The Front Page (1974)

PG   |    |  Comedy, Drama, Romance

The Front Page (1974) Poster

As a tabloid newspaper editor tries to prevent his top reporter from retiring, an escaped death row convict shows up at the office trying to convey his innocence.

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  • Susan Sarandon and Walter Matthau at an event for The Front Page (1974)
  • "Front Page, The" Jack Lemmon 1974 U-I
  • "Front Page, The" Walter Matthau 1974 UI
  • "Front Page, The" Walter Matthau 1974 U-I
  • Billy Wilder, director, on the set of "The Front Page," 1974. Vintage silver gelatin, 9x14, signed. $800 © 1978 Bill Avery MPTV
  • Susan Sarandon and Jack Lemmon at an event for The Front Page (1974)

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18 November 2012 | itamarscomix
| Lemmon and Matthau deliver
Billy Wilder's work didn't exactly decline in quality during the 70's; rather, he seems to have been making less of an effort to break new ground and reinvent genres, instead leaning back on genres he new well and making perfectly solid films that were fun to make and fun to watch. The Front Page is no exception; on the surface it's easy to blame Wilder of lacking originality, in adapting a play that had been put to film twice before. However, the 1931 version really isn't good enough to pay attention to, and the 1940 version (His Girl Friday) changed things around quite a bit, making Wilder's version the definitive version of the play. Wilder reverted the lead role from a woman back to a man, retaining the relationship between the two leads to the 'male life partners' version that the original play had, which I found more interesting than the romantic relationship in 'His Girl Friday'.

And the best thing is that the chemistry between Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau is so good, that they make this relationship really work. They worked twice before, in 'The Odd Couple' and 'The Fortune Cookie', and once again prove how good they are together; a testament to that is that the first half of 'The Front Page', in which Lemmon interacts with actors like Susan Sarandon and Austin Pendleton, moves along with a lazy pace, usually witty but never grabs the viewers completely; but the second half, which is mostly around Lemmon and Matthau, sparks all over the place and is an absolute joy to watch, right up to the ending - and nobody could direct an ending scene like Wilder. It's Wilder's knack for pacing that makes the film work, and Lemmon and Matthau have amazing timing that compliments it perfectly. The film may not be groundbreaking but it's a nearly perfectly made comedy, with some vicious observations about the nature of media and politics.

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