Ken Tucker’s favorite Valentine’s DVD
My favorite romantic movie is His Girl Friday (1940), because it’s so much not what we think a romantic movie is. There aren’t any long, lingering looks of smoldering passion between lovers; there aren’t swoony moments of adoration. Yet what couple would not want to have the intense feelings for each other that Cary Grant (as newspaper editor Walter Burns) and Rosalind Russell (as ace reporter Hildy Johnson) have? In the Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur source play, The Front Page, Hildy was written as a man, but director Howard Hawks realized the byplay between Walter and Hildy was really romantic woo, so he rejiggered it to have Grant flatter, flirt, and pester his star reporter to dump the chump she’s engaged to (Ralph Bellamy as a great sap) and appeal to what’s most alluring about her: her talent, her hard work, and her casually devastating beauty. What woman wouldn’t want to be courted this way — as an equal, yet as a goddess? What man wouldn’t want to court this way — with silver-tongued craftiness that reveals his true, bursting love? Watch it and see what a frantic adventure love can be.