As Hawks made his movie, "His Girl Friday," the US prepared to built battleships
In Howard Hawks' 1940 film "His Girl Friday," an unscrupulous, unethical newspaper editor, Walter Burns (Cary Grant), will do anything to get things to happen his way. In the film he uses his "anything goes" ethics to win back the love of his best reporter and former wife Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) who is, as the film begins, about to marry another man the next day.
Hawks took the Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's classic journalism drama, "The Front Page," and changed the basic plot into a screwball comedy with some sensationalism and contemporary issues dialogue thrown as elements of substantiating authenticity.
As America drew closer and closer to involvement in the war in Europe, women such as Margaret Bourke-White and Martha Gellhorn struggled to establish a woman's right to be employed as a "newsman." Hawks focused on the romance angle of his version of the story and let incidental issues such as race and pay get only quick lines to outline the (perfunctory) attempt to establish some sympathy for mitigating circumstances in the murder of a policeman. Hildy's marriage is scheduled on the same day as the murderer's execution.
The film, which the Pacific Film Archive had scheduled to be the final installment of a Howard Hawks retrospective, was shown on Tuesday, February 28, 2012, and brought up the question: How relevant could a 72 year old film about a declining industry be?
Since the film was shown at the same time that newspaper/broadcasting mogul Rupert Murdoch was being portrayed as an unscrupulous, unethical newspaper publisher who is being investigated for using "anything goes" ethics to win readers and increase his profit margin, it turned out that the movie was not a night off, but required the World's Laziest Journalist to put on his columnist hat and ask this question: What if a similar newspaper man were trying to manipulate American voters and change the Republicans' choice for their Presidential nominee rather than win back the love of a top reporter?
Isn't there a folk axiom that proclaims that "All is fair in love, war, and journalism!"?
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