His Girl Friday
Where: The Belcourt
When: 7 p.m. Mon., Jan. 24
If you tell me, “I’ve seen this on TV,” I will seal you up in a rolltop desk like Cary Grant’s conniving editor Walter Burns and shoot it full of holes. Seeing Howard Hawks’ voracious newsroom farce in a theater means the difference between joining 200 other people in convulsive laughter and watching alone bleary-eyed in the late-morning hours between Botox infomercials. Besides, at some point in his life everyone should see Cary Grant on the big screen. It’s like encountering the buzzing enormity of a Jackson Pollock canvas after you’ve only seen a postcard.
Hawks and screenwriter Charles Lederer run with the genius idea of transforming the Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur warhorse The Front Page into breakneck romantic comedy, with the con-is-on rapport between Burns and star reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell in the play’s male role) wound tight with sexual tension. Here words are bullets and everyone in the room has a machine gun, and by the second hour the rat-a-tat delivery has you laughing at almost every syllable. My brother and I used to go around imitating the way Grant brushes off a nuisance of a poet, smacking every other syllable like gum bubbles: “Tell him his poetry stinks and kick him down the stairs!”
It’s the latest in The Belcourt’s weekend series of screen romances. Take a date to see this, fellas, and if she laughs as hard as you do, get down on bended knee in the lobby and propose.