The Front Page

103 minutes 1931

Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's perennial stage comedy about yellow journalism in Chicago hasn't much to offer in the way of action, but in this 1931 adaptation director Lewis Milestone (All Quiet on the Western Front) manages to inject a fair amount of visual energy to complement the firecracker dialogue. Pat O'Brien plays Hildy Johnson, an ace reporter for the City News Bureau who wants to get married, leave the newspaper game, and settle into a New York advertising career; Adolphe Menjou is Walter Burns, his cynical and conniving editor at the Chicago Morning Post, who'll do anything to keep Johnson on his beat. Like many early talkies, the film can seem stiff and claustrophobic, but the sparkling source material and Menjou's hard-bitten performance make it well worth seeing. With Mary Brian, Walter Catlett, Edward Everett Horton, Mae Clarke, and George E. Stone.

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