“His Girl Friday” — the Ultimate Laughter Free-for-All

About a week ago, I visited my friend’s house so he could help me transfer my blog to this new website, and help with the automatic forwarding of the link. Well, let’s just say we got distracted. By what? Classic movies, of course! Now, I would have to say that this friend is not a classic movie lover. In fact, I had to introduce him to a couple. There is one he watched on his own (The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland), and I applaud him for that. But on this day, there were some problems with the blog and it was very uninteresting, and I said, “I really feel like watching The Thin Man,” so we got it and watched it. Then I really wanted to see His Girl Friday because, well… let’s face it, I hadn’t seen a Rosalind Russell movie in quite a while! (By the way, I had seen my favorite of hers, Auntie Mame, about a month or so ago with—yes, that’s right—the same friend!)

His Girl Friday (1940)
His Girl Friday (1940)

This always happens to me when I start watching His Girl Friday—I become absolutely enthralled and racked with giggles many times throughout. And after I watch it, I think, “Why isn’t this my favorite movie?” Well, I have to say that once I see Auntie Mame again, I know exactly why it’s my favorite. But anyway, His Girl Friday is probably my second favorite Roz movie, even though I adore her in Gypsy soo much!

Now, you may ask yourself… why is it my second favorite? Let’s start with Roz’s brilliant comic timing and even more brilliantly fast, witty repartee. We cannot give her all the credit on these lines because she didn’t write them. However, her delivery of those lines is so brilliant that I almost want to give her all of the credit.

rosalind russell in his girl friday
His Girl Friday

One interesting tidbit about the making of this film is that Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell liked to work with ad libbing. The way they worked was so out of ordinary, but so comically wonderful. They would ad lib many of the lines, especially Cary Grant. For example, he uses the name “Archie Leach” at the end of the movie, which is Cary’s birth name. Another example is when a woman asks him “What does he look like?” and he describes Ralph Bellamy’s character Bruce as “looking like that Ralph Bellamy from the movies,” which makes it twice as hilarious. Probably my favorite known ad lib is in the beginning scene in which Hildy (Rosalind Russell) says, “Why, you…!” and improvised throwing her handbag at him, which caused Cary to ad lib “You used to pitch better than that!” after he suddenly ducked.

cary grant, rosalind russell, ralph bellamy
Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, and Ralph Bellamy

Needless to say, this marvelous piece of art that is the movie His Girl Friday purely belongs to Rosalind alone (well, almost). This is because she is in the movie from beginning to end, delivers the most lines (so many, you’d think it was longer than an hour and 30 minutes), almost to the point where you don’t even notice Cary is gone for a good part of the middle of the movie. Well, some of us who are in love with him may notice 😉 And Roz didn’t just come upon this movie by accident.

When Roz started out in the 1930s, she was brought to Hollywood as a “vamp” type, which is absurd when you think of what her body of work became. She would often play these “teddibly” rich, “teddibly” English, her-nose-high-in-the-air types. Then along came The Women in 1939. This was a part Roz wanted so badly to sink her teeth into. However, she had to audition time and time again before they realized she was perfect for the part of Sylvia Fowler, that no-good gossip hound who famously bit Paulette Goddard’s leg in the second half of the film. If it weren’t for this sudden departure into physical comedy, Roz would most likely never have done the part she is so famous for, Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday. So we have to thank The Women for a lot of what Roz has given us.

rosalind russell
Rosalind Russell in The Women

In fact, The Women was the first movie in which I really noticed Rosalind Russell for the first time. I mean, her character was the epitome of insanity (with a comic touch) and who could not notice someone like that? And the rest is history…

Please purchase (if you have not already) or watch His Girl Friday on Turner Classic Movies when you get the chance… this movie never disappoints! Take it from me. I have seen it dozens of times and you can just hear the peals of laughter down the hall…

Toodles, all! <3

P.S. This is an ad I made for the site (it’s really a PhotoShop assignment, but hey, why not?)

ad for rozrussell.com

4 thoughts on ““His Girl Friday” — the Ultimate Laughter Free-for-All”

  1. Loved this Desiree! Very well done and I agree with you on all points, especially that Roz is this movie! She carries it from beginning to end and like you said Cary is gone for a good portion of it but Roz is still doing her thing! Love this movie! and love your well written post about it!

    1. This is such a THOUGHTFUL comment! You have no idea how much I appreciate your words, Monty! It just makes me so happy to know that people read my posts and that they LIKE them! Thank you again!!! His Girl Friday is amazing! 😉

  2. Great Post! this has to be one of my fav Roz Russell films, a wonderful, funny, fast paced thrill ride with great performance on all parts. I recently tried watching the ‘Front Page’ with Jack Lemmon, and I couldn’t make it through, I just kept thinking I wish I was watching ‘His Girl Friday’.

    1. Thank you so much, Alyssa! It is just comedic brilliance… I also have seen The Front Page. Although I absolutely LOVE Jack Lemmon, that movie is NOT good!

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