Friday, October 06, 2006

If It Bleeds, It Leads

The Billy Wilder Centennial

In 1974 Billy Wilder made his own version of the oft remade Hecht/McArthur play The Front Page. A classic comedy about newspapermen of the 1920's, this version stars Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as a reporter and his editor at the Chicago Examiner. When reporter Hildey Johnson (Lemmon) decides to quite the paper to marry a women of Philidelphia society (a young Susan Sarandon), editor Walter Burns (Matthau) will do anything to keep him on staff long enough to cover the hanging of murder and suspected communist Earl Williams (Austin Pendleton in a performance evocative of Woody Allen). While His Girl Friday will always be the definiative film version of the story, Wilders remake is enjoyable on its own merits, which includes a stress on the buddy comedy aspect and some great period atmospher, especially evident in the scene at the movie theater. Also featuring Carol Burnett as a kind-harted prostitute.


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