Study Guide

His Girl Friday Scene 1

Scene 1

Scene 1

  • We see a bustling newsroom. Seriously, we've never seen an office that looks so manic.
  • In comes Hildy Johnson, with a spectacular hat.
  • Everyone is excited to see her (and not just because of her hat).
  • She says goodbye to Bruce Baldwin in the lobby, who's a shy, unglamorous guy that's crazy about her. She's going to meet her ex-husband, Walter.
  • We pan in a long single take across the newsroom, following Hildy to the office of Walter Burns.
  • Walt is shaving (because that's what you do at work, right?) while talking to Louis, a guy who used to be a "slot-machine king" and still appears to be a gangster.
  • They all say hello, but then Duffy the copy editor bursts in to say that some guy named Earl Williams is going to be executed.
  • Walter says to get the governor on the phone and bribe him with positive press coverage to reprieve Williams.
  • Duffy and Walter are concerned the paper will look bad. Do they care about Earl Williams dying? Maybe a little. Not much.
  • Newspapermen: not moral paragons.
  • Duffy and Louis vamoose.
  • Walter and Hildy banter. This is the first bantering in the film, and it is fine, top class, bantering.
  • We learn that they haven't seen each other in four months, and that Hildy is the one who wanted the divorce.
  • Why did she want the divorce? Because Walter is kind of a selfish dope (or "stinker" in 40's slang) who ended their honeymoon so they could go cover a story in a coalmine.
  • Hildy was also Walter's employee, and he doesn't treat employees that well.
  • She's trying and trying to tell Walter that she's engaged, but he talks so much she can't get a word in edgewise.
  • The phone rings; it's Duffy, the copy-editor, but Walter pretends it's the reporter Sweeney.
  • Walter's trying to convince Hildy that Sweeney's wife is having a baby, and that Walter needs Hildy to write the Earl Williams story.
  • Hildy finally manages to tell Walter she's getting married; she shows him the engagement ring. He seems pretty upset about it.
  • He tells her she won't be able to abandon the newspaper business—she loves it too much. She doesn't agree.
  • Walter asks her about Bruce. She says he's in the insurance business. Walter is snotty about that. (He's often snotty, in a fast-talking, charming kind of way.)
  • Hildy says Bruce treats her like a woman, not like a water-buffalo or an errand boy.
  • Also that she's marrying Bruce tomorrow. Walter doesn't like that at all.
  • He goads her into letting him meet Bruce.
  • And they go walking back across the newsroom. Walter doesn't open doors for her. Bruce would open doors for her.
  • Walter pretends he thinks a much older guy in the lobby is the one Hildy is marrying. (Because Walter is a stinker.)
  • Bruce interrupts, and Walter shakes his umbrella instead of his hand.
  • Bruce carries an umbrella and wears rubbers in case it might rain; he plays it safe. Walter pokes fun at him. He's not subtle, but Bruce doesn't get it.
  • Walter insists they go to lunch. Hildy tells him it won't do him any good, but he's unfazed.

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