The Front Page is a story which has been adapted a fair number of times, perhaps most notably in His Girl Friday where Howard Hawks cast Rosalind Russell in one of the lead roles, a role originally written for a man, and produced one of the best comedy films ever.
This version is more recent, and stars Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, the odd couple themselves, and is directed by Billy Wilder, one of the greatest comedy directors.
This version, although made in 1974, definitely recalls the much earlier films, with its rapid-fire dialogue and wisecracks, and Lemmon and Matthau could do this in their sleep.
The plot revolves around the night before the execution of a man convicted of shooting a policeman, as reporter Hildy Johnson (Jack Lemmon) tries to quit his job and leave to get married, while his bullying editor Walter Burns (Walter Matthau) tries every trick he knows to stop him leaving and keep him on the story.
It’s a beautiful farce, and the plot ticks over nicely. I highly recommend catching any version of it. (Except, perhaps, Switching Channels, which I haven’t seen, but didn’t get good reviews).
There’s a bit of a presentation glitch on this showing. Someone cued in a reel change too late?
BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 24 December 1988 22.55
After the programme, BBC2 closes down, wishing viewers a happy Christmas, and playing some Christmas music as it closed down, accompanied by festive images.