The Front Page. 1931. USA. Directed by Lewis Milestone. Screenplay by Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, based on their play. With Adolphe Menjou, Pat O’Brien, Mary Brian. 98 min.
Co-presented with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, this New York premiere kicks off To Save and Project. The first film version of Hecht and MacArthur’s 1928 Broadway hit—perhaps the greatest American stage comedy—has long been available only in poorly duplicated copies of the foreign release version, which used second-best takes and dropped many specifically American cultural references. This new edition, restored from a print of the domestic version discovered in the personal collection of producer Howard Hughes, reveals a substantially better film, with sharper gags, crackerjack timing, and an innovative use of extended takes by director Lewis Milestone. Pat O’Brien is the