Getting on the Same Page: His Girl Friday and How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Comedy

HIS GIRL FRIDAY is a film that I hadn’t seen and hadn’t sought because it was one that I thought I would never have had an interest in. I like comedy, but I never had an interest in classic Hollywood screwball comedy. That is until earlier in 2018 when I watched Greta Garbo in NINOTCHKA via FilmStruck (RIP’). I found myself rolling with laughter at deadpan humor exhibited by the amazing Garbo. Had I been wrong all these years? Can I, a man born in the 1980s find humor in classic cinema? I love classic cinema and was surprised that this was an area that I never broke into. I purchased HIS GIRL FRIDAY, during the July 2018 sale at Barnes and Noble. Since this was not only an unopened Criterion, it was a film I never saw as well and therefore was perfect for this November 2018 prompt.

In the supplemental features of the Criterion edition of HIS GIRL FRIDAY, film scholar David Bordwell discusses how the film is one of the most American films ever made. This wasn’t just in terms of the ideology or sensibilities portrayed on screen, but in the filmmaking process. Director Howard Hawks was considered to be one of the great American directors who is not a household name. I can see why this is. Hawks manages to keep your eyes strictly on what is on screen without you paying attention to how he sets up, blocks, lights and all those things related to the process of filming. This is the opposite of someone like Stanley Kubrick (one of my favorite directors), who has your eyes on screen and you notice how he puts it on screen. While both ways work perfectly, you can see why a defined visual style sticks in folks memory much longer. However with HIS GIRL FRIDAY, you don’t need a visual style. For this film, the viewers are given one of the fastest, snappiest and wittiest films ever.

HIS GIRL FRIDAY, is the second adaptation of the play The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. The first was directed by Lewis Milestone in 1931 under the same name. That film, also included on the Criterion, I felt had a bit more flourishes in regards to the direction as opposed to Hawks. It also felt like a filmed stage play. Yet while entertaining it lacks Rosalind Russell who outshines Cary Grant like the sun sitting next to a light bulb. Her breakneck delivery of the film’s razor sharp dialogue is one of the best performances I’ve seen. It’s also quite physical without becoming slapstick. This is where my eyes opened to classical Hollywood comedy. It was the delivery that made me laugh, even if the joke itself was outdated. I will say, the Ralph Bellamy bit was a fantastic piece of fourth wall breaking.

This film also doesn’t let you forget that it’s based around the world of newspapers and newspaper writing. The film’s humor never detracts from this premise and also manages to never go into parody no matter what left turns the story takes. Hawks excelled in keeping the whole thing balanced and none of the film’s strengths ever got so high that it felt it was covering up a weakness.

HIS GIRL FRIDAY, is a great piece of cinema comedy and engaging as a look into the journalism business. The back and forth humor was some of the best I’ve ever seen in a film and the world of classic Hollywood comedy is a bit broader to me now and something I seek to understand much more thoroughly.

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Episode 13: The Bad News Bears Retrospective / Will McKinley

An episode that began as an aside to the Rocky episodes grew into a lengthy conversation about how The Bad News Bears demands relevancy in 2018, which grew into an even longer conversation about the Bad News Bears sequels, pre-ordained judgment of said sequels, and the mistreatment of classic cinema in a modern era that prefers to scrub clean the unfortunate realities of prior generations.

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Direct Download (right click, save as): http://traffic.libsyn.com/cinemashame/cinemashame_badNewsbears.mp3

CREDITS:

Talking Heads:

James David Patrick (@007hertzrumble) – Played baseball into college when his stubborn streak derailed his plans. A kid on his little league team dug himself a hole in right field and sang Christmas carols during multiple games.

