forebears of the ’30s (in particular Frank Capra’s Columbia films). Walter Burns (an effervescent Cary Grant) is a newspaper editor whose ex-wife Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell in her most famous role) is on the verge of settling down to a boring housewife’s life, having once been a star investigative reporter. But Burns has one last job for Hildy: cover the high-profile execution of a convicted murderer. Is Burns sincere, or callously trying to win Hildy back? And when the murderer escapes, how will they handle it? His Girl Friday is a film that provides endless small pleasures to its audience—“a frenetic movie about attraction, ambition, and work that hasn’t lost a step—it’s funny, and not in that appreciative-titter ‘Ah, that was the Golden Age’ way.”—Nick Pinkerton, The Village Voice.

Genres: Comedy

Other Films by Howard Hawks

rio-bravo

Rio Bravo

John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Ricky Nelson team up in this idiosyncratic take on the “singing cowboy” Western from the ever-versatile Howard Hawks. When aging Sheriff John T. Chance (Wayne), who oversees a very small, unnamed Western town, arrests and jails accused murderer Joe Burdette (Claude Akins), Burdette’s brother Nathan vows revenge and hires guns

BFI Southbank, Howard Hawks season. January 2011

The Big Sleep

One of the key noirs of the 1940s, The Big Sleep features several legends of the American page and screen—Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Howard Hawks, Raymond Chandler, William Faulkner, and Leigh Brackett—collaborating on a messy masterpiece that, fittingly, lacks traditional narrative logic but more than makes up for it with dripping atmosphere and fine performances.

ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS

Only Angels Have Wings

Hawks’ fourth film about air-bound transit stars Cary Grant as Geoff Carter, a pilot for a small airline whose main task is delivering the mail to and from a remote camp in the foothills of the Andes. Carter manages several other pilots who repeatedly take massive risks due to the treacherous terrain and the limitations