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Great cast gives powerful performances as Matthau as scheming managing editor and Lemmon as convincing star journalist
ma-cortes16 January 2012
Rip-roaring third remake of the classic newspaper comedy ¨The Front Page¨ makes some memorable exchanges and sensational acting from everyone . Cynical editor newspaper (Walter Matthau) wants to get a big scoop on a death row which involves convincing star reporter (Jack Lemmon) to come back to work and put off her marriage to handsome pianist woman (Susan Sarandon) . Lemmon can't resist covering some good news , even when it mean helping a condemned man (Austin Pendleton) getaway the law . And the escaped convicted murderer offers the journalist an exclusive interview . Other reporters (Dick O'Neill, Charles Durning, Allen Garfield , David Wayne , Cliff Osmond) also give hilarious acting in this breathless pursuit of an exclusive with the escaped death row inmate .

A splendid remake of the Ben Hecht , Charles MacArthur play about a scheming managing publisher of a 1920s Chicago newspaper and his incautious reporter. Very good performance from Jack Lemmon as ace journalist who wants to quit the business and get married and exceptional Walter Matthau as editor who finds out his main reporter wants to leave him and gets in the way . Phenomenal playing from everyone , including a top-notch secondary cast as Carol Burnett , Vincent Gardenia , Harold Gould and magnificent direction render this frequent-told story more funny than usual . One of Wilder's most inventive and furious screen combats in which Lemmon and Matthau are given equal footing with staccato dialog and marvelous interpretations . I.A.L. Diamond's brilliantly tart screenplay overlaps dialogue and scenes to carry the black farce along the roller-coasted speed . Certainly the kind of movie that Billy Wilder only can make , though achieved moderated success in 1974 . Meanwhile , do't miss this stunning adaptation.

Other versions about this classic story are the following : 1931 ¨The Front Page¨ by Lewis Milestone with Adolph Menjou , Edward Everett Horton , Mae Clark and Pat O'Brien in his film debut ; ¨His Girl Friday ¨ 1940 by Howard Hawks with Gary Grant , Ralph Bellamy and Rosalind Russell with the pivotal character assigned to a woman instead a man ; ¨Switching channels¨ 1988 by Ted Kotcheff with Kathleen Turner , Christopher Reeve , Ned Beatty and Burt Reynolds in which an attractive TV anchorwoman want to marry tycoon but his mean ex-husband impedes it .
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The Unseen Power of the Press
claudio_carvalho31 December 2010
On 06 June 1929, in Chicago, the press is covering from the tribunal press room, the hanging of the anarchist Earl Williams (Austin Pendleton) that accidentally killed a cop and will happen on the next day. Hildy Johnson (Jack Lemmon), who is the best newspaperman of the Chicago Examiner, tells his boss Walter Burns (Walter Matthau) that he will marry the widow concert pianist Peggy Grant (Susan Sarandon) on the next day and quits his job, telling that he will move to Philadelphia and work in advertisement business. Walter unsuccessfully tries to use a scheme to force Hildy to stay in the Examiner and cover the execution on the gallows. Meanwhile, the corrupt Sheriff "Honest" Pete Hartman (Vincent Gardenia) interrogates Earl with the psychologist Dr. Eggelhofer (Martin Gabel) for the last check whether the prisoner is sane or not and the doctor proposes a simulation of the murder, but Earl shots Dr. Eggelhofer with the sheriff's revolver on the groin and escapes. Meanwhile, the governor's representative Plunkett (Paul Benedict) comes with a retreat on Earl, but the dirty Mayor (Harold Gould) and the Sheriff do not acknowledge the receipt of the document and send Plunkett to a brothel. When Hildy finds Earl hidden in the press room, his sense of journalist prevails and he calls Walter to protect Earl together with the unseen power of the press.

