Manipulating The Message

UK Premiere: The Front Page PG

The Front Page

Image Credit: Academy Film Archive

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.

With an introduction by critic and programmer Tara Judah and Tom Vincent, film archivist at Aardman Animations plus a screening of a short documentary about the restoration (5mins)