Will McKinley (@willmckinley) – writer for Sony’s getTV network and a self-proclaimed Old Movie Weirdo. willmckinley.com

 

Clips Contained in this Podcast:

Georges Bizet – Carmen

The Bad News Bears (1976) Trailer

The Bad News Bears (2005) Trailer

The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977) Trailer

The Bad News Bears Go To Japan (1978) Trailer

Walter Matthau interview on Parkinson One to One

Selected clips from the The Bad News Bears (1976)

Selected clip from Fletch (1985)

Selected clip from The Couch Trip (1988)

 

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Recorded in November 2017 and May 2018. Copyrights are owned by the artists and their labels. Negative dollars are made from this podcast.

Episode 12: Musical Shamedown / Jessica Pickens

Jessica Pickens of Comet Over Hollywood returns. She selects a roster of Classic Hollywood Musicals beyond standard fare and we discuss how and why modern audiences aren’t necessarily receptive to the genre in 2018, using the polarizing La La Land as a case study.

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Direct Download (right click, save as): http://traffic.libsyn.com/cinemashame/CinemaShame_Musicals1.mp3

CREDITS:

Talking Heads:

James David Patrick (@007hertzrumble) – Played trombone, once performed as a backup dancer for my friends’ band.

Jessica Pickens (@hollywoodcomet) – Has seen almost 600 musicals and blogs about classic movies (mostly musicals!) at cometoverhollywood.com.

 

Clips Contained in this Podcast:

Hollywood & the Stars – Those Fabulous Musicals

“That’s Entertainment” performed by Fred Astaire (from Band Wagon)

Clips from the trailer for Footlight Parade.

Frank Sinatra talking about Broadway Melody of 1940 from That’s Entertainment

Eleanor Powell’s speech at the AFI Tribute to Fred Astaire

“Tico Tico” by Ethel Smith (from Bathing Beauty)

Clips from the trailer for The Harvey Girls.

“I Left My Hat in Haiti” performed by Fred Astaire (from A Royal Wedding)

Clips from the trailer for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

“I Enjoy Being a Girl” performed by B.J. Baker (from Flower Drum Song)

“Well, Did You Evah?” performed by Burt Reynolds, Madeline Kahn (from At Long Last Love)

Clips from the trailer for Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

 

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Recorded on June 1st, 2018. Copyrights are owned by the artists and their labels. Negative dollars are made from this podcast.

Episode 8: Citizen Kane / Kristen Lopez

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Kristen Lopez confesses her dirty little secret to the world. She was a film writer and pop culture commentator that had not seen Citizen Kane. She joins James to confess and correct her shame. In this 90-minute conversation Kristen and James exorcise some demons and confront Citizen Kane’s place in film history, film criticism and popular culture. Is it possible to truly appreciate Citizen Kane without a proper cinematic education?

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Direct download (right click, save as): http://traffic.libsyn.com/cinemashame/CinemaShame.CitizenKane.mp3

CREDITS:

Talking Heads:

James David Patrick (@007hertzrumble) – First discovered Orson Welles by watching Transformers: The Movie.

Kristen Lopez (@Journeys_Film) – Film writer and pop culture commentator. She also runs the Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business podcasts.

Music Contained in this Podcast:

“Sinfonietta for String Orchestra, Prelude” – Bernard Herrman

“Xanadu” – Olivia Newton-John & E.L.O.

Supplementary Links:

Kristen’s List of Shame on Letterboxd

Citizen Kane (BFI Classics), Laura Mulvey

Citizen Kane: A Filmmakers Journey, Harlan Lebo

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Recorded in December 2017. Copyrights are owned by the artists and their labels. Negative dollars are made from this podcast.

Shame Statement 2018

Great to be a part of another year of Shame! I actually accomplished quite a bit. I knocked off a good deal of horror films with Friday the 13th being the big one I wrote about. I also watched and wrote about Straw Dogs which was a very unique viewing experience. Now here we are at 2018 and I have a new list of films to partake of for the first time. This year I want to try for a themed approach. This year I want to focus on westerns, my favorite genre. Not every Shame will be a western though. But I do want to add some more of this genre to my cinematic talking points.

