His Girl Friday Movie Poster Image

His Girl Friday

(i)

 

Sassy screwball classic with a feminist twist.
  • Review Date: August 6, 2007
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1940
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A lot of underhanded behavior, including lying, passing counterfeit money, stealing, gambling, bribery, and conniving. There's also considerable sexism: When a woman walks into the newsroom, one of the reporters says, "Take off your shirt." On the plus side, Hildy is a strong female role model, showing tenacity, brains, and compassion.

Violence

A surprising amount of violence, including a woman jumping from a window. We see her face-down on the pavement below. Gunshots are aimed at a press room. Many characters aim guns at one another. Characters threaten to hurt one another, saying things like "I'm going to kick you in the teeth."

Sex

Some gazing into eyes, but that's it.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Everyone smokes cigarettes and Hildy and Walter take their coffee with rum.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while there's no sex or bad language in this film, 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.

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?

QUALITY

Aside from the big questions, HIS GIRL FRIDAY 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the choices Hildy had to make: 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 18, 1940
DVD release date:November 21, 2001
Cast:Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy, Rosalind Russell
Director:Howard Hawks
Studio:Sony Pictures
Genre:Classic
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of His Girl Friday was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 17 years old Written by_____________ August 29, 2015
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 10 years old August 18, 2013

Hildy the Girl Reporter

His Girl Friday is about a woman reporter named Hildy. She is about to quit working for her ex-husband, and get re-married. Walter (her ex-husband) tries to stop Hildy from going to Albany, where she will get married. I thought it would be really boring because it’s black and white, but it has extremely funny conversations. And it only has one scary bit in the whole thing. The only thing I didn’t like was when the lady threw her self out of the window.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byWitzelsucht February 19, 2013

Fast-patter dialogue may be too fast for kids to appreciate

This movie lives on its fast-patter dialogue and has limited action. The chief challenge with the dialogue is that it may be too fast for younger kids to understand and appreciate. Also, the core of the story (a man is about to be hanged for murder, no one questions he committed the murder, yet the reporters are trying to get him a reprieve) may be confusing for many kids.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?