His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday His Girl Friday: A Quintessential Newspaper Movie

His Girl Friday is most commonly categorized as a "romantic comedy" or a "screwball comedy." But another important genre that it fits into is movies about journalism and the newspaper business. Since His Girl Friday's release in 1940, countless films have been made about this very topic, and it has become something of its own genre in American cinema. Indeed, the following year, one of the most beloved American films of all time, Citizen Kane, about a mysterious reporter, was released. The pressroom is a dynamic and exciting setting for any narrative, filled with ups and downs, situations prime for suspense, comedy, drama, disappointment, and victory. His Girl Friday is a prototypical example of the American journalism movie, as indeed, its two romantic leads are drawn together by their shared zeal for the news, and their frenetic pursuit of the story at all costs.

In a Washington Post article that interviewed real American journalists about their favorite journalism films, Jill Abramson, former executive editor at The New York Times and writer for The Guardian, listed His Girl Friday as her pick. She writes, "The 1940 movie will make any grizzled reporter wistful for the days when press rooms were crowded with reporters from competing local papers, pre-TV and pre-Internet disruption." Indeed, the film contrasts with the way that news cycles work nowadays with feeds, social media, and endless television broadcasts, and it is its old-fashioned allure that makes it such a classic. Additionally, His Girl Friday depicts the world of journalism as scrappy, witty, and a little scandalous. Hildy and Walter are the perfect match not only because of their shared love of the news, but because they both eschew ethics and propriety when the right story comes into view. Abramson writes, "The sumptuous black and white also made me nostalgic for smoking and sex in the newsroom. I know that’s politically incorrect, but the news business has always been a magnet for people who are drawn to bad habits."

Film goers are drawn to stories about the news. Film critic Richard Brody cites the release of Citizen Kane as the birth of modern cinema, and makes his own guesses about why films about journalism are so appealing in his New Yorker article, "Newspaper Movies." He writes, "There’s something inherently cinematic about an investigation, which comes with its built-in disjunction between story and plot—between the facts being tracked down and the process of tracking them down—which is why movies about journalists abound in times of overt aesthetic modernity." Perhaps it is this layering of narratives and events, which heightens the suspense at the core of a film, that makes His Girl Friday such a memorable classic and such a crowd-pleaser.