The Front Page (1931)

The Front Page 1931Just before Earl Williams (George E. Stone) is to be executed, the big question on many newspaper reporters minds is where isn’t about the execution, but where Hildy Johnson (Pat O’Brien) is.  Hildy is one of the top reporters in Chicago and with the execution being such a big story, it’s odd that Hildy is nowhere to be found.  The truth is, Hildy has had enough of the newspaper world and is ready to leave it behind to marry his girlfriend Peggy (Mary Grant).  He’s happy to stop by the press room at the courthouse to say goodbye to his friends, but the one person he absolutely does not want to see is his editor Walter Burns (Adolphe Menjou).  He knows that if he visits Walter, he’ll get suckered into staying at the paper.

But before Hildy can leave town, Earl Williams escapes.  The reporters in the press room rush to get on the story and Hildy can’t help but be caught up in the excitement and gets to work on the story himself.  After a while, Peggy arrives at the press room, not happy about being pushed aside for the newspaper yet again.  As much as Hildy would like to be with Peggy, he gets the scoop of a lifetime when Williams climbs in through a window of the press room.  Hildy hides Williams from the other reporters and when the other reporters are back in the press room, Williams’ friend Molly (Mae Clarke) distracts them by jumping out a window.

While Hildy works, Walter comes to check on him and of course, he tries to convince Hildy to stay on at the paper.  As the action unfolds, Hildy is left to juggle the big story and his soon-to-be wife.

If the story of The Front Page sounds familiar, that’s probably because it’s best remembered as its remake, 1940’s His Girl Friday.  Although The Front Page is a pretty good movie, it’s one of the rare times where I liked the remake better than the original.  Pat O’Brien and Adolphe Menjou are fine, but I much prefer Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.  The Front Page is funny and fast paced, but His Girl Friday is full of even faster dialogue and the screwball factor is really amped up.  I really don’t mean to imply that The Front Page isn’t worth watching, but His Girl Friday took everything that was good about The Front Page and ran with it.

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