25. His Girl Friday
directed by Howard Hawks
The bantering romantic comedy that all subsequent bantering romantic comedies aspire to be. Based on Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s play The Front Page, Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday is a paragon of most of the qualities people associate with Hollywood’s golden age: whip-smart dialogue; a screenplay boiling over with drama and romance; and most of all, good old-fashioned star power. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell are so gorgeous, so fiercely intelligent, and so powerfully charismatic that it’s never really in question whether Russell’s ace reporter Hildy will reunite with Grant or marry her new beau Bruce, a kind but irredeemably basic insurance salesman. And while the film’s death-row-drama plot is certainly important – it gives Grant and Russell’s characters a chance to show what makes them great at their jobs, and lends the film just enough seriousness to keep it from floating away on a cloud of sparkling dialogue – it’s ultimately secondary to the sheer spectacle of Grant and Russell’s awesomeness. Sorry, Bruce, you’re just not on their level. No one is.