- Run Time: 1 hours, 40 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Released: January 24, 2012
- Originally Released: 1931
- Label: American Pop Classics
- Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
Performers, Cast and Crew:
The first screen version of Hecht and McArthur's classic comedy about Chicago newspapermen in the 1920s, THE FRONT PAGE stars Pat O'Brien as ace reporter Hildy Johnson. On the verge of getting married and leaving the profession, Johnson is hooked in to do one last story for his scheming editor Walter Burns (Adolph Menjou). When Clarence Williams (George E. Stone), an anarchist convicted of murder and scheduled for imminent execution, escapes, Johnson stumbles across the convict and hides him from the corrupt sheriff (Clarence H. Wilson) in order to get the scoop on the story.
Although generally less well known than Hawks' HIS GIRL FRIDAY, Lewis Milestone's adaptation of the Hecht-MacArthur classic remains faithful to the play's conception of Hildy Johnson as a man's role. Set among wisecracking newspapermen in 1920s Chicago, the film stars Pat O'Brien as Hildy Johnson, the star reporter who has decided to marry Peggy Grant (Mary Brian) and leave the profession. However, his conniving editor Walter Burns (Adolph Menjou), who is willing to do anything to keep him at the paper, baits him with a big story. An anarchist, Clarence Williams (George E. Stone), who is slated to be executed for the murder of a policeman, has broken out of prison. When the escaped prisoner suddenly turns up in the prison press room, Johnson hides him in a rolltop desk, until he's able to get an interview. Meanwhile, the corrupt Sheriff Hartman (Clarence C. Wilson) and mayor (James Gordon) are hoping to hide the news that Williams' sentence has been commuted until after the election. This is an excellent, extremely funny film, with fine performances from O'Brien and Menjou, and, given pre-code movie standards, is generally more faithful to the rawness and toughness of the original play.
Essential Cinema |
- Theatrical release: April 4, 1931.
- THE FRONT PAGE is the first screen version of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's play of the same name. The film was remade as HIS GIRL FRIDAY in 1940 and again as THE FRONT PAGE, starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, in 1971.