CLASSICS & COCKTAILS: Getting the Last Word with “His Girl Friday”

his girl friday

The Brattle Theatre kicks off its Screwball Summer series with screenings of Howard Hawks’ fast-talking romantic comedy His Girl Friday on Monday, July 20 and Tuesday, July 21. Take in a classic tipple or two in Central Square before settling in for scenes from the silver-tongued Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell as “newspapermen”—and as a recently divorced couple. When Russell (reporter Hildy Johnson) plans to leave print media and remarry, hijinks ensue—instigated by Grant (her editor and ex, Walter Burns). In the midst of the post-marital spat, a murder case takes over the city, and journalists and politicians struggle to get their story out on top.

Hawks’ 1940 film was an adaptation of a George Kaufman-directed Broadway play, The Front Page, with a major exception—he made one of the two main roles female. Hawks, who directed Carole Lombard in Twentieth Century and Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby, was known for his strong female characters, or “Hawskian women.” With Hildy on equal par with Walter, the battle of wits is that much more entertaining, leaving the audience in delightful suspense over who will win out. Hawks used multiple microphones to capture quick, overlapping dialogue that preserves both the pace of the original play and the high energy of a newsroom. As shady political dealings are brought to light, it’s a race to the morning headlines for reporters and city officials.

To complement the film’s verbal dexterity, sip on The Last Word at Brick & Mortar in Central Square. The Prohibition-era cocktail is equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice, leaving a little pucker after each sip. The story goes that it was lost to beverage-lovers after World War II but was revived in 2004 by Seattle bartender Murray Stenson. It’s served straight up and ice cold at Brick & Mortar, the sign-less, second-floor bar above Central Kitchen. Named one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine in 2013, the Mass. Ave. establishment has bartenders who are equally well-versed in shots, beers and long-lost libations. His Girl Friday plays on Monday, July 20 at 3:30, 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. and again on Tuesday, July 21 at 3 and 5 p.m. Swing by Brick & Mortar when they open at 5 p.m. for the sweet-tart sipper and purchase your movie tickets online here to find out who has the last word.