Director: Howard Hawks
Actors: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
|In this fast-paced newspaper comedy about two ex-lovers, ace reporter Hildy Johnson returns to tell her ex-husband and editor of the paper, Walter Burns, that she plans to remarry (a momma's boy named Bruce) and quit her job with the paper for good. Walter hopes to prevent this from happening by tricking her into taking just one more case. The job concerns a nutcase accused as a murderer who the city plans to hang the next morning, unless Hildy can prove that he is crazy. After a series of mishaps, most of which were contrived by Walter, Bruce leaves for Albany with his mother, and Hildy and Walter realize that they're still in love.|
The Working Woman: Issues of Gender
"You're a Newspaperman!" --Walter
"I want to go somewhere where I can be a woman."
Hildy thinks that working on the paper
and womanhood are mutually exclusive.
She says she wants to go have babies and watch them
teethe. Her definition of being a real woman seems to include
moving to the country, slowing down, having babies
and not doing anything that requires thought. Being a real woman
seems to mean depending on someone else to take care of her.
It is ironic that Bruce is always talking about taking care of her
when she spends the entire movie keeping him out of trouble.
We, like Walter, know she won't go through with the marriage-- she's just too good at what she does to be happy in that kind of life. She tells Walter that Bruce treats her like a lady-- he's polite, he opens doors for her --something Walter agrees he would never even think of doing. Walter treats Hildy like one of the guys--a guy he flirts with. The sexual tension between the two of them is almost tangible. When Hildy returns to his office to tell Walter the news, they fire suggestive dialogue back and forth for several minutes before she can even get to her point. They're fighting, but underneath lies something more complicated. Hildy and Bruce have absolutely no chemistry whatsoever. Bruce wouldn't know what chemistry was if it blew up in his face. He seems to have a school-boy crush on her, and Hildy seems to adore him the way one would a small child or a new puppy. Bruce and his Mother are a package deal--Hildy is marrying both of them. This is actually a common theme in the screwballs (c.f. The Awful Truth, same actor oddly enough) to have a dopey Momma's boy as the "Other Man". The scenes between Hildy and Bruce are just one role-reversal after another. The end scene is clearly supposed to be comedic because Hawks gives Hildy lines that are stereotypically male. When Bruce comes in at the end of the movie when she's typing up her report and starts nagging her with questions, she responds sharply that he shouldn't try to change her. Walter grins, because he knows she's back.
Reviews and Publicity
The New York Times review of this film was unfavorable. See the review...