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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Howard Hawks 
U.S. 1940

The second screen version of the Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur play The Front Page, His Girl Friday changed hard-driving newspaper reporter Hildy Johnson from a man to a woman, transforming the story into a scintillating battle of the sexes. Rosalind Russell plays Hildy, about to foresake journalism for marriage to cloddish Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy). Cary Grant plays Walter Burns, Hildy's editor and ex-husband, who feigns happiness about her impending marriage as a ploy to win her back. The ace up Walter's sleeve is a late-breaking news story concerning the impending execution of anarchist Earl Williams (John Qualen), a blatant example of political chicanery that Hildy can't pass up. The story gets hotter when Williams escapes and is hidden from the cops by Hildy and Walter--right in the prison pressroom. His Girl Friday may well be the fastest comedy of the 1930s, with kaleidoscope action, instantaneous plot twists, and overlapping dialogue. And if you listen closely, you'll hear a couple of "in" jokes, one concerning Cary Grant's real name (Archie Leach), and another poking fun at Ralph Bellamy's patented "poor sap" screen image. Subsequent versions of The Front Page included Billy Wilder's 1974 adaptation, which restored Hildy Johnson's manhood in the form of Jack Lemmon, and 1988's Switching Channels, which cast Burt Reynolds in the Walter Burns role and Kathleen Turner as the Hildy Johnson counterpart.

***

One of the fastest, funniest, and most quotable films ever made, His Girl Friday stars Rosalind Russell as reporter Hildy Johnson, a standout among cinema’s powerful women. Hildy is matched in force only by her conniving but charismatic editor and ex-husband, Walter Burns (played by the peerless Cary Grant), who dangles the chance for her to scoop her fellow news writers with the story of an impending execution in order to keep her from hopping the train that’s supposed to take her to Albany and a new life as a housewife. When adapting Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s smash hit play The Front Page, director Howard Hawks had the inspired idea of turning star reporter Hildy Johnson into a woman, and the result is an immortal mix of hard-boiled newsroom setting with ebullient remarriage comedy. Also presented here is a brand-new restoration of the 1931 film The Front Page, Lewis Milestone’s famous pre-Code adaptation of the same material.

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Comparison:

Columbia Tri-Star - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Columbia Tri-Star (UK) - Region 2/4/5 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Ole of DVDBasen for the R2 - PAL Screen Caps!

 

1) Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Columbia - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

  

Coming to Blu-ray in the UK by Criterion 6 days later in January 2017:

Distribution

Columbia Tri-Star

Region 1  - NTSC

Columbia Tri-Star
Region 2/4/5 - PAL
Criterion Collection - Spine # 849 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:31:51 1:28:09 (4% PAL speedup) 1:32:08.564
Video

1.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.72 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.17
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,255,415,913 bytes

Feature: 27,168,940,032 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.13 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes

Bitrate:

Columbia R1

.

Bitrate:

Columbia R2/4/5

Bitrate:

Criterion Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)DUB Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)  

English, German, Italian and Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English Captions and French, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese and Thai Subtitles as well as None English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and none English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Theatrical Release Date: January 11, 1940
Production Company: D3K Films

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1.00 ( Academy ratio )
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.37:1

Discographic Information:
DVD Encoding: Region 1 (US and Canada)

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Film Critic and Author Todd McCarthy
• Four Featurettes: "Cary Grant: Making Headlines,"(4:57) "The Inside Scoop: Rosalind Russell," (3:15)"Reporter's Notebook: Howard Hawks" (3:24) and "The Funny Pages" (3:29)
• Vintage Advertising (Posters / lobbycards).
• Talent Files (Howard Hawks, Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy)

• Trailers (His Girl Friday, It Happened One Night Born Yesterday and Pal Joey).

 

DVD Release Date: November 21, 2000
Keep Case

Chapters 28

Release Information:
Studio: Columbia Tri-Star (UK)
Theatrical Release Date: January 11, 1940

Aspect Ratio(s):
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.37:1

Discographic Information:
• Region 2/4/5 encoding (Europe, Middle East & Japan etc.)

Edition Details:
Commentary with Todd McCarthy.
featurettes: Cary Grant: Making Headlines (4:57), Rosalind Russell: The Inside Scoop (3:15), Howard Hawks: Reporter's Notebook (3:24), The Funny Pages (3:29).
Filmographies of Howard Hawks, Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy.
Vintage advertising (Posters / lobbycards).
Trailers (His Girl Friday, It Happened One Night and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington).

 

DVD Release Date: December 2002
Keep Case

Chapters 28

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

 

1.33:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,255,415,913 bytes

Feature: 27,168,940,032 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.13 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video


Edition Details:

•  New 4K digital restoration of The Front Page, made from a recently discovered print of director Lewis Milestone’s preferred version, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
•  New interview with film scholar David Bordwell about His Girl Friday (25:05)
•  Archival interviews with His Girl Friday director Howard Hawks (10:27)
•  Featurettes from 1999 and 2006 about Hawks, actor Rosalind Russell, and the making of His Girl Friday

- On Assignment: His Girl Friday (8:47)

- Howard Hawks: Reporter's Notebook (3:23)

- Funny Pages (3:28)

- Rosalind Russell: The Inside Scoop (3:14)
•  Radio adaptation of His Girl Friday from 1940 (59:29)
•  His Girl Friday trailers (Teaser - 1:23, Trailer - 2:50)

