Sunday, 26 February 2012

Best Episode of The Simpsons? Season 3: Radio Bart

In an attempt to get completely up-to-date on one of my favourite TV-series The Simpsons, after I watch each season, I will choose my favourite episode...

I only rewatched this last night when my brother visited. This is an episode that I vividly recall watching multiple times - I'm sure that I recorded on VHS and it then became a regular viewingon a Saturday. This is why many people I'm sure will disagree with my choice for series 3.

The episode, again, broken into two acts. Act 1: Barts Birthday/Playing with Microphone leading Act 2:"Timmy" stuck down the well/Bart gets stuck down the well. I absolutely adore the lack-of-fun Bart has on his birthday and Homer's pride in using the microphone. The 'fun' party with Wall-E the Weasel ... and the Larry-the-Looter game. Brilliant sequences that again, are equally are funny, but additionally hark back to my own childhood birthday parties. The guest appearance, additionally, is Sting when they riff on the Live Aid gig for charity with the chart-topping hit - "We're sending our love down the well!".

Anyhoo - the best sequence (one of my favourite ever) is when Bart tricks Rod and Todd ...

Bart: [Via microphone into radio] Rod, Todd, this is God!
Rod: How did you get on the radio?
Bart: What do you mean how did I get on the radio, I created the universe, stupid kid
Todd: Forgive my brother, we believe you!
Bart: Walk through the wall, I will remove it for you!                               
[Todd runs into the wall, bumping his head]
Bart: - later.. hahaha!
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Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Ladykillers (Alexander Mackendrick, 1955)

"I always think the windows are the eyes of a house, and didn't someone say the eyes are the windows of the soul?"


One thing which is fascinating about Classic Cinema is how the themes and ideas represent the social context - but in many cases, it represents the current social climate too. The Ladykillers was remade by The Coen Brothers, starring Tom Hanks in the role originally played by Alec Guinness, and moved from Kings Cross in London to the Missisippi, USA. This original, far from merely using the word "f***" over 80-times (a useful piece of trivia about The Coens remake), according to Geoff Andrew is a "black comedy of English manners" which, at the time, served to "reinforce a society trapped in the past". Personally, I believe it holds many themes that link with society today - and crucially the corrupted, mixed-up logic of those who are intelligent enough to pull-off a bank-job ... but who cannot face the music when confronted by someone who is sincere enough not to join their gang, and who would rather the men take responsibility for their actions.

Mrs Wilberforce

The crux of this film is Mrs Wilberforce (masterfully played by Katie Johnson) and she is what engages us fully in the story. Mrs Wilberforce is a staple to the society - she regularly assists and speaks to the police about the local issues. She knows the local shop-owners and they know her. She is very much a citizen who takes great pride in what defines and ensures a successful society by actively playing her role. You could argue that this trust in her nature is what is gets her into this mess - as she ultimately trusts the shadowy man who follows her home. Professer Marcus (Alex Guiness) is the shadowy-figure that asks to rent her accomodation. Well-mannered, well-educated and, in an arty-kinda-way, well-dressed. He is still a sleazy and creepy. And then there are his crew of thieves...

The Group of Bandits

The characters created are creatively simple and clear-cut. We have the Army Major (Cecil Parker) - clearly one of the infliences of Stephen Fry's character in Blackadder Goes Forth. The everyman Mr Robinson, which ironically, is played by Peter Sellers - an actor famous for his multiple-role playing antics on Dr Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying And Loved The Bomb. Next up is "One Round" (Danny Green), the big-dope - a towering, well-built man ... who is also a tad slow. And the gang is finished off with the Italian Gangster, Mr Harvey (Herbert Lom) - a little bit too dangerous and only on this theft through the recommendation of Professeur Marcus. Mr Harvey is the 'loose' cannon and you never quite trust him - off the top of my head, a more comedic version of "Raoul" in Panic Room. Nobody is clearly from the same sect of society Mrs Wilburforce hails from - a high-ranking Major in the Army, a "Professeur", a well-spoken "everyman", a well-dressed Italian and ... well, maybe "One-Round" is your average working-class gentleman.

