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His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday(1940)

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The onscreen credits of the film contain the following written prologue: "It all happened in the "Dark Ages" of the newspaper game-when a reporter "getting the story" justified anything short of murder. Incidentally, you will see in this picture no resemblance to the men and women of the press today. Ready? Well, once upon a time-- " According to an August 1939 news item in Hollywood Reporter, production on the film was postponed because Irene Dunne, who was originally slated to play the role of Hildy Johnson, felt the role was too small and insisted that the writers rewrite her part. Another news item in Hollywood Reporter notes that Claudette Colbert, Jean Arthur and Joan Crawford were also considered for the role. Modern sources add that Jean Arthur was suspended for refusing the part. In a modern interview, director Howard Hawks stated that he conceived the idea of changing the character of Hildy Johnson from a man, as he is written in the play, to a woman when he heard Hildy's lines read by a woman. According to Hawks, he was trying to prove that the Front Page contained the finest modern dialogue ever written, and he began to read the part of Walter and asked a woman to read Hildy's part. Realizing then that the dialogue worked better between a woman and a man than between two men, Hawks called up writer Ben Hecht and suggested changing Hildy's character to a woman. Hawks also noted that the fast pace of the film was created by overlapping the actors' dialogue and making them talk fast. In an interview, Ralph Bellamy said that Cary Grant ad libbed the line in which Grant's character, "Walter Burns," describes his character, "Bruce Baldwin" as looking like "Ralph Bellamy." Grant's real name, Archie Leech, was also used in the film. For other films based on the Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur play, see entry above for The Front Page. The 1988 film Switching Channels, starring Burt Reynolds and Kathleen Turner and directed by Ted Kotcheff, was the only other male/female version of the play.