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"David Puttnam asked me to write this and gave me $5000 to do so, and I was frightened by it. I delayed and delayed for about a year, and Puttnam got pissed off and went away, and then I wrote it"  -Bob Ellis, on the birth of his script, The Nostradamus Kid
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday December 11, 2018 

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It's 1929 and ruthless Chicago Examiner editor Walter Burns (Walter Matthau) and his top reporter Hildy Johnson (Jack Lemmon) believe that together they can cover any story. But Hildy has decided to marry the young widow Peggy (Susan Sarandon) and is leaving newspapers for good, much to Walter's deepest disapproval. Just as Hildy is buying farewell drinks for the press corps at the criminal courts while the boys wait for the upcoming hanging of convicted cop killer, Earl Williams (Austin Pendleton), Williams escapes and Hildy begins to groom his young replacement, Rudy Keppler (Jon Korkes). And as the story of the century breaks, Hildy's instincts kick in to chase down the scoop. Meanwhile, Peggy is waiting to get married ...

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Full of wonderful comedic business, throw-away lines and some effortless ensemble set pieces, The Front Page bristles with its collection of talents on both sides of the camera. As is often the case with good comedy, the basic material is darkly dramatic, but the story telling style and the angle of approach to it is pure delight. It's that Billy Wilder touch of hurtful grains of truth inside every comic scene.

Two wonderful characterisations propel the film: Jack Lemmon's jaunty news reporter who thinks he can just walk away from the only thing he loves doing, and Walter Matthau's gut-rot newspaper editor who knows which stories sell papers. They're the ones that appeal to the lowest common denominator in all of us. But the film isn't about newspapers, it's about Hildy's self delusion, that he can marry a pretty girl with an uncle in advertising who'll give him a cushy job. The fact is, nothing rings Hildy's bell as potently as his typewriter pinging the end of yet another full throttled line of hard news with a razor's edge. These two screen giants earned their reputations with roles like these.

Susan Sarandon is lovely as Peggy in a small but pivotal role, full of the promise she went on to develop. The supporting cast, notably Austin Pendleton as the unlikely convicted killer, an overheated Vincent Gardenia as the buffoon of a Sheriff and Carol Burnett as the tragic two bit hooker, Mollie Malloy, are all terrific in this fast paced, bitter sweet comedy drama. A classic.

Published October 11, 2007

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(US, 1974)

CAST: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Vincent Gardenia, Susan Sarandon, Alen Garfield, David Wayne, Charles Durning, Austin Pendleton, Carol Burnett

PRODUCER: Paul Monash

DIRECTOR: Billy Wilder

SCRIPT: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond (play by Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jordan Cronenweth

EDITOR: Ralph E. Winters

MUSIC: Billy May (music adaptation)


RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

PRESENTATION: 2.35:1; DD 2.0

SPECIAL FEATURES: Directors Suite series. Hollywood Remembers: Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau profiles


DVD RELEASE: July 26, 2007

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