Regarding Mrs Wilburforce, we are also introduced to her friends briefly - all small women with little glasses and small hats, wearing cardigans. Mrs Wilburforce is not alone.

The 'Human' Element

The final act of the film kills off one-character at a time as the bank-robbers try and (a) steal the money for themselves and (b) attempt to choose who will kill-off Mrs Wilburforce. As the group gets smaller and smaller, we eventually see Mr Harvey and Professeur Marcus discuss the night previously and the frustration the Professeur feels - he realises Mrs Wilburforce is "the human element" and that this is what has destroyed their plan.

The ideas we can take from the film are profound as the bank-robbers get away with their crime - it is Mrs Wilburforce, the citizen of the country, who forces them to acknowledge their crime. The bank-job itself shows how, like those responsible for the recent financial crash, those who can commit the crimes are intelligent people and are more than capable of pulling it off. Indeed, no-one has been held responsible for the bank-job of the last decade. As noted, they are intelligent and well-educated - and the argument that its "only a farthing per person" is the type of logic we need to accept with regards to how we are to get "out" of this finanical climate - as noted on my analysis of If... - the British Prime Minister claims "we are all in this together". We all pitch in and the original crime is ignored.

The gang kill each other through their efforts to double-cross and con the other members of the group - is this hinting at the idea that all this greed over years - possibly centuries - will ultimately just destroy itself in one way or another. The criminals cannot kill the decent woman who they have decieved - the reason they can commit such a crime is because they don't see those who are affected. Detached, they can rob a bank - and it hints that Mr Harvey kas killed people - but when they get to know who is directly affected and are held accountable for their actions, they cannot bring themselves to continue in this manner. In fact, they don't even seem to like the 'Old Lady', or Mrs Lopside (implying that her attitude is off-balance?), and so it could even be highlighting the social divide between the white-collar criminals and the upper class against the "general public".

The film clearly portrays how, despite the moral-issues surrounding the definition of what is right and wrong, this is the society we live in and those who are in the position to rob a bank - our five-piece gang - are, in fact, right in their assertion that the money will be re-distributed. Mrs Wilburforce finds out in the final scene that she can keep the money and it doesn't make a slightest bit of difference on the grand scale of things. The difference in how that money is used is what is at the forefront of our minds in that final scene. The greed of those who commit the crime meant that the money is not distributed effectively whilst Mrs Wilburforce is happy to hand over huge sums of money to the artist in the street and will spend her money sensibly (on umbrella's) whereas, the detached, destructive, greedy Ladykillers only thought of themselves. It seems that Mrs Wilburforces socialist attitude towards the economy is held by people who are directly part of society, unlike those who simply want to make money from society.

Still don't think it is relevant to todays world? It turns out that the play is enjoying a run on the West End in London as this is published ... with star-of-In-The-Loop Peter Capaldi playing the Alec Guinness role...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Best Episode of The Simpsons? Season 2: Three Boys and a Comic Book

In an attempt to get completely up-to-date on one of my favourite TV-series The Simpsons, after I watch each season, I will choose my favourite episode...

The next episode, that I believe is the best of the second season of The Simpsons, is Three Boys and a Comic Book. Equally memorable for the first appearance of 'Comic Book Guy' and Radioactive Man, it also includes some flawless sequences between Bart, Milhouse and Martin.

Broken into two different acts - the first-half whereby Bart is working for Mrs Glick and trying to save up enough money to buy the comic, and then the second act whereby Bart, Milhouse and Martin fight over the comic book. By far, the best section of the episode, is when Marge recalls how she saved up money, only to recommend Bart to do the same - he says "Me? Get a Job..." and the show turns into The Wonder Years, sixties-music and all. I remember watching this when I first bought the box set and, alone in my room, I burst out laughing. Brilliant, unexpected gag.
The episode references films including Gone with the Wind (1939) ("Iodine ... anything but the Iodine!", The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948) and Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942). My personal favourite joke involves Mrs Glick recounting the death of her brother ...

