Before she settles down to life of homemaking, security, and insurance policies with Bruce Baldwin in Albany, star reporter Hildy Johnson has one more story to write for her ex-husband and ex-boss Walter Burns, editor of the Morning Post. Hildy must write up an interview with convicted killer Earl Williams that will grant him a last-minute reprieve on the basis of insanity. The ingenious angle she finds to prove he’s insane: Earl listened to so many soapbox speeches in the park about the socialist concept of “production for use” that when a gun was placed into his hands, he had to shoot it.
Howard Hawks’s 1940 film “His Girl Friday” knits together two plots from two very different genres. One is a romantic comedy that intends to reunite its main couple in something like wedded bliss. The other is a dark drama of murder and corruption, complete with a gallows lurking just outside the window and a suicide attempt that takes place on screen. Yet Earl Williams and Hildy Johnson’s fates in their respective plots are twinned. Both are, in a sense, looking for their own reprieves. And Hildy has her own production-for-use dilemma. What was she made for—the life of a newspaperman, or the life of a housewife? To what kinds of production should we devote our own lives? What are we made for—risk and adventure or security and insurance? Wes & Erin discuss.
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