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FLICK PICKS: Rosalind Russell month starts with 'His Girl Friday'
June 30, 2008  | By Diane Werts
his girl friday.jpgIt's great enough seeing a prime-time screening of the 1940 Cary Grant-Rosalind Russell screwball delight His Girl Friday (Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies). But this zippy newspaper tale/knockabout romance is only the first of 36 Russell films airing Wednesdays throughout July in TCM's Star of the Month salute. And it's followed this first night by Russell's classic 1939 catfight comedy The Women (Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET, TCM). Watch the trailers here and here.

Russell's timeless His Girl Friday turn showcases her rare gift of oozing brains, wit and sex appeal simultaneously. Not to mention independence. Her Hildy Johnson character, a reporter manipulated by ruthless tabloid editor Walter Burns, had been created as a man in the Broadway play The Front Page by scrappy old-time reporters Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. (The original 1931 filming of The Front Page happily airs on TCM this Wednesday afternoon at 12:30 ET for quick comparison.)

The gender switch might have been strained in that era of flighty females -- think of Katharine Hepburn's ditzy heiress in the delightful-anyway Bringing Up Baby -- but the same director, Howard Hawks, treats Russell pretty much like one of the guys here. She's an ace reporter and smart cookie, totally accepted in her profession -- watch her skillfilly work the male-dominated city hall press room where much of the action takes place.

By presenting her as such a ball of fire (a later Hawks film title, with the equally gutsy Barbara Stanwyck), His Girl Friday adds a whole 'nother angle to the already driven storyline. Grant and Russell are matching wits professionally, yes, and personally, as the best-pal guys of The Front Page had -- but also romantically, since they're portrayed here as husband and ex-wife. Grant will stop at nothing to get job-quitting about-to-wed-again Russell back with him in more ways than one.

The rest of the month ranges through the rest of Russell's career, from such early outings as 1935's Clark Gable starrer China Seas (July 15/16 at 2:30 a.m. ET), to her 1960s stern-nun run in The Trouble With Angels and its sequel (July 29/30 and 1 and 3 a.m. ET, all on TCM). Among the must-see titles: the double feature of two Broadway adaptations, 1958's Auntie Mame and 1962's Gypsy (July 29 at 8 and 10:30 p.m. ET, TCM).

There's much more about Russell and her films at TCM's Star of the Month page. Watch a wide selection of Russell trailers and movie clips (great His Girl Friday stuff!) here.


1 Comment


Toby OB said:

The Rosalind Russell film I'm anxious to see again is "The Velvet Touch" on July 22nd. Even though Russell is fantastic in this movie, it's for Sydney Greenstreet that I want to see it. The way he plays police detective Captain Danbury, I could almost believe he had been the mentor for Lt. Columbo when he was still a NYC cop.

As added reminders of the 'Columbo'-like investigation, Mike Lally appears in the film as a waiter. He played many small roles in 'Columbo'. And the line "Just one more thing" even gets said - although by the suspect, not the detective......

I have this on video, but I wish they'd release it on DVD!

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