Bart: Who’s that?
Mrs Glick: Oh, that’s my brother Asa. He was killed in the Great War. Held a grenade too long.
[Flashback to Asa in the Great War]
Asa: This one’s for you Kaiser Bill, special delivery from Uncle Sam and all the boys in D Company. Yeah, Johnny, Harris, Brooklyn Bob, and Reggie, yeah, even Reggie, he ain’t so stuck up once you get to- [Grenade explodes off screen]

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Monday, 20 February 2012

The Choice to Commit to TV

I'm really proud of this weeks post - all about TV-series and choosing to watch them. Because honestly, I have to choose very carefully which series I watch. Here is a sample of the article:

"The problem always lies in the amount of time you devote to a TV series. I was sold on Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire due to the connections it had to The Sopranos (and Scorsese in the latter), whilst any interest I had in Generation Kill and Treme is purely down to The Wire. Fact is, I have seen neither of those two because I know from the outset that I will be committing X amount of hours to each series and that is a huge amount of time lost on merely 'another' TV series."

Read the full article by clicking here!

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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Best Episode of The Simpsons? Season 1: Life on the Fast Lane

A reference to a dance number in The Gay Divorcee (1934)
In an attempt to get completely up-to-date on one of my favourite TV-series The Simpsons, after I watch each season, I will choose my favourite episode...

The first season is always a strange watch. On the one hand everyone will argue about the strange animation and weird voices - all the characters in opening sequence when Bart skateboards past the bus-stop are unknown (wth an older-Bart amongst the many bus-users), Ralph sounds like Nelson, etc.

But I think this also adds a little charm to the episodes - they are rough and ready. To some extent, Groening and Co didn't know what they had and so the humour is quite brave. I will mention a particular dark episode in Season 2, but considering the episode I chose for Season 1 is Life on the Fast Lane, the central narrative is "Marge considers an affair" so I doubt we need to get any darker than that.

The reference to An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
To summarise the plot - it is Marge's birthday and Homer buys her a bowling ball which she refuses to give to him - and instead takes bowling lessons from French-seducer Jacque... which leads her to make a very difficult decision.

What makes the episode so great is how it doesn't redeem Homer at all. I think part of what has made The Simpsons last so long is how, depending on the episode, it will utilise the supporting cast (even the family) in whatever way it needs to. So, in this episode Marge is the lead and everyone else is simply comedic in their roles. Homer does not redeem himself - he simply misses Marge and wants her back. What is important is how Marge realises the importance of him - and their marriage and children. Homer doesn't change in the episode at all.

The start - as Lisa and Bart destroy the Kitchen while making a card out of macaroni and create pancakes are the type of things my family would do for birthdays when we were younger. The dream-sequence looks incredible - using pink to highlight features whilst everything else remains in shades of grey. It is flash-backed in Season 4, so it is clearly memorable, but there is a brilliant reference to An Officer and a Gentleman at the end, whilst the best line (and I'll try to find these whenever I write these posts) belongs to Jacque:
Marge: You certainly have a lot of bowling trophies.
Jacques: [Laughs] I like you so much. They're not for bowling, Marge. You're so naïve. They're for lovemaking!
Currently, I have just finished Season 4, so I shall try and release these posts slowly so that there isn't too much of a gap in between, but it is no suprise that this episode - my favourite from the first season is also Matt Groening's second favourite of all time!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Star Wars and Racism

This weeks writing for Flickering Myth revolves around an article written by Dave Chen:

"Hugely popular properties always have some type of an effect on the viewers - and we cannot ignore this. This leads to to further interest in films that children watch - Star Wars, Disney, Twilight and  Harry Potter are all watched by children time and time again. What messages are they sending out? What morals are being presented? What about films more recent - say, Attack the Block, depicting gang-leaders who rob people at knife-point who, by the end, are praised as heroes. Again, an 'alien' movie."