Yojimbo/Sanjuro – Akira Kurosawa

The Hidden Fortress – Akira Kurosawa

The Shooting/Ride the Whirlwind – Monte Hellman

The Revenant – Alejandro G. Inarritu

Romancing the Stone – Robert Zemeckis

A History of Violence – David Cronenberg

Hang em High – Ted Post

One Eyed Jacks – Marlon Brando

McCabe and Mrs Miller – Robert Altman (pray for me here as I typically can not stand Altman films)

Pan’s Labyrinth – Guillermo Del Toro

Ghost in the Shell – Mamoru Oshii

Death Rides a Horse – Giulio Petroni – Complete

Wyatt Earp – Lawrence Kasdan

Episode 7: Rocky Part 2 / Raquel Stecher

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Raquel Stecher once again joins James on the Cinema Shame podcast to complete their conversation about the Rocky series with bits and baubles about Rocky IV, Rocky V, and Rocky Balboa.

How much of a role does nostalgia play in the enjoyment of the Rocky films? And does that even matter when sitting down to enjoy a film franchise? As we weave our way through the decline of Rocky, we talk Dolph Lundgren’s unholy bench press, the inexplicable creative decisions behind Rocky V, and the sweet and sentimental coda to the franchise. We play the inaugural “Hot Minute of Cinema Shame” game and wax romantic about training montages.

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Direct download (right click, save as): http://traffic.libsyn.com/cinemashame/rocky2.mp3

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CREDITS:

Talking Heads:

James David Patrick (@007hertzrumble) – Host, lover of horror and crazy cinema challenges.

Raquel Stecher (@QuelleLove) – Classic movie blogger, workout and training aficionado.

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Music Contained in this Podcast:

“Living in America” – James Brown

“Hearts on Fire” – John Cafferty

“Redemption” – Bill Conti

“Go For It” – Joey B. Ellis

“The Final Bell” – Bill Conti

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Supplementary Links:

Raquel’s Out of the Past Classic Film Blog

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Recorded in October 2017.

Copyrights are owned by the artists and their labels. Negative dollars are made from this podcast.

Episode 6: Friday the 13th / El Cinemonster

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David aka “the Cinemonster” joins James to discuss his monstrous creation, the Hooptober Horror Movie Challenge on Letterboxd.com. Our host and guest then give birth to a pair of “baby Hooptober” lists to demonstrate the ever-growing social media phenomenon and give a few horror viewing recommendations to populate your own Hooptober lists.

Cinema Shame’s Halloween Special also flips the Shame script and places our host in the hot seat for his first viewing of Friday the 13th Parts 1 and 2 for a conversation and analyzes how a horror-loving child of the 1980’s somehow avoided the grandaddy (or at least the Great Uncle) of the modern American slasher genre. The conversation then turns to the historical origins of the slasher within film, literature and contemporary popular culture.

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Direct download (right click, save as): http://traffic.libsyn.com/cinemashame/Hooptober1.mp3

 

CREDITS:

Talking Heads:

James David Patrick (@007hertzrumble) – Host, lover of horror and crazy cinema challenges.

David the Cinemonster (@ElCinemonster) – Horror lover, expert and Cinema Shame’s resident Dr. Frankenstein.

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Music Contained in this Podcast:

“Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell

“Friday the 13th Original Theme” – Harry Manfredini

“Red Right Hand” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

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Supplementary Links:

El Cinemonster’s Hooptober 4.0 Rules and List on Letterboxd.com

James Patrick’s Hooptober 4.0 Watchlist

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Supplementary Materials:

Theatre of Fear & Horror: The Grisly Spectacle of the Grand Guignol of Paris, 1897-1962

So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films

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Recommended Homework Films:

Bay of Blood (Mario Bava, 1971)

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (Sergio Martino, 1972)

Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974)

Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975)

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Recorded in October 2017.

Copyrights are owned by the artists and their labels. Negative dollars are made from this podcast.