This third film version of the 1928 Ben Hecht/Charlie MacArthur Broadway hit The Front Page was the first one permitted to utilize all the salty profanities in the original play. Director Billy Wilder cast his two favorite leading men, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, as ace reporter Hildy Johnson and ruthless newspaper editor Walter Burns, respectively. The plot of the Hecht/MacArthur play remains intact: Burns pulls every underhanded game in the book to prevent Johnson from leaving his Chicago paper to get married, and in so doing the two journalists uncover a cesspool of political corruption, centered around the planned execution of anarchist Earl Williams (Austin Pendleton). Carol Burnett has an extended cameo as Williams' tart girlfriend, Mollie Malloy. The Front Page was remade for a fourth time in 1988 as Switching Channels.
by Hal Erickson synopsis