Click Here to go straight to the article and please feel free to comment and say what you think!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)

"I'm only doing my job. Some people are bullfighters, some people are politicians. I'm a photographer."


During the opening sequence of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, we see a little hint of Austin's photography-career. Again, during Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, we see Austin-the-photographer shoot Kristen Johnston and Rebecca Romijn Stamos - "You're a ti-iger!". I knew all of this was referencing the sixties and paying homage to a classic staple of 60's cinema. It wasn't long before I realised the frame-of-reference: Blow-Up. On the one hand, this film is incredibly fashionable and a great world to get lost within, but on the other hand it raises profound questions about art, appreciation and our role as an audience-member. Blow-Up is, first and foremost, a work of art moreso that mere entertainment - but this is not to say that it is inaccessible, indeed, it is incredibly engaging and will keep you hooke duntil the end-credits roll.

The Photographer Captures Reality

Blow-Up shows us David Hemmings portraying Thomas, a photography based on swinging-sixties photographer David Bailey. He captures art-photo's portraying the hard-working conditions in a doss-house whilst also phtographing the rich-and-famous. Early on, he takes a little walk around London and photographs a couple - whereby the woman (Vanessa Redgrave) demands the film. He refuses but, upon closer inspection, realises that within the pictures he has taken is the body of the man she was with. He revisits the park and finds the body but, without a camera, he can do very little. Back at his apartment, everything is stolen except for one grainy, unclear image showing the body. He tries to tell a friend, and when he returns to the park a third time, the body is gone. The film ends as he takes part in an imaginary tennis-match.

'Manhattan Lower East Side' by Jacob Riis
I am very aware that such an overview seems redundant as many themes and ideas Antonioni uses are deeply integrated in the film itself. For example, a sequence whereby Thomas visits an Antique shop, though not integral to the who-done-it story, is important in Antonioni's exploration as to what defines art. The same could be said about the performance artists which bookend the film - it is this group which Thomas joins in for an imaginary game of tennis at the close of the film.

The Definition of Art

This is a big question as it does not qualify what is good or bad art - it merely asks what defines it. The film begins contrasting a group of performance-artists (crazily-dressed, running-amok, asking for money and jumping on cars) with Thomas himself, a quiet unassuming man who covertly worked in a doss-house to take pictures of the working-conditions. Akin to Jacob Riis and his depiction of the slums in New York, Thomas captures reality and truth. This then switches again as he sneaks away from the working-class men he has worked alongside and slips into a Rolls Royce, heading back to his fashionable apartment, to take pictures of celebrity Veruschka (an actual 60's model playing herself). He shaves and cleans himself up - he is a rich man who is a successful photographer.

An Iconic scene from 'Blow-Up'
This introduction forces you to acknowledge what type of person is an artist. Performance-artists of the sixties included Yves Klein (literally dragging someone, covered in paint, across the floor would be one art piece titled "The Anthropometries of the Blue Period" in 1958) and therefore the performance-artists at the start of the film clarify that these people define contemporary art before completely changing this perception as the working-man emerges from the doss-house only to go home in a Rolls-Royce and take pictures of celebrity. If success is determined by financial wealth - than clearly this photographer is the true artist. In the way he shoots, he is passionate and personal - the art of photography to him is almost a sexual act as he straddles Verushka whilst she writhes and moans on the floor. It is sexual, personal and real.

I believe the visit to the antique-shop further explores this definition as we see an attitude to the classic arts.  The older-shop assistant is not helpful and clearly despises Thomas' arrogance and attitude. Is the film arguing how photographers, though the future of art to some extent, is ignored and segregated from the elitist art circles. As an art form, photography is not seen in the same league as classical art forms such as painting and sculpture, yet it is also not seen as part of the contemporary art-scene such as performance-art. Even the young shop-owner confesses that "Money is always a problem" and maybe this is the crux of the issue - photography is accessible and art is elitest through the upper-class dominating the arts. Photography opens it out so that anyone can be an artist - but some areas of society do not want art to be that accessible. Again, "money is always a problem".