"The Front Page" is a witty comedy by Billy Wilder in one of his last works. I have never had the chance to see the original 1931 film, but this cynical remake is great, with top-notch performances of Walter Matthau in the role of a Machiavellian editor that has no ethics and presses his top journalist to stay in his newspaper. Jack Lemmon and Vincent Gardenia have also excellent performances. The ironic conclusion with the fate of each character is hilarious. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "A Primeira Página" ("The Front Page")
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Updating a classic
bkoganbing25 March 2006
I'm sure that the reason for Billy Wilder to do a remake of The Front Page is the fact that around the time this was made, politicians running for office on 'law and order' platforms was suddenly coming into vogue. The chief example among these was Richard Nixon and we all know what happened to him in 1974. Seemed like a case of perfect timing to me.

The original material that Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur wrote in the Twenties was perfect for Billy Wilder's cynical mind. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were born to play the roles of Hildy Johnson and Walter Burns.

Of course other things now that the Code was lifted could also be made more explicit. David Wayne's character of Benzinger is quite openly gay in the film. It's an interesting characterization he does. Of course he's the butt of all the jokes in the press-room, but I thought it rather funny when at the end when title cards show what happened to all the principal characters, he was the only one with a happily ever after ending. He settled down with a life partner and ran an antique store. A rather subtle comment on the sanctity of heterosexual marriage decades before gay marriage was an issue.

Carol Burnett was a big fan of Billy Wilder and it is mentioned in a recent biography of Wilder that she wanted very much to be in one of his films. Carol got her wish and did very well as Molly the prostitute who befriends poor Earl Williams, the anarchist who accidentally killed a policeman and is sentenced to be hung.

Austin Pendleton is all right as Williams, but no one ever played the role quite like John Qualen in His Girl Friday. Qualen had a patent on those little men up against the system parts. This version of The Front Page is also the farewell performance of Allen Jenkins playing a small role as a telegrapher.

Speaking of His Girl Friday, my favorite part in all versions of The Front Page is that of the messenger from the governor carrying Earl Williams reprieve. No one will ever top Billy Gilbert in His Girl Friday though Paul Benedict of The Jeffersons gives a good account of himself as well.

Sad to say that demagogic politicians who bray about law and order are still among us. Maybe it's time for another remake of The Front Page.
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"Well, if it's in the papers, it must be true. They wouldn't print a lie."
ackstasis25 December 2007
When Howard Hawks released his classic screwball comedy, 'His Girl Friday,' in 1940, it was a pretty safe bet that the film would forever remain the definitive cinematic version of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's hit Broadway comedy of 1928. It takes a truly talented director to successfully remake a classic, and, indeed, talent is a quality that Billy Wilder has in great abundance, as he proved time and time again throughout a prolific career. Jack Lemmon stars as Hildebrand "Hildy" Johnson, an ace reporter with the Chicago Examiner newspaper in 1929, who decides to resign and get married on the eve of a major execution. Walter Matthau also stars as Walter Burns, the cunning, scheming newspaper boss who cannot afford to allow Hildy to quit the business at any cost. The two actors make an absolute dream partnership, and, as always, work incredibly well together {they had previously shared the screen in 'The Fortune Cookie (1966)' and 'The Odd Couple (1968),' and would do so on many more subsequent occasions}.

In the crowded press room of a Chicago jail, a cluster of rival newspaper reporters clamour about for the perfect exclusive story, centred around the execution of a convicted cop-killer, Earl Williams (Austin Pendleton). In their desperate bid to write a great article, these inherently dishonest journalists will even occasionally fabricate their own news stories, but this strategy turns out to be rather unnecessary on this night. As Hildy arrives at the jail to farewell his comrades, determined to ignore the shrewd obstacles of his ex-employer, the story of a lifetime falls directly into his lap, and now it will take ever ounce of his willpower to resist the urge to report and to start a new life in advertising. While the two leads are, of course, terrific, enjoyable supporting performances are given by Pendleton as the prisoner awaiting execution, Vincent Gardenia as the bumbling sheriff and Susan Sarandon as Hildy's would-be future wife.

