His Girl Friday (1940)

“Work-life balance” is frequently a term that emerges within many employment agencies, encouraging workers to cultivate a life full of activities that actualize their dreams. Many individuals find it difficult to distinctly separate these two ideas, with their work evolving into their identity. This progression intensifies as title, prestige, and greed expand, filtering into employees with the dream of a promotion. “His Girl Friday” is an extremely witty screwball comedy from 1940 directed by Howard Hawks, exploring this particular idea and others in a highly cynical fashion.

Walter Burns, played by the always suave Cary Grant, is the editor of the hard-hitting newspaper, “The Morning Post”. Burns’ ex-wife and former reporter of the same newspaper, Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), announces her engagement to insurance agent Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) on the same day that a massive story is to break. This involves Earl Williams (John Qualen), a soft-spoken man who shot and killed a police officer, and is to be executed for political gain. Hildy is propelled to become Burns’ “girl Friday”, heavily assisting him to reveal all facets of this story in a most timely fashion. This role may compromise her newly cultivated identity as a former reporter and future wife. It is to be noted that the screenplay delivery through rapid dialogue and intelligent repartee not only further defines the screwball genre, but creates an atmosphere of intensity that mirrors the urgency of a newspaper obtaining information for dispersion.

While 92 minutes in length, this film addresses and satirizes a wide variety of sociopolitical topics. Political corruption, betrayal, and manipulation are used by various characters, especially Burns, to achieve personal and/or professional gain at others’ expense. The callous elements of human nature emerge through a myriad of press members when discussing the current object of their writing affection, Williams. Humanity becomes isolated from their insensitive reporting styles, protecting them from any sentiments that may skew objectivity of reporting or more often embellishment. Sexism is another theme investigated, as many exploit Hildy’s emotions, future, and talents to serve their career-oriented needs. Exteriorly a comedy, this film paints a dark light on the disrespect that can be conveyed towards fellow man in the pursuit of power.



I do not own the above image.

5 thoughts on “His Girl Friday (1940)

  1. Lots of witty lines in this movie, and many laugh-out-loud scenes. However, like you said, it is a critical look at society, especially with those who are powerful or wish to be so.

    It’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen this, and you’ve made me want to see it again soon! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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