Look Closer

I vividly recall the marketing campaign for American Beauty whereby the tag line was "look closer". It would be more appropriate for Blow-Up. Art is not something you spend a second before moving onto another image. You need to look carefully and look closer. The film states the case that this is also the case of photography. Abstract-expressionism and painterly-styles often require the close-inspection of an image so that you can see and almost-feel the texture and the surface. In Blow-Up we see how Thomas blows-up an image larger and larger so that it becomes purely abstract and unclear. yet still, there is something within the image. When viewing art, it is this same eye we should use - inquisitive and inspecting the details.

In the same way, with the story itself, it is not clear who the killer is - indeed, it is not clear what exactly is happening. Like Thomas, we are observers and we are desperately trying to piece the story together. In the same way that Thomas is creating a story that fits the images he has created - almost like storyboards - we are equally assuming what has happened. We see hints at relationships Thomas has - his best friends girlfriend and again, we do not know the history, but we are left guessing and thinking about what has happened.

In terms of value, when we see The Yardbirds perform, the audience stand transfixed without emotion until the guitar-played smashes up his guitar and throws it to the audience. Everyone screams and tries to get a piece of the band. Thomas manages to take a section - and is chased out the building with it. Outside though, he throws it away. A passerby picks it up and, understandably confused, throws it away again. The value of art - what is and isn't important. This section of the guitar, within the hall, was fought over but outside no one cares. Therefore defining art by the value placed on it is clearly arbitrary as it depends on the audience.

Art is Imagination

The anti-climactic nature of the final act could put some viewers off, but I believe it answers the question it initially set-up. What defines art? Is it the principles set by the history of art - the classic art forms? the contemporary art forms? Does it rely on finance and wealth? Not if realism is classified as an artistic context. If it has a value placed upon it? Not really, as we have seen the throw-away nature of guitars and photographs.

The final sequence brings back the performance artists. They are not as threatening - they are still crazy - but instead run to an empty tennis-court and begin a match. Often associated with the upper-class, they play tennis without a ball and without rackets. The two play happily and competitively whilst the other artist look and imagine the ball passing from one side to another. Thomas is transfixed - the body is gone, he has no way to contact Vanessa Redgrave. It is merely a memory. The "ball" is hit out of the court and "lands" close to Thomas. He looks and picks up the tennis ball, throwing it back. He has given in - he imagines what everyone believes is true and consequently takes part in the game as an observer.

Art is about imagination and requires only this to truly experience it. As an observer you can take part by personally choosing to get involved. Blow-Up needs to be experienced to be understood. The story is similar to Enemy of the State as a photographer "catches" something and the rest of the film plays out following this - but unlike Enemy of the State (Indeed, they are completely different in many respects but bear with me...) this photo, after everything, is unimportant. Thomas is not held responsible and is not threatened - indeed, like contemporary art, there is no reason he should even care about it. But if you use your imagination and "look closer" you will see that there is so much more to it ...  
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Monday, 6 February 2012

Extremely Desperate and Incredibly Obvious ...

Ryan McNeil recently wrote a review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and, anyone who has seen our banter on Twitter, can see that I don't fully condone his actions on watching the film. He always watches the Best Picture nominations, whilst I am well-aware that some films simply don't deserve their position and I will not pay admission to watch them. My example is The Blindside which I didn't see at the time and now no one cares about it. I didn't miss out at all. At any rate, his review pretty much clearly shows how I would probably feel but I noticed how the story, interestingly, involves a boy coincidentally called "Oskar" ... which got my feverish mind racing; could there indeed be a story about winning an Oscar buried deep down in the story about Oskar?

