The Front Page
Image Credit: Academy Film Archive

UK Premiere: The Front Page

classified PG

Manipulating The Message

Film

Please note: This was screened in July 2017

Director
Lewis Milestone
Cast
Pat O'Brien, Adolphe Menjou, Mary Brian
Details
101 mins, 1931, USA

The newspaper film - with its breakneck dialogue, hardboiled characters and rampant cynicism - was born when Howard Hughes hired Lewis Milestone (All Quiet on the Western Front) to direct this classic (and perhaps the earliest) screwball comedy.

It follows the misadventures of Hildy Johnson (Pat O'Brien), a tabloid reporter trying to get out of the newspaper game and escape to New York with his fiancee just as the story of a lifetime lands in his lap. Hildy's editor Walter Burns (Adolphe Menjou) tries to lure him back with the chance to cover a sensational execution, but when the pair stumble across the now-escaped (and bewildered) accused murderer, they put him into hiding. Can they keep his whereabouts secret long enough in order to get the scoop?

This hilarious Broadway smash would be made into multiple film versions (including Howard Hawk's His Girl Friday and Billy Wilder's version) but this, Milestone's original, remains the high-water mark.

Restored in 2016 by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation. Restoration funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation. Elements for this restoration provided by The Howard Hughes Corporation and by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, College of Fine Arts' Department of Film and its Howard Hughes Collection at the Academy Film Archive.