His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday Literary Elements


Howard Hawks

Leading Actors/Actresses

Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell

Supporting Actors/Actresses

Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart, Clarence Kolb, Billy Gilbert


Screwball Comedy/Romance




Date of Release

January 11, 1940


Howard Hawks

Setting and Context

New York City in the 1930s

Narrator and Point of View

There is no narrator and the point of view is omniscient, although the audience spends most of the movie following Hildy Johnson

Tone and Mood

Fast-paced, witty, sophisticated, mad-cap, comedic, farcical, suspenseful

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: Hildy Johnson, Antagonist: Walter Burns in some ways, but really, The Mayor

Major Conflict

There are two conflicts. One is that Hildy Johnson wants to leave the newspaper business behind and get married to Bruce in Albany, and Walter arranges a series of events and manipulations to prevent her from doing so. The other is that the mayor is trying to get an innocent man executed for the sake of an upcoming election, and Hildy and Walter must work together to get the biggest story for the newspaper they both work for. At certain points, these conflicts become intertwined.


The climax occurs when Earl Williams reveals that he is hiding in the desk and he is taken into custody.


A number of events are foreshadowed. When Walter sends Louie to deliver counterfeit money to Hildy, the viewer suspects that this will resurface to comic effect later. Also, when Walter taps on the desk three times and tells Earl Williams that that is his signal, this clues us in to the fact that he will give the signal later, although we do not assume that it will be a mistake.


Innovations in Filming or Lighting or Camera Techniques

The sound mixing for the film, the fact that much of the dialogue overlapped and was mixed to create a polyphonic effect, was innovative at the time.


Livingstone and Stanley


Hildy is adamant that she wants to get married and doesn't want to return to her job at the paper, yet she is endlessly enlivened and excited by her tasks as a journalist, and can barely think of Bruce while she is writing.


Bruce and Walter aren't so much parallels as foils and contrasts of one another. Where Bruce is dull but reliable, Walter is smooth but inconsistent.