Second Blu-ray

•  New piece about the restoration of The Front Page (24:01)
•  New piece about playwright and screenwriter Ben Hecht (25:43)
•  Radio adaptations of the play The Front Page from 1937 (58:45) and 1946 (31:42)

 

•  Plus: An insert featuring essays on His Girl Friday and The Front Page by film critics Farran Smith Nehme and Michael Sragow

Blu-ray Release Date: January 10th - 16thth, 2017
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 14

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray - December 2016: Criterion's Blu-ray of His Girl Friday advances over the SDs in the anticipated areas. It has more, and consistent, grain. The 1080P resolution naturally exports superior layered contrast (deeper blacks and more pure whites) and it looks sweet in-motion. It is on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. It probably can't look much better. 'All good' on the video transfer front.

Criterion utilize a linear PCM (24-bit) in the original mono. Dialogue is always clear and clean and the score (uncredited) is by Sidney Cutner and Felix Mills and adds some flavor sounding solid in the uncompressed. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles on the Blu-ray disc is available in both region 'A' and 'B'.

Criterion's notable supplement is a new (2016) 4K digital restoration of The Front Page, made from a recently discovered print of director Lewis Milestone’s preferred version. It is a different version from the previously released Kino Classics Blu-ray reviewed HERE.

Criterion add many supplements for both films. There is a new 25-minute interview with film scholar David Bordwell about His Girl Friday. For Bordwell, co-author of Film Art: An Introduction (now in its eleventh edition!), His Girl Friday represents the apotheosis of classical Hollywood storytelling. The sheer gusto of the film's pacing, the economy of its structure, and its command of technique result in a whirlwind viewing experience that matches the chaos of the world of its characters. In this visual analysis, Bordwell illuminates the many elements of Howard Hawks's movie that demonstrates his mastery of his craft. There are 10-minutes of archival interviews with His Girl Friday director Howard Hawks and four featurettes from 1999 and 2006 about Hawks, actor Rosalind Russell, and the making of His Girl Friday - they are On Assignment: His Girl Friday (8:47), Howard Hawks: Reporter's Notebook (3:23), Funny Pages (3:28) and Rosalind Russell: The Inside Scoop (3:14). We get a desirable, hour-long, radio adaptation of His Girl Friday from 1940 and a teaser and trailer for the film. On the second
Blu-ray (that houses the 4K digital restoration of The Front Page) there is a new, 25-minute, piece about the restoration of The Front Page and a, similar length new piece about playwright and screenwriter Ben Hecht. Lastly are two radio adaptations of the play The Front Page from 1937 (58:45) and 1946 (31:42). The package has an insert featuring essays on His Girl Friday and The Front Page by film critics Farran Smith Nehme and Michael Sragow.

 Brilliant package from Criterion - such a marvelous, re-watchable, film - looking and sounding aces - and a bevy of supplements (and The Front Page) to indulge in. Our highest recommendation!

***

ON THE DVD: The Columbia R1 disc is marginally superior. Slightly richer and deeper blacks. Other than the discs are pretty much the same except for some minor details (see Trailers listed above). I was surprised and thought the PAL would come out on top. Just goes to show you. Both are super quality and much better than all of the others out there. A Classic film and a worthy DVD production. Stick with the R1 but if you don't own it yet, you know what to do. I think most individuals would be happy with the slightly lesser R2/4/5... especially if you require the extra subs. Great job Columbia!

(Note: His Girl Friday has recently entered into the public domain, and there have been multiple BAD versions released on DVD by other distributors.)

 - Gary W. Tooze





DVD Menus

(Columbia R1 - NTSC  Left vs. Columbia R2/4/5 - PAL -Right)


 

Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Columbia - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 



 

1) Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Columbia - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Columbia - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Columbia - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Columbia - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Columbia - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Screen Captures


 

 

 

 

The first screen version of Hecht and MacArthur's fast-talking play set in a cynical newspaper world is, not surprisingly, rather less hilarious than Hawks' definitive His Girl Friday or Wilder's '70s vulgarisation. The main problem is that O'Brien, as Hildy Johnson, torn between his obsession for journalism's glamour and his desire to marry, never actually looks very interested in committing himself to either life; thus the dilemma at the heart of the drama barely seems to matter, and it's left to Menjou, suave, hard and mendacious, to bring the film alive during his regrettably brief appearances as Walter Burns, the editor lacking all human qualities except ambition. Milestone's direction, veering between stagey two-shots and extravagant but purposeless camera movements, doesn't help either. But it's still worth seeing, if only to hear the jokes which the Hays Code later put an end to.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

 

 

Coming to Blu-ray in the UK by Criterion 6 days later in January 2017:

 

NOTE: The Criterion "The Front Page" is a supplement on their His Girl Friday Blu-ray. It has it's own second Blu-ray but it is a different version of the film with different shots - "made from a recently discovered print of director Lewis Milestone’s preferred version". There are technical details HERE. It starts with this screen:

 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) Kino Classics - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kino Classics - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kino Classics - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras:

Blu-ray

 

Box Covers

 

  

Coming to Blu-ray in the UK by Criterion 6 days later in January 2017:

Distribution

Columbia Tri-Star

Region 1  - NTSC

Columbia Tri-Star
Region 2/4/5 - PAL
Criterion Collection - Spine # 849 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...