His Girl Friday - Howard Hawks' Timeless Heroine Who's More Relevant than Ever
Last night, my youngest daughter stated that she wanted to watch an "old" movie, something like The Pajama Game. It had been awhile since I'd watched anything with Cary Grant and I suggested His Girl Friday (Grant's second best comedy next to the Philadelphia Story). Much like when I showed my kids Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels, I worry that they'll lose interest when they realize that most of Western society was unapologetically sexist. And, yes, the world of "His Girl Friday" is quite sexist, but Hildy Johnson is up for the challenge. Rosalind Russell is amazing as the street-smart star reporter who can hold her own with the press crew waiting for an execution while also figuring out the best lede necessary to save the victim's life.
Strangely, though the setting and habits of most of the cast are of a different age (the outfits, the smoking, the old-style phones), the premise feels like it could be happening today: a young career woman pondering the quiet life, the tug-of-war between factual and sensational journalism, and the use of scare tactics and boogeymen to get political votes.
The movie is a lot of fun, and the rapid-fire dialogue between Grant and Russell is so fast that it is often hard to catch the joke before another comes at you. Ultimately, though, Russell is the one that makes the movie shine. She comes across as a precursor to Christiane Amanpour, brilliant at what she does, though occasionally needs to be reminded of the power she wields.