The Front Page (1931)

90 or 100 mins | Comedy | 4 April 1931

Full page view
HISTORY

Onscreen credits read "from the play as produced by Jed Harris." Although contemporary sources note that this was Pat O'Brien's first movie role, he had previously appeared in several films. A news item in MPH reports that Chester Morris was signed to play Hildy Johnson. Hecht and MacArthur were former Chicago newspapermen. Adolph Menjou, who received an Academy Award nomimation as Best Actor, was cast when Louis Wolheim, who was originally cast as "Walter Burns" suddenly died. The film also received nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. The film was re-released in 1938 by Atlantic Pictures Corp. Modern sources mention that some names in the play were changed to refer to writers and directors, for example, George Kid Cukor, Judge Mankiewicz and Mr. Benchley. Howard Hawks directed a 1940 version of the play for Columbia entitled His Girl Friday (see below). The play was also the basis for a 1976 film, also entitled The Front Page , directed by Billy Wilder and starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Several versions were also made for ... More Less

Onscreen credits read "from the play as produced by Jed Harris." Although contemporary sources note that this was Pat O'Brien's first movie role, he had previously appeared in several films. A news item in MPH reports that Chester Morris was signed to play Hildy Johnson. Hecht and MacArthur were former Chicago newspapermen. Adolph Menjou, who received an Academy Award nomimation as Best Actor, was cast when Louis Wolheim, who was originally cast as "Walter Burns" suddenly died. The film also received nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. The film was re-released in 1938 by Atlantic Pictures Corp. Modern sources mention that some names in the play were changed to refer to writers and directors, for example, George Kid Cukor, Judge Mankiewicz and Mr. Benchley. Howard Hawks directed a 1940 version of the play for Columbia entitled His Girl Friday (see below). The play was also the basis for a 1976 film, also entitled The Front Page , directed by Billy Wilder and starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Several versions were also made for television. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
22 Mar 31
p. 10.
Film Daily
27 Jul 38
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 30
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
10 Jan 31
p. 53.
Motion Picture Herald
28 Mar 31
p. 36.
New York Times
20 Mar 31
p. 29.
Variety
25 Mar 31
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Lewis Milestone's Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Settings
FILM EDITOR
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
General press representative
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (14 Aug 1928).
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 April 1931
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 19 March 1931
Copyright Claimant:
The Caddo Co., Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 April 1931
Copyright Number:
LP2188
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90 or 100
Length(in feet):
8,100
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Chicago's ace reporter Hildy Johnson wants to quit newspaper work and get married, but his editor, Walter Burns, is determined to keep him on the job. Hildy refuses to talk to Walter, knowing his persuasive powers, so Walter sets off a fire alarm outside the apartment of Hildy's fiancée, Peggy Grant. Unable to resist, Hildy runs to the street, after which Walter corners him and takes him out for drinks. While the two men drink, Walter reminisces about the great stories that Hildy covered and paints a boring picture of married life. Hildy manages to escape, and drops in on the press room at the courthouse, where the reporters are waiting for the hanging of Earl Williams, who killed a black policeman. The reporters want Williams hanged at five in the morning, so they can make the morning edition with their stories. The politicians, on the other hand, want him hanged just before the election, so they can count on a large black vote. Hildy learns that a new psychiatrist has been called in to examine Williams. During the examination, Williams escapes. After the other reporters run from the room to investigate, Hildy bribes someone to tell him the story of Williams' escape using the money Peggy gave him for their trip to New York. Peggy follows Hildy to the press room, complaining that he always puts the paper ahead of her. In the midst of the manhunt, the governor's reprieve arrives, but no one sees the messenger except the sheriff and the mayor. They send the man away, asking him to come back after the hanging. While Hildy is ... +


Chicago's ace reporter Hildy Johnson wants to quit newspaper work and get married, but his editor, Walter Burns, is determined to keep him on the job. Hildy refuses to talk to Walter, knowing his persuasive powers, so Walter sets off a fire alarm outside the apartment of Hildy's fiancée, Peggy Grant. Unable to resist, Hildy runs to the street, after which Walter corners him and takes him out for drinks. While the two men drink, Walter reminisces about the great stories that Hildy covered and paints a boring picture of married life. Hildy manages to escape, and drops in on the press room at the courthouse, where the reporters are waiting for the hanging of Earl Williams, who killed a black policeman. The reporters want Williams hanged at five in the morning, so they can make the morning edition with their stories. The politicians, on the other hand, want him hanged just before the election, so they can count on a large black vote. Hildy learns that a new psychiatrist has been called in to examine Williams. During the examination, Williams escapes. After the other reporters run from the room to investigate, Hildy bribes someone to tell him the story of Williams' escape using the money Peggy gave him for their trip to New York. Peggy follows Hildy to the press room, complaining that he always puts the paper ahead of her. In the midst of the manhunt, the governor's reprieve arrives, but no one sees the messenger except the sheriff and the mayor. They send the man away, asking him to come back after the hanging. While Hildy is alone again in the press room, Williams climbs in through a window. Hildy hides him in a roll top desk. Molly Malloy, a prostitute who helped Williams after he shot the policeman, sees Williams' hiding place, and when the other reporters are about to discover him, she jumps out the window to distract them, killing herself. In the confusion, Walter arrives. He is delighted with Hildy's work, flattering him with the notion that he has brought down a government. Furious at being kept waiting, Peggy breaks off her engagement. The reporters find Williams in the desk, and the sheriff arrests Hildy and Walter, but just then, the man with the reprieve returns, to Walter's delight. Peggy returns and Hildy quits and proposes to her again. Walter gets sentimental, and realizing that Hildy really doesn't want to leave the newspaper business, Peggy says she will stay in Chicago. Hildy insists on leaving and Walter gives him a watch as a going-away present. As soon as Peggy and Hildy leave the room, however, Walter calls the police at the train's first stop, asking them to arrest Hildy, who he claims has stolen his watch. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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