Though 'The Front Page (1974)' {the third adaptation of the play} doesn't cover any different ground than 'His Girl Friday' did {with the exception of reverting Hildy back to a male character}, it is the quality of the script, the chemistry between the leads and the selection of quirky supporting characters that make this an essential complementary viewing experience for fans of Hawks' film. Watching this one made me remember just how much I had enjoyed 'His Girl Friday;' the story is a classic write-up of eccentric situations and quick-fire verbal clashes, and both movies exploit this to its full potential. I wouldn't go as far as saying that 'The Front Page' is a superior comedy, but it is a worthy effort, and Wilder fans could not possibly be disappointed. The screenplay was penned by Wilder and regular co-contributer I.A.L. Diamond, and is packed with an excellent selection of quotable one-liner insults. I also loved the sly reference to the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, at which, of course, Jack Lemmon was present in 'Some Like it Hot (1959).'
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Wilder and Hawks don't trample on the original; they provide, 'Extra, Extra'.
highclark2 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I found 'The Front Page' to be a bit of a step up from the 1931 original and a couple of notches under 'His Girl Friday'. The thing is, one could argue for quite some time why one version is superior to another, but in this case, with these movies, it would be a really silly argument to make.

The only way 'The Front Page' seems to suffer (from what I've read on this site) is that its 1) Not as fast paced as 'His Girl Friday' and 2) Too much profanity mixed in with too much yelling.

Yes, it's not as quickly paced as 'His Girl Friday', but there aren't too many movies that are as fast paced AND as good as 'His Girl Friday'.

Sure, there's more profanity in this film than in the original and Hawks' version put together, but that's because there really wasn't any profanity in those earlier films. The other films used innuendo and some expertly placed camera mugging to get their laughs on film while getting over on the censors. The 'Wilder' version wasn't restricted to how far their dialog could go; they had more freedom and could abandon subtlety and nuance. I guess sometimes freedom can take you too far.

The profanity in this film doesn't bother me at all, besides, the film takes place in a newspaper room where the newspaper writers spend most of their time playing poker, drinking alcohol and making fun of prostitutes. Perhaps Wilder's version is more realistic in this regard. I think maybe the reason Billy Wilder slowed everything down and had so much yelling was to make sure that people actually heard the dialog in the film. It's too bad all they seemed to hear in the film was the profanity; there are some great moments of witty dialog amongst the crude and profane expletives.

Jack Lemmon (Hildy Johnson) and Walter Matthau (Walter Burns) are perfectly cast in their roles. I would say Jack Lemmon is a definite upgrade in the case of Lemmon vs. Pat O'Brien in the role of Hildy Johnson, but perhaps a close tie between Jack and Rosalind Russell. Maybe the edge goes to Rosalind. Maybe.

Matthau and Adolphe Menjou work out to be about the same. Menjou was the best thing about the original, but even so he rates about the same as Matthau in the role of Walter Burns. Matthau is always brilliant. I guess Cary Grant gets the edge because he's Cary Grant and had much more to work with. Grant has great chemistry with Rosalind Russell, as does Lemmon and Matthau, but Grant and Russell were working on a sexual chemistry that is not at all evident, let alone not appropriate, between Lemmon and Matthau. Grant is even better with his digs against Ralph Bellamy than Matthau is with Susan Sarandon. However, the moment where Matthau and Sarandon are both vying for the attention of Lemmon is fantastic. Once Matthau leans over Lemmon's typewriter and puts his arm around his ace reporter lost in his work, not in his marital plans, he knows that he's won the battle; furthermore he knows that she knows he's won the battle.

Oh no, I just realized that I started to make a silly argument.

See all three, start with the original, save 'His Girl Friday' for last. The Wilder version will have to suffice to being the glossy, shiny, colorful pull out middle section you get to read in the bathroom.

8/10. Clark Richards
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Witty and fast-paced
PWNYCNY17 January 2007
When the subject of great movies is being discussed, this movie must be included in the discussion. This movie is a witty and fast-paced satire that pokes fun at the news media. The characters are memorable and the acting is fantastic. Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon and Vincent Gardenia are great in this movie, but most impressive is Carol Burnett's wonderful and powerful performance which dominates every scene in which she appears. But what makes this movie even more appealing is that it is a story of how the quest for the extra buck can corrupt everyone involved, with tragic consequences. Billy Wilder is very strong on this point and for this reason this movie is worth watching.
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May the wind at your back never be your own.
lastliberal31 May 2007
Billy Wilder's remake of the Ben Hecht play is a little better than the 1931 original, but not as good as the 1940 Cary Grant version (The Front Page).

