The Front Page (1931)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Media Satire, Workplace Comedy  |   Release Date - Apr 4, 1931 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 101 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Long unavailable due to a couple of highly successful remakes, the original screen version of Ben Hecht's and Charles MacArthur's 1928 Broadway hit remains perhaps the most faithful to it theatrical origins -- although, as an inside joke, several character names were altered to reflect the change in medium, e.g. "George Kid Cukor" and "Judge Mankiewicz." But Walter Burns (Adolphe Menjou) is still attempting to keep star reporter Hildy Johnson (Pat O'Brien) from leaving his place at the paper in favor of marrying the upwardly mobile Peggy Grant (Mary Brian). And poor Earl Williams (George E. Stone's), whose upcoming hanging drives the plot, is still more or less ignored while the tough reporters crack wise. The overlapping lines are much in evidence here and obviously not the invention of Howard Hawks, whose gender-switch remake His Girl Friday (1941) may be faster but not nearly as gritty. Menjou, who actually fits his bombastic role better than perhaps expected, was actually a last minute replacement when the original choice, Louis Wolheim, suddenly died. Menjou went on to win an Academy Award nomination for his efforts. Producer Howard Hughes drew mightily from the Warner Bros. stock company and every role, no matter how small, is filled with such notorious scene stealers as Edward Everett Horton as the prissy Bensinger; Clarence H. Wilson as the inane sheriff, and Mae Clarke as the self-sacrificing streetwalker Molly Malloy. In fact; Miss Clarke conveys the character's desperation skillfully. According to Mary Brian, The Front Page was this charming actress' favorite film.