THE FRONT PAGE (1931)

The newspaper film—with its fast-paced dialogue, hardboiled characters and rampant cynicism—was born when Howard Hughes hired Lewis Milestone to direct the first of four big-screen adaptations of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s hit play. Shot before the days of strict Production Code enforcement, the film is the closest to the original, although part of the famous last line had to be drowned out by the clatter of typewriters. In this version, unscrupulous editor Adolphe Menjou fights to keep star reporter Pat O’Brien from retiring. The big lure is the chance to cover a sensational execution. Milestone kept the camera moving to disguise the fact that most of the action took place in a single room and used overlapping dialog to capture the frenetic pace of a reporter’s life. He also assembled a top cast of character actors, including Edward Everett Horton, Walter Catlett, George E. Stone and Frank McHugh. Like many of Hughes’ independent productions, The Front Page fell into the public domain, leading to the proliferation of inferior prints. In 2016, The Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation created this restored version using funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation. Elements for this restoration from original negatives provided by The Howard Hughes Corporation and by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, College of Fine Arts’ Department of Film and its Howard Hughes Collection at the Academy Film Archive. (d. Lewis Milestone, 101m, DCP)

In attendance: HEATHER LINVILLE, MIKE POGORZELSKI