His Girl Friday lobby card

“You’ve got an old fashioned idea divorce is something that lasts forever, ’til death do us part.’ Why divorce doesn’t mean anything nowadays, Hildy, just a few words mumbled over you by a judge.”

Walter Burns

The quickfire repartee between Grant and Russell is a delight as the newspaper editor tries to win back his ex-wife and top reporter before her imminent wedding. The subtext about clinging on to a former lover is questionable, but Walter Burns is plainly a manipulative and duplicitous man⁠ and — despite all of Cary Grant’s charm — Hildy Johnson is fully aware of this, recognising his machinations sometimes more swiftly than the audience. Agency always rests with Hildy and whether she is truly ready to give up her career, toxic as it may be. The press room can at times devolve into a scripted cacophony that is impossible to follow, but the other newspaper men are really just a backdrop in order to demonstrate Hildy’s superiority both as a journalist and as a human being. The opening credits include a pointed dig at the press, noting that these depictions are historic and of course bear no resemblance to journalists any longer; 80 years later, it is even starker that the ever shortening news cycle has only increased the extent to which having a story is prized over the truth. His Girl Friday does, however, make one wistful for a time when the press were actually capable of holding mendacious politicians to account.