Happy Sunday! I am hoping that more people will have watched this one than the one last week. Not necessarily just now, but at some point in their lives.
This movie has a very famous and familiar backstory, which I will summarize here just to get it out of the way so no one else feels obligated. The Front Page, hit play, written by Ben Hecht and Charlie Macarthur, two former Chicago newspapermen. Based on their time working for the Chicago Daily News (more Pulitzers than any other paper! Before it went out of business). It’s about a snakey editor who is working all the angles to make sure his star reporter doesn’t get married and quit. Was made into a hit movie, and so on and so forth. Also, small footnote, the success of The Front Page made MacArthur finally feel worthy of proposing to his true love Helen Hayes. Awwwww. And then at a Hollywood party years later they were goofing around and read out some of the scenes with a woman playing the reporter role and something clicked, and they realized “hey! This would work really great as a romance!” And then they made this movie, almost the same script, but turned into a romance.
With the gender flip, we of course get the awesome romance between equals, two fast talking hardbitten types, a female character who gets to be smart and tough and not as limited as female characters usually are. But let’s have a moment for the third leg of the triangle! Poor Ralph Bellamy being all sappy and sentimental and soft like a girl.
It’s a Howard Hawks movie, Howard Hawks had a Thing for aggressive women. All his movies have these really tough woman who insult the hero and that turns them on, and then they end up being neurotic and “needing” the man and pursuing him. Honestly, in some of his films it starts to feel a bit creepy, like I am watching some very specific fetish play out. But in this movie, not so much! I think basing it on an established play works really well in that way, it doesn’t feel Hawksian so much as Hechtian.
Hmm. Now that I think about it, this is one of those films where the auteur theory breaks down. There’s the Hecht and Macarthur script, the Hawks direction, and also Cary Grant just soaring in his performance. And Rosalind Russell, who was not your typical Hollywood actress. She wasn’t even really a “Hollywood” actress, she was more of a stage actress. She was older too, well into her 30s if not more so, very confident in herself and her performing. She wasn’t going to play some neurotic mean girl type, she was going to play someone who was tough and adult and more than equal to her man.
Okay, with all that background out of the way, Things to Discuss:
- Is Rosalind’s zig zag suit or her pinstripe suit better?
2. Does the film end up being pro-press, anti-press, or neutral press?
3. How many times did you have to watch it before you caught all the dialogue?
4. Do you think Rosalind ever really wanted to marry Ralph Bellamy or was it, on some subconscious level, just a way to go back to Cary Grant with her pride intact?
5. Will Cary Grant be a better husband? Or same?