His Girl Friday
Cinema masterpieces, at home, for free and without defrauding? Archive https://archive.org/details/feature_films, the American organization which makes available a large number of free works on the Internet, contains more than 6,500 films which have fallen into the public domain. In fact, the film by George A. Romero, founder of modern horror, is one of the most viewed on the site, like the cheerful Little Boutique of Horrors by Roger Corman, or the famous “worst film of all time”: Plan 9 From Outer Space, which has become legendary since Tim Burton devoted a film to its fantastic author, Ed Wood.
Almost all of first 30 years of cinema
But the regular attendance of Archive is not reserved for geeks. Because unless they have been restored, or copyrighted new music, ALL movies released before January 1, 1923 have fallen into the public domain in the United States.
We let you imagine the mass: almost every first 30 years of American cinema! Even more astonishing, many of the classics of sound cinema are also free of rights, and not least: Sabotage and Une femme disparaître by Alfred Hitchcock, L’Homme de la rue by Frank Capra and his patriotic war films from the series Why We Fight, but also Metropolis and M. le Maudit by Fritz Lang, and almost all of Eisenstein!
If there was only one left, it would be this one
Touchstone of the screwball comedy and classic of the remarriage comedy, His Girl Friday, is undoubtedly the most frantic comedy in the history of cinema. She stages a newspaper director and his ex-wife, and contributor to the newspaper, who as the genre wants will spend the whole film to get dressed and hit each other to better fall into each other’s arms at the end of the film. Sorry for the disclosure, but we know that this is the logic of genre.
As the theorist of the genre, the philosopher Stanley Cavell wrote:«If the man and the woman fight, we know they love each other. The more they fight, the more they love each other.»
The director, the unscrupulous Walter Burns, is the burlesque genius, the elegant Cary Grant, iconic comedian, if any, of screwball comedy, here more self-ironic than ever. And in front of him, Howard Hawks’ brilliant idea for this adaptation of the famous play by Ben Hecht The Front Page (which Billy Wilder will in turn transpose to the screen in 1974 with Special first): he changes the sex of his antagonist and makes her a woman, and not just any woman, Rosalind Russell, whom they nicknamed in Hollywood the lady who speaks quickly. And it is precisely this speed that Hawks is looking for, even if it means that the viewer leaves the film as delighted as it is exhausted: he instructs, with each shot, to always go faster, and demonstrates, as always with him, of technical innovation, by placing microphones everywhere on the stage, so that we do not lose a line of brilliant distributed that this extraordinary couple is sent to the figure.
Hawks, the most modern of the classics
But if the match is balanced, it is that Rosalind Russell demanded to rewrite all of his dialogues, to rebalance his character against Cary Grant. Something to rejoice Howard Hawks, who always treats on an equal footing his female characters, strong, autonomous women, who exercise men’s trades while keeping their femininity and do not let themselves be told by the so-called strong sex . Even if calling him a feminist would probably make him laugh, because with him it is above all, if it was to make us laugh, to show the human in all its complexity: fallible and strong, vile and noble , and always surprising.