I've used Ryan's synopsis of the story (Check out his full review here) in italics, whilst my interpretation - about what the film is really about is in bold...

EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE is the story of Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn).
The Story is about a film-trying-to-get-an-Oscar ...

Oskar is very bright and quite inquisitive, however is also socially awkward.
It's a good film, but alas, it knows it is Oscar-Bait ...

For Oskar, the sun rises and sets on his father Thomas (Tom Hanks).
The film primarily relies on Tom Hanks to truly gain an Oscar - he has won so many, it's a sure thing.

As much as Oskar loves his mother Linda (Sandra Bullock), it’s his father that has a way of relating to him that both comforts him and pushes him.
We all know The Blindside wasn't great, so Sandra Bullock alone couldn't garner the film any success but she does add a weight of credability.

He encourages Oskar’s eccentricities, and yet challenges him to be brave and seek answers for bigger questions.
Tom Hanks will always guarantee a certain corner of the market - as strange as it is, people really do rate him as an actor. People watch Tom Hanks and they are challenged by him - "This is a really good film - I'm just not sure if Tom Hanks is what makes it good" some people think.

Sadly, Thomas is killed in The World Trade Center attack, leaving both Oskar and Linda adrift.
Unfortunately, the film includes a clearly Oscar-bait trait - a reference to 9/11 and the American Dream. Without Tom Hanks, Trying-to-get-an-Oscar and Sandra Bullock have very chance of truly being accepted in the Oscar Best-Picture Club

A year later, as Oskar is sifting through some of his father’s things, he comes upon a curious key. Without much indication what the key is for, Oskar sees it as one last challenge from his father.
But there is a slight chance that if a film is made, that is clearly begging for an Oscar, with a story so steeped in "heavy-handed, muddy, melodrama" (Thanks Ryan), then maybe - just maybe - the short cameo by Tom Hanks in the first act may be worth the money they paid him.

As he inspects the envelope the key is contained in, he notices the name “Black” written on it. He realizes that someone named “Black” must have once owned the key – and possibly met his father.
If there is any way to squeeze in a race-issue, then maybe it is possible that the Oscar is guaranteed. For gods sake, despite how bad Driving Miss Daisy is, it won Best Picture! If that can win Best Picture, then surely Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has a shot ...

I'm sure someone is having a joke here... even the poster is Oskar looking shocked that it is so friggin obvious!
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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Double Your Box-Office!

I shall try and provide the link each week to the posts I have written for Flickering Myth - this week the discussion is about the whole trend of "one-production - two-films" filmmaking...

"When press interviewed Lynne Ramsay for We Need to Talk About Kevin she hinted at the fantasy idea of creating a trilogy – the first film dealing with the Mum's perspective, second from the Father's and the final from the perspective of Kevin himself. I remember reading this and thinking, as an idea, that would be brilliant. But could it ever work?"

Click Here to go straight to the article!

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Thursday, 2 February 2012

His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)

"Now, get this, you double-crossing chimpanzee: There ain't going to be any interview and there ain't going to be any story. And that certified check of yours is leaving with me in twenty minutes. I wouldn't cover the burning of Rome for you if they were just lighting it up. If I ever lay my two eyes on you again, I'm gonna walk right up to you and hammer on that monkeyed skull of yours 'til it rings like a Chinese gong!"


On Friday, I celebrated the seventh-year of my relationship with my partner Sarah. We had planned to have an evening in and we had decided to watch a film which we would select from LOVEFiLM's instant-watch selection. His Girl Friday came up - a film I watched a couple of years prior but I knew Sarah had not seen. More importantly, since that viewing, I had often cited the film when discussing films written by Aaron Sorkin or David Mamet - as the script has the same energy and pace as these screenwriters style. If not moreso. Before I plough into an analysis, I strongly recommend this film to anyone who has yet to go out of their way to appricate classic cinema. The film has character, charm and a pace that is unlike no other. The time flies by because the story moves so fast. It is an incredible film and the context (Newspaper journalists) and actors (Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell) could never be reproduced.

