His Girl Friday is fascinated with the question of whether or not Hildy is a woman. At various points, she asserts that she is a woman, not a news machine; a woman, not an errand boy; a woman, not a water buffalo.
But all that protesting makes you wonder—why do you need to hear so often, that yes, she really is a woman? The reason, of course, is that, at the time, woman were not, in theory, supposed to work. Can Hildy have a career and still be a woman? The film isn't sure—which is why you get all that talk about water buffalos.
The film also spends some time trying to figure out what it means to be a man. Bruce is one model; nice, devoted, gallant, bland. Walter's another—masterful, sneaky, and a crook. Which is more manly, the chump or the crook?
Questions About Gender
- Can you tell from the film that Hildy was a man in the original screenplay? Explain your answer.
- Who is presented as manlier, Walter or Bruce? Explain your answer.
- Given changing ideas about gender, could His Girl Friday be remade today? Why or why not?
Chew on This
His Girl Friday suggests that Hildy is Walter's best reporter because she's a woman.
His Girl Friday suggests that Walter has to be Hildy's boss because she's a woman.