Watch His Girl Friday, Howard Hawks’ Classic Screwball Comedy Starring Cary Grant, Free Online

The movies and jour­nal­ism have had a long rela­tion­ship in Amer­i­ca, not least because, in Hol­ly­wood’s hey­day, so many screen­writ­ers began their careers in news­rooms. The pro­lif­ic Ben Hecht, now known as “the Shake­speare of Hol­ly­wood,” start­ed off as a reporter at the Chica­go Jour­nal. His col­lab­o­ra­tor Charles MacArthur first worked over at the Chica­go Tri­bune. They, along with son of the film indus­try Charles Led­er­er, co-wrote His Girl Fri­day, the clas­sic 1940 screw­ball com­e­dy of steely sto­ry-chas­ing and elab­o­rate roman­tic intrigue at The Morn­ing Post. Since the film fell into the pub­lic domain in 1968 — and this being Fri­day, after all — why not get a shot of Cary Grant, Ros­alind Rus­sell, and Howard Hawks free online today?

His Girl Fri­day stands out for many rea­sons, espe­cial­ly by refus­ing, unlike many Hol­ly­wood pic­tures writ­ten by for­mer news­pa­per­men, to instinc­tive­ly glo­ri­fy jour­nal­ism, a mis­take more recent films about the news still make. As the New York­er’s Antho­ny Lane wrote about Shat­tered Glass, Bil­ly Ray’s drama­ti­za­tion of the fall of infa­mous New Repub­lic fab­ri­ca­tor Stephen Glass, “Glass may be a rot­ten apple in the bar­rel, but the con­tention of Ray’s film is that the bar­rel itself, the noble call­ing of the reporter, is as stur­dy and as pol­ished as ever. Give me a break. On sec­ond thought, give me His Girl Fri­day. Five min­utes of Howard Hawks’s speedy and cyn­i­cal view of hacks in sharp suits, as they them­selves bend the world to fit the shape of their own cyn­i­cism, is a more brac­ing sight than nine­ty-four min­utes of Stephen Glass and his trag­ic slide from grace.”

His Girl Fri­day appears in our col­lec­tion of 535 Free Movies Online.

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Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Comments (4)
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  • Scott Clausen says:

    A great movie, one of my all-time favorites.

  • jktmovie88 says:

    thanks alot ;)

  • Larry Gensch says:

    The orig­i­nal sto­ry for this movie was the 1928 Broad­way play, “The Front Page,” which has see at least three revivals since then. “His Girl Fri­day” was an adap­ta­tion of this sto­ry with Hildy being played as a woman and roman­tic inter­est for Wal­ter, adding addi­tion­al com­ic sit­u­a­tions. In addi­tion to the Broad­way plays, the sto­ry has been adapt­ed in media many times (films, radio, and tele­vi­sion), with some list­ed below:

    * The Front Page (1931, film) — Adolphe Men­jou (Wal­ter), Pat O’Brien (Hildy)
    * His Girl Fri­day (1940, film) — Cary Grant (Wal­ter), Ros­alind Rus­sel (Hildy)
    * The Front Page (1945, TV anthol­o­gy pre­sen­ta­tion) — Matt Crow­ley (Wal­ter), Vin­ton Hay­worth (HIldy)
    * The Front Page (1948, TV movie) — Hen­ry Gilbert (Wal­ter), Sid­ney James (HIldy)
    * The Front Page (1948, Radio play) — William Con­rad (Wal­ter), Dick Pow­ell (Hildy)
    * The Front Page (1949–1950, TV Series) — John Daly (Wal­ter), Mark Roberts (Hildy)
    * The Front Page (1970, TV movie) — Robert Ryan (Wal­ter), George Griz­zard (Hildy)
    * The Front Page (1974, film) — Wal­ter Matthau (Wal­ter), Jack Lem­mon (Hildy)
    * Switch­ing Chan­nels (1988, film) — Burt Reynolds (Wal­ter), Kath­leen Turn­er (Hildy)

    His Girl Fri­day in 1940, along with Switch­ing Chan­nels in 1988, were two adap­ta­tions that did­n’t use the “Front Page” mon­ick­er, and both fea­tured Hildy as a woman and a roman­tic inter­est for Wal­ter.

    In addi­tion, a musi­cal play, “Windy City” was staged in Lon­don with Anton Rogers (Wal­ter) and Den­nis Water­man (Hildy) and ran for 250 per­for­mances.

    Dur­ing this quar­an­tine, it would be inter­est­ing if some stream­ing ser­vice could set up an anthol­o­gy of the many incar­na­tions of this sto­ry (and the two series based on it) and offer some or all of them for binge watch­ers…!

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