Have the movies ever talked this quickly, before or since?
Rosalind Russell delivers a verbal torrent as Hildy Johnson, the crack newspaper reporter trying to escape the clutches of Walter Burns, her workaholic ex-husband and overbearing former editor. Sheâ€™s fleeing to a docile married life in the suburbs, which sounds like a smart move except that Burns is played by Cary Grant. (The new husband-to-be, to make the pictureâ€™s sympathies even clearer, is played by a simpering Ralph Bellamy.)
Bantering at light speed, Russell and Grant are a wonder to behold: they deliver what can only be called effortless precision. Given a hurtling pace by director Howard Hawks, His Girl Friday might just offer the highest laugh-to-minute ratio in film, considering there are jokes in the dialogue, delivery and actorsâ€™ expressions coming at you all at once.
The movie is also â€“ slyly – a landmark feminist picture, especially because it takes Hildyâ€™s independence and professional competence at face value. Her male colleagues hardly bat an eye at her â€œfairerâ€ qualities and the movie never once does. In fact, itâ€™s Hildyâ€™s talent as a reporter â€“ as much, if not more, than her physical beauty â€“ that makes her desirable in the eyes of no less a male paragon than Cary Grant. The title may imply that Hildy is his girl, but there is no doubting that this is her movie.