Still, Jack Lemmon (won an Oscar the year before for Save the Tiger) and Walter Matthau (The Fortune Cookie, Kotch) give excellent performances, and Vincent Gardenia (Oscar nominated the year before for Bang the Drum Slowly ) and Susan Sarandon (a relatively new actress) support them to the extent that this is still a superior film.

Funny, funny film about politics and newspapers and some the the early seventies best actors. Catch this one and also see The Front Page.
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Criminally underrated
el_monty_BCN14 February 2001

The Front Page is one of my favourite Billy Wilder films, and by definition, this would mean also one of my favourite comedies of all time. I definitely agree with the view held by some that this magnificent work deserves much wider recognition than it has received. And here's the news: I HAVE seen His Girl Friday, and I STILL consider Wilder's take to be superior, even if the master himself dismissed it as a botch. Sorry to disagree, Mr. Wilder, but I believe that in few films you got a chance as good as this one to demonstrate your spectacular sense of rhythm and comic timing, and get performances as astounding from everyone involved; the Lemmon-Matthau unbeatable duo works like a perfectly greased machine at full blast and I definitely prefer their vicious bickering to the flirty, romantically-intentioned banter of Grant and Russell; and all the rest of the cast I think is perfect too, for example Sarandon, who with just one look can convey her frustration and her resigned acceptance at her husband-to-be's inability to change... I'm sorry, but I just can't find the slightest defect. To me, this is a perfect ten.
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The best
Sinatra2 March 1999
I also do not understand the critics on this one. It's fast-paced, magnificently cynical throughout, unabashedly edgy, and the one-liners come faster than zingers on your average sit-com. Plus it captures the world of urban newspapers better than other movies capture the world of almost anything they attempt.
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Lemmon and Matthau deliver
itamarscomix18 November 2012
Billy Wilder's work didn't exactly decline in quality during the 70's; rather, he seems to have been making less of an effort to break new ground and reinvent genres, instead leaning back on genres he new well and making perfectly solid films that were fun to make and fun to watch. The Front Page is no exception; on the surface it's easy to blame Wilder of lacking originality, in adapting a play that had been put to film twice before. However, the 1931 version really isn't good enough to pay attention to, and the 1940 version (His Girl Friday) changed things around quite a bit, making Wilder's version the definitive version of the play. Wilder reverted the lead role from a woman back to a man, retaining the relationship between the two leads to the 'male life partners' version that the original play had, which I found more interesting than the romantic relationship in 'His Girl Friday'.

And the best thing is that the chemistry between Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau is so good, that they make this relationship really work. They worked twice before, in 'The Odd Couple' and 'The Fortune Cookie', and once again prove how good they are together; a testament to that is that the first half of 'The Front Page', in which Lemmon interacts with actors like Susan Sarandon and Austin Pendleton, moves along with a lazy pace, usually witty but never grabs the viewers completely; but the second half, which is mostly around Lemmon and Matthau, sparks all over the place and is an absolute joy to watch, right up to the ending - and nobody could direct an ending scene like Wilder. It's Wilder's knack for pacing that makes the film work, and Lemmon and Matthau have amazing timing that compliments it perfectly. The film may not be groundbreaking but it's a nearly perfectly made comedy, with some vicious observations about the nature of media and politics.
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One of my top 10 films of all time.
hedgehog-1013 January 1999
A superb film with a brilliant script. Full of characters you can believe in. They all have superb characters, who act as you may well expect them to. Why some film critics rate it so low is strange to me - perhaps the film was too close to the mark? Wilder/Diamond did have the advantage of basing their film on an excellent stage play.
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My kind of news Chicago has
StevePulaski18 February 2014
A satire on journalism seems to be the topic no filmmaker wants to touch, although I personally see the opportunity as a limitless one. With the modern era bringing forth the creation of the internet along with the concepts and ideas of information overload, misinformation, the idea that news is no long about being correct but rather being first, and the controversial and vague lines that determine whether or not websites like Reddit and Wikipedia are actually reliable sources are all things that could make a satire on modern-era journalism click on sight.

