A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while there's no sex or bad language in His Girl Friday, you do see a character jump out the window to her death and many characters pull guns on one another. There's also a considerable amount of underhanded behavior. For instance, Walter has Bruce arrested twice, gives him counterfeit money, and plans to rig the election with biased reporting.
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What's the story?
HIS GIRL FRIDAY starts by warning viewers that they are about to see underhanded behavior by reporters willing to do "anything short of murder" to get their story. But in this screwball movie, that take-no-prisoners approach also applies to romance. Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) is a star reporter -- one of the best at the paper, if also a "girl reporter" -- but she's chucking it all to have a normal life with her new beau. Bruce (Ralph Bellamy) is a sweet, solid, secure insurance man who loves Hildy with all his heart -- quite the contrast to Hildy's ex, the newspaper editor Walter (Cary Grant), whom Hildy drolly reports took her for granted and never gave her the attention she needed. Not content to lose both his star reporter and the love of his life, Walter slyly appeals to her conscience when he asks her to do one last story -- one that could save the life of a man set to be executed the next morning. Hildy writes a great story, re-affirming her passion for both journalism and Walter, but how does she balance both? And, the film seems to ask, does she really want someone who will love her in the way that she wants, or does she want the excitement -- and disappointment -- of a man who is incapable of putting her first?
Is it any good?
Aside from the big, murky questions that it brings up, this is a delightful, fast-paced movie. Unlike most romantic comedies today, neither Hildy nor Walter is a sentimental drip. They are equally matched. For every snarky comment Walter makes ("There's been a lamp burning in the window for you -- come, sit here," Walter says, gesturing at his lap), Hildy gives one better ("Oh, I jumped out that window long ago.").
Hildy's a revelation, both for 1940, when the movie was released, and today when movie messages about women giving up their aspirations for romance persist (My Best Friend's Wedding, Sweet Home Alabama). Deep into the frenzy of writing her article, Bruce begs Hildy to come away with him. But she's determined: "You want me, Bruce? You've got to take me as I am." For that, you can almost forgive the choice Hildy has to make and the overflowing sexism of everyone around her.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the choices Hildy had to make in His Girl Friday: Either be a "normal person" and have a family or be a "newspaperman" and have a career. How has it changed today and how is it still similar?
Is Hildy a strong role model? How does she compare to female characters in modern romantic comedies?
How does bias come into play in the movie and in journalism? Is there still bias in the media today?
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