Notes on His Girl Friday

  • I love your take on the hat’s journey from couture to cap. I love her coat. I loved her interview with poor Earl. “Production for use.” Interesting take on journalism too—they clearly have no problem becoming part of the story.
  • Cary Grant’s character is pretty repellent. His saving grace seems to be that he’s exceptionally funny and immensely active. Funny how attractive that combination can be, and how completely it overcomes his other shortcomings.
  • I think the title refers to Defoe’s Man Friday in Robinson Crusoe—a “native” from a neighboring island with ability and smarts who keeps Crusoe alive (after Crusoe helps deliver him from being cannibalized by his own people).
  • The movie’s a remake of an older movie called Front Page. Hildy should have been a guy. It was only when Howard Hawks’ secretary read the lines that he decided to cast the character as a woman. I think this might explain why it’s such a great part.
  • Molly Malloy doesn’t die—they say several times that she’s moving. But this doesn’t change the fact that no one seems to much mind her attempted suicide. I guess we’re supposed to take that opening caption seriously: “It all happened in the “dark ages” of the newspaper game – – when to a reporter “getting that story” justified anything short of murder.” Were you sorry you never got to hear Hildy’s story? I was. I wonder whether Molly’s attempt would have entered into it.
  • Why, in the name of all that’s holy, does Cary Grant tap the rolltop desk three times? I’ve watched it twice and I still don’t get it. Did he screw up, or did he want Earl to show himself?
  • He did have the whole planned out. He gave Louie directions to pay her back with counterfeit money. So he made sure Bruce would be in jail.
  • The luggage she’s carrying at the end is hers. My take is that, although at the beginning she objects to the fact that he’s not a conventional gentleman–he won’t invite her to sit down, she has to ask him for a cigarette, then for a light, then tell him not to walk ahead of her, etc.—she’s decided by the end that he offers her access to something she likes better. Makes sense, I guess. She’s not much of a gentleman herself; seems totally unperturbed by the journalists’ abuse of Molly.
  • I do find it weird that she’s so attracted to the idea of being a housewife. Doesn’t seem quite right. It’s interesting, though, that she lets slip, while typing out her story and distractedly fighting with Bruce, that she’s glad he’s going if he thought she was going to be some suburban wife and he was going to try to change her.
  • After Molly leaves the first time the journalists are totally deflated and uninterested in their poker game. They’re ashamed of themselves. This scene seemed both ugly and right.
  • I totally missed the rum thing. And yes, the mock turtle line is spectacular.


That Peaky Cap, and Then Some

I just watched the 30 Rock episode where Tracy’s little league team runs parallel to Iraq.  It was so good, my heart almost flipped out of my chest.  This happens especially with television.  TV, especially sitcoms, can blindside me with delight because I have no expectation for them to actually enthrall me.  Perhaps my little neuron receptors are particularly slutty and at ease when watching TV, but, my my, the thrills can be so lovely.

Onto other delights: Rosalind Russell! I watched His Girl Friday at your bidding, and was charmed by her hat, her shoes, and her.  On a list of my favorite things, Rosalind Russell is up there with Pika Pika and cucumber sandwiches.  Have you seen Auntie Mame? If not, run to it.  The costumes alone can save a life with their cheer.

As with any of our recent Netflix/Nitpicks, I have some thoughts:

  1. Is it at all an issue that Cary Grant makes her carry all the luggage at the end?
  2. Does Grant want her back only because she is beyond his control?  He seems sincere when he tells her to run to her fiance on the train, and he seems genuinely surprised by the counterfeit money.  She assumes it was all part of his grand plan.  Was it?
  3. I especially wonder this because Grant is so two-faced throughout the movie.  He constantly lies to people.  Why not her?
  4. I appreciate how fully she is shown to enjoy her work in the movie.  Cary Grant seems less of a loss than her job. He seems to know this himself.  Everybody agrees she is a fantastic writer, and we also get to see her skills as she interviews, tackles, and buys info.  She is fully alive in those scenes, and it is wonderful to see it onscreen.  She runs down a prison guard.  It’s great!
  5. A woman jumps out a window.  A surprisingly well developed character commits suicide in response to the unjust media.  It is a grave scene for such a light comedy.  The death seems to have no effect on Grant or Russell.  They are laughing at the end.  Even the convict in the desk, Williams, doesn’t seem too shook up about the suicide.
  6. Best line, in my opinion: “Get back in there, you great mock turtle!” Grant says this to Williams when he is hiding in the roll top desk.
  7. The woman who jumps out the window…the did a great job of dressing her so you kinda wondered what kind of girl she was for asking as stranger up to her room.  Her boobs seemed very shiny.
  8. Why is it called His Gal Friday? The entire movie takes place in one day…was it a Friday? Or, a Thursday? She just doesn’t seem like she was ever the personal assistant/secretary type.
  9. If we know one thing from movies, it is that people who sell insurance are safe, conservative, and dull (thus, Along Came Polly).  Also, one should also never marry somebody who doesn’t want rum in their coffee at lunch if everybody else at the table is having it (that scene particularly reminded me of Oceans 11).
  10. That great joke about them sleeping together in the hotel when they were hiding out on some other story.  She mentions the case was probably illegal, and he shoots back something like “that wasn’t the only thing.”  Salty, salty.

A captivating movie, with more plot than I expected.  I also like how the hat she is wearing throughout moves from a high fashion piece to floppy reporter gear by the end.

Hooray for Netflix wonders.  Hooray for Rosalind Russell and her beautiful legs and sharp wit.  Hooray for stories about women who are really really good at what they do.

And hooray for the blessings of television when they come along,