Maybe it's because I'm currently examining the journalism mediums in a high school source that I'd anxiously anticipate a satire on contemporary journalism if it were to be handled by someone delicately. For now, though, Billy Wilder's The Front Page is a fine film to hold one over. Immediately, the film is buoyed band blessed by having both Jack Lemmon and Wlater Matthau as its headlines, two fantastic actors whose work is only enhanced when they're placed in a film together. With The Front Page makes one of the earliest pairings of the two actors, almost ten years after the release of Gene Saks' The Odd Couple and about two decades before the wildly popular Grumpy Old Men films.

Set in the 1920's, Lemmon and Matthau star as Hildebrand "Hildy" Johnson and Walter Burns. Hildy is about to resign and retire from his position as ace-reporter of the Chicago Examiner but Walter, his editor, will have none of it. For years, he has trusted Hildy to write intelligent articles covering issues in the world in order to produce one of the finest papers around. But Hildy has other plans, to marry his new love (Susan Sarandon) and see the world are just a few of them. But when a checkered and incredibly juicy story comes along, Walter hopes to keep his star reporter one last time to write what may be the most outlandish story of his life.

Like most Lemmon/Matthau efforts, the real treat at hand is watching the chemistry of the leading men as they recite scripted dialog in such an elegant way that it conveys the buddy-to-buddy naturalism of a certain situation. Wilder and co-writer I.A.L. Diamond provide the men with several opportunities to put their loquaciousness to the test as the camera finds a way to fixate on them for several minutes at a time as the two bat off rapid-fire dialog at one another.

It is this chemistry that makes The Front Page a good piece of work and all the more fun, especially in the present time as it shows the functionality of old-school journalism and reporting and how journalists back in the day worked and operated. It's also hard to neglect a supporting cast made up of Carol Burnett, Susan Sarandon, and Charles Durning who, in some way, contribute to the film's overall success as a whole. And let us not forget the incredible talent of Billy Wilder, who takes one of the most cleaned-up occupations of the Roaring Twenties and Great Depression-era and turns it into complete lunacy, filled with those who go to astounding lengths to achieve a story worthy of the front page. Run and print that.

Starring: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Susan Sarandon, Charles Durning, and Carol Burnett. Directed by: Billy Wilder.
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There was one case I can think of where the production code helped...
AlsExGal25 December 2018
And that was in the work of Billy Wilder. I'll get to that later.

This production hearkens back to the 1931 version where the editor/reporter combination are both men and one wants to leave and get married (Jack Lemmon) while the other resorts to a stream of delay tactics and outright dirty tricks to get him to stay (Walter Matthau) and cover one last story. Probably the production code was the best thing that ever happened to Billy Wilder, because once it was completely gone, as it was here by 1974, Wilder felt he needed to put in crude sex jokes and crass language seemingly because he could.

Although this is the least effective of the three filmed versions of this story, you can't go wrong with a Billy Wilder/Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau collaboration. It was almost like Matthau and Lemmon's characters in Grumpy Old Men but younger. I loved the 1920s setting, and the art direction got it right, capturing the look and feel of the period. Susan Sarandon is present in an early role as Lemmon's distraught fiancee. Carol Burnett as the prostitute and love interest of the condemned man disappoints because she is so over the top.