My first viewing, during a Screwball Comedy Season at the BFI Southbank, had me catching my breath when I left the cinema. I had recently read the Screenwriters book by Syd Field and I was automatically applying his three-act structure to all the films I was viewing. Fact is, whether you agree with Fields views on screenwriting and whether you think His Girl Friday applies itself to the same structure is not the point I am making - but what is clear, is that the writing for this film and, more importantly, its rat-a-tat-tat delivery is what places this film amongst one of my favourite films of all-time.

Story is Everything

His Girl Friday is a screwball comedy following Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) - recently divorced from Newspaper boss Walter Burns (Cary Grant) attempting to start a new life with her husband to be Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy). But we can see that Hildy is not the type of woman who can easily settle down - we know she wants to settle down but, in gaining Walter Burns acceptance of her new marriage, she needs to visit the hustle and bustle of the newspaper office. Her old friends, her old husband and it is clear that she may not leave the journalist profession just yet ...

The story is virtually set within a couple of rooms - the main office of the newspaper and the jailhouse, whereby a group of journalists await the outcome of a trial concerning Earl Williams (John Qualen). It is established early how all these characters know Hildy and they are all dumbfounded to find out that she is due to settle down. The wet Bruce Baldwin, we can see, has no idea of this fast-paced world and intense working conditions. He talks and moves slow - whilst Hildy, Burns and all the journalists move and talk fast.

Manipulation and Mobs

What Cary Grant brings to the table is a manipulating salesman who uses the opportunity to win Hildy back. As an audience member, we can see Hildy wants this type of man and whilst we know that both characters are trying to use and make money off of each other, you realise that the characters are meant for each other. In one standout sequence, Hildy, Bruce and Walter all go for a meal and it is a fascinating example of a taught-screenplay that explores character, motive and pace. In the sequence, we see Bruce fall for Walter confessing what a great guy he is, whilst we see Walter set-up Hildy to cover the story whilst Hildy herself is continuing to convince herself that Walter is not the man for her. Whilst we can see that he clearly is.

The whole story is light in tone - gangsters ordered to kill the in-laws, Baldwin arrested multiple times for multiple different crimes he hasn't committed. And this is amongst the banter between Hildy and Burns.

The Media World

This is deeply rooted in the capitalist Newspaper-savvy world of the media. Delivering fast-paced dialogue that, even if you miss something, another line will come shortly after which you will follow. The script is non-stop comedy as characters have perfect timing when delivering each and every line. This seems ideal for the theatre - as it was originally written as The Front Page - but was adapted from Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's play into Charles Lederer's screenplay: His Girl Friday it became.

As mentioned, if I was to think of other films or TV-series with a similar type of script-writing I would consider David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross and the play Speed-The-Plow, as both deal with capitalism and the non-stop process of sales. I could add to this list Aaron Sorkin and The West Wing and The Social Network - both of which, akin to Mamet, force us to listen to hyper-realist dialogue that, though not how people talk, for some reason the context - Politics, Business, Media - suits the attitudes and speed.

You Must Watch This Film

In a time whereby Hugo and The Artist celebrate silent-cinema, His Girl Friday is a film that shows how brilliant a script can be in an era barely a decade after silent-cinema ended (Chaplin's last film starring The Tramp, Modern Times, was only four-years before His Girl Friday). In terms of a soundtrack, the only music in the entire film is at the start and at the end. His Girl Friday is one of my favourite films - and this was decided after the first watch. Another example of a film that busts-out of the restraints of the time it was created, it supercedes the story itself with actors who are wholly unique and have never been bettered in Grant and Russell. If you find it difficult to watch black-and-white films and yet you want to start somewhere - this is the place to start.

Nb - This was originally published on 6th November 2010, but has been hugely altered since the original publication.