Written by Misc

His Girl Friday’s Fast

As you may or may not know, His Girl Friday is one of my favourite films of all time. The film is screwball comedy and was made in 1940, starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. It was written by Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, the latter two of which had written the play, The Front Page, on which it was based.
The wonderful Howard Hawks directed it, and it famously has possibly the fastest dialogue in any film ever made. The characters regularly speak over the top of one another, and indeed the final screenplay ran to 191 pages for a 92 minute film. Usually, screenplays run at around a minute a page.
In 1940, you had to record the sound all at once without multi-track capabilities, so a sound mixer had to switch between microphones as the characters spoke the lines.
Anyway, a link on Waxy’s Links the other day pointed to a version of the film edited a couple of years by Valentin Spirik which removes all the film’s dialogue. The end result is an 8:25 edit of the film. It’s also embedded below:

What we’re left with is very revealing about the speed of the film with jump cuts aplenty that mightn’t seem out of place in a 21st century reality show.
The full original film is in the public domain by the way. That means that you can stream it or download it yourself at the Internet Archive.
The public domain nature of the film means that you’ll see plenty of ridiculously cheap DVDs kicking around of it. The problem is that they mostly come from poor prints. So I do recommend the Columbia Classics DVD which is pretty cheap itself and uses an excellent print (ignore the comment that says otherwise at Amazon – I suspect that they’re looking at a different DVD – there are many around).
For more on Howard Hawks, I’d also recommend Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood by Todd McCarthy.