It's not the best thing Billy Wilder ever did, but then he is responsible for some of the greatest films ever made. I'd mildly recommend it, particularly for Lemmon/Matthau fans.
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one of the best scripts ever
mingus_x4 January 2002
one of the best examples that a good script (plus in this case a wonderful cast) makes a good movie. 2/3 of the movie plays in one room and there is not a single dull moment. this movie makes you laugh and laugh with one witty line after another. for me it is the best and funniest work of billy wilder, straight followed by 'witness for the prosecution' and 'the apartement'.
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A great film
Lumiere-527 November 2001
I think the reason a lot of critics, and others, didn't like this film is because they were fans of the Howard Hawks version, "His Girl Friday." People who identify this as a re-make of "His Girl Friday" are incorrect, however. It is a remake of the 1931 film, also called "The Front Page," and all of them are adaptations of a stage play by Ben Hecht. The first version I saw was this one, and it is still my favorite. In fact, it is one of my favorite films, period. Don't get me wrong: I liked the others as well (yes, I have seen the 1931 version). I originally refused to see "His Girl Friday" because I thought the conceit of making Hildy a woman and love interest to Walter was too precious. Okay, I was wrong about that. But of all three versions of this story this is by far the best. I think it is one of Lemon's best acting jobs. Carol Burnette and Susan Sarandon ae the other stand-outs, and of course Lemon and Mathau are the best comic duo of their generation. This is a great film, one of the best from the best comic director of all time. It deserves much more recognition then it has received.
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a funny look into the newspaper business
goumba15 March 1999
how can you not laugh when so many funny & talented people are connected with this film. Billy Wilder, Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, Vincent Gardenia, Susan Sarandon & Charles Durning. it doesn't get much better than that.
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A quite brilliant film
missmoppett17 May 2012
This is about my favourite film and can never work out why it isn't much higher rated. The dialogue is quite brilliant and all the bit actors down to old hacks and cabbie are just perfect. Presumably it was set in an actual news room and the starting sequence of loading up the giant presses is still captivating. Mathau gives his usual wonderful performance with Lemmon the perfect foil. I particularly like the interplay between Walter Burns in jail waving the missing release. Just wonderful. I work with journalists and they all think it so true even today. Eg: Walter Burns to Hildy on his final words before hanging "Make them up if you have to." I've watched it dozens of times and though I know the script almost word perfect it still makes me laugh. Billy Wilder was a genius.
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"Well, if it's in the papers, it must be true. They wouldn't print a lie."
jzappa2 September 2011
It may sound distinctly familiar to anyone who's seen one particular all-time classic screwball comedy called His Girl Friday, but because it's the same eternally ripe material by the same Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, and because it's in the hands of one of the wittiest filmmakers of Hollywood's Golden Age, it all feels fresh. We escape right into the world of the Chicago press room of the 1920s where a few shy of a dozen case-hardened crime reporters lean on desks and play cards, snapping their suspenders and sputtering out the wet ends of their cigars. We are in a new generation of faces, look and style watching a movie made in 1974. But the talent in front of the camera includes the inimitable presence of Lemmon, Matthau, Charles Durning, Allen Garfield, Vincent Gardenia and Carol Burnett, as well as other duly fast-talking character actors. Were it not for the snappy energy and comic veteranship these performers bring to their roles, and Wilder's old-school deference to the primacy of the writing, The Front Page delivers virtually the same neat, fast-paced pick-me-up vibes as the quintessential classic wisecracking comedy and the quintessential classic picture about Chicago in the 1920s: About scoophungry police reporters, dishonest politicians, a fugitive who exhausts half the film hidden in a rolltop desk in the very press room where a parade of frantic folks are wearing out the subject of where he could be.

In His Girl Friday, Chicago was never ever named. In this version, Wilder reinstates direct inclusion of the Sheriff of Cook County, the Mayor of Chicago, the newspapers and so on. And there are no milquetoast newspaper fictions like the Chicago Globe. We are ingenuously stepping back in time and seeing all the real names, The Daily News, the Tribune, and actual front pages as well. I mean, sounds apt to me. Here, Wilder is a great storytelling pragmatist as always: The Front Page just couldn't be set in the present day. Journalism isn't like that anymore.

In those days, the days when Wilder himself was one of those half dozen or so stringers, he and they slipped any amount of bills, stayed up however many nights, punched however many keys it took to get a story, and never more so than in Chicago. I wonder if the Chicago reporters were more cynical because Chicago itself was more cynical and crooked. The nature of this breed of reporter is anchored in circulation wars and Hearst's yellow sins. The soul-crushing corruption and propaganda is ever present now, just more sophisticated, gentrified and spun well, where as in these times, it literally was a racket, and there probably wasn't a newspaper town in the country more aggressive and exhilarating than Chicago. This also gives the material leeway in pulling some pretty nifty little take-offs on fads of the time, such as Freudian psychiatry, as represented by the character of Dr. Eggelhofer, to whom everything seems to be a phallic symbol.

Wilder and his long-time screen writing partner I.A.L. Diamond sprinkle in a few allusions to other major scoops of the era, like the New York Daily News photos of Ruth Judd in the electric chair and the Leopold-Loeb case. Oh and of course the Chicago fire, which the gang of newspaper bloodhounds insist to their contacts isn't as big a story as the one about the escapee. But on the whole, Wilder and Diamond are careful what they change, and not much has been. The original basic structure of The Front Page is as sturdy as any drum-tight, bullet-paced farce. You can't change or even anachronize the death-row escapee hiding in the desk. Austin Pendleton's nebbishy version is no better than John Qualen in His Girl Friday, just an inimitable variation.

And when there are changes, like the addition of a bullied baby-face rookie reporter, we realize we're not watching a farce of the same economy and crispness like those in the time of Hawks and McCarey. It's such a more modern touch to add this figure simply to underline the veterans' contempt for the naïve collegians that it's almost like peering behind the magician's curtain. Regardless, we are watching Wilder and Diamond handling Hecht and Macarthur, and the razor-sharp exchanges, the tempo and the structure have been upheld. You could sum up the whole gist of the movie in the most transitory moments, when the flock of correspondents dashes to the windows, searchlights seek and sirens screech, and the reporters dash back to their candlestick teleophones and bark the tried and true standbys: "Give me city desk!" "Stop the presses!" "Tear up the front page!" "We've located Williams! This time for real!"
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kubdrat8 October 2000
I happened across The Front Page accidently while watching the baseball playoffs. The fact that the movie was able to hold my interest is tribute enough. Jack Lemmon is ready to quit the reporter business in prohibition Chicago... Walter Mattheu is Lemmons' editor and tries anything to keep his best newsman around. Lemmon is hot to leave for Philly with a woman he plans to marry but before Lemmon can get out of Chicago a story is thrown into his lap. The newsman in him takes over and the results of good action and story kept me around. Funny finish.
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The big carnival as a comedy.
dbdumonteil17 August 2003
In 1950,Billy Wilder told the story of a reporter (Kirk Douglas ) who "exploited the "human interest story" for his own benefit "(Maltin).It turned into a tragedy.In 1974,he comes back to the dark side of the medias ,no matter if it's a comedy:you've got to pay attention to all the serious things the director is telling us.In 1950,people were having a wild time around a man buried in a hole(hence the first title "ace in the hole"!);in 1974,people are playing cards and drinking whiskey in front of the gallows :nothing really changes. You would have to search for a long time to find clever comedies like this one in the contemporary cinema;and if people are disappointed,too bad for them:Billy Wilder was one of the greatest American directors of all time,even when he was a bit sub-par,he was better than the rest.

There are numerous funny moments:Lemmon turned into a exhibitionist by his boss,the desk in which the two reporters hide the condemned person -which might be a spoof on Hitchcock's "the rope",the "stolen" watch...

What is sad is Wilder's end of career:after the overlooked "Fedora" (1976)which he made with European money and which was unfairly deemed "a poor man's "sunset blvd"",and the remake of the French movie "l'emmerdeur" ("buddy buddy"),he was never given a chance to direct another movie.How unfair!
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Not bad but a disappointment
preppy-310 August 2003
The second remake of the "Front Page"--there was a 1931 version, a 1940s version titled "His Girl Friday" AND a 1980s version called "Switching Channels". The best is "His Girl Friday" but the others aren't bad.

In 1920s Chicago Hildy Johnson (Jack Lemmon), a reporter, wants to leave the newspaper business and get married (to Susan Sarandon). His editor Walter Burns (Walter Matthau) is dead set against it and will do anything to get Hildy to stay. And then there's the execution of Earl Williams (Austin Pendleton) coming up...

Elaborate, star-studded and very good-looking movie. It did keep me entertained BUT it's a very bad adaptation of "The Front Page". The original was filled with quick, very funny dialogue to be delivered at lightning speed. This movie "updates" the dialogue (that means throwing in swearing), adds some really crude jokes and throws in unnecessary slapstick sequences. As some other posters have mentioned this movie is very loud--TOO loud. The cast does what they can--Matthau is horrible but doesn't destroy the movie; Lemmon, although too old for the role, is just great; Sarandon is shamefully wasted (but she was unknown when she did this); Carol Burnett is (surprisingly) not that good as a prostitute (yes--you read that right--Carol Burnett plays a prostitute); Austin Pendleton is letter-perfect as Earl Williams; Vincent Gardenia explodes and yells (a lot) as the sheriff and Harold Gould (wisely) underplays the part of the mayor.

So this is a good movie but too loud and crude. And it's a real travesty if you compare it to "His Girl Friday". See it for the cast and the great sets.
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great old time comedy!
manuelvillalta3 April 2001
i watched the dvd yesterday for the first time, and it was truly and originally hilarious, the acting was so honest and natural that it felt like i was watching a play, if you are a fan of old comedies and most of all the greatest comedy couple of all time, i highly recommend it. the only factor that i didn't enjoy was that the movie has an aspect ratio of 2:35.1 and the dvd features a pan & scan transfer.
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The joy of eloquence
m6716519 December 2003
It was twenty years ago today. Or something. I just remember seeing this on late night television, and being amused and shocked by its crude language. And the over the top cynicism was news to me, and hilarious. This director can really take a rather sad story and make you laugh at this crazy animal that we call human.
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From slapstick to bitter - you'll find something to laugh about
przgzr24 January 2005
This movie is a great remake of a great classic 'His Girl Friday', one of the best old black&white comedies. Wilder keeps the plot in 1929., but makes a lot of changes, adequate to 70's audience and censorship. While the original makes little sexual allusions this one talks about sex and sexual situations (not showing anything, don't be afraid if it offends you). But this movie isn't all about sex (as modern comedies are, especially those targeting on teen population, those who adore "R" movies), but it doesn't pretend the sex doesn't exist (like today "G's" or most "PG's" do). It is a typical 70's movie that accepts human sexuality as a part of human nature - nothing more than a part, and nothing less than human. Many ideals in USA had been broken shortly before the movie was made - Vietnam, Watergate - and there is no respect to authorities, reminding us also that flower-power anarchy hadn't been dead yet. So humor is more cynical and bitter than in original, in some moments a strong political and social comments appear (these are the years when Lemmon balanced between dramas and comedies), but don't worry if you're looking only for a good time and laugh: this is what 'Front Page' has been made for. A clever comedy sometimes clearly showing its roots from slapstick ages (as if Abrahams&Zucker whispered in Wilder's ears), with a strong plot and brilliant characters even in short episodes - something unimaginable to be made by today authors for today average audience. But if you're a dinosaur like me, you'll adore it, almost as much as 'His Girl Friday'.
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Billy Wilder's Finest Work?
gavin694211 November 2012
Hildy Johnson (Jack Lemmon) is the top reporter on a Chicago newspaper during the 1920s. Tired of the whole game he is determined to quit his job to get married...

Everything Billy Wilder touches turns to gold. And when he is directing one of the great comedy duos in Hollywood history -- Lemmon and Matthau -- you are guaranteed nothing less than greatness... maybe even perfection. Throw in Susan Sarandon, Carol Burnett, and a number of good character actors... you have a winner.

The sensational journalism, the corruption at city hall... it could only be Chicago, and told here in a humorous vein like I have never seen elsewhere. The ambulance scene cracked me up.

Wilder himself said he was opposed to remakes (and I generally agree), and said of this film, "It was not one of my pictures I was particularly proud of." That is unfortunate, as I would say it ranks among the top of his work -- and none of his films are bad! Somehow this film lost a Golden Globe to "The Longest Yard", and both Matthau and Lemmon lost an acting Globe to Art Carney in "Harry and Tonto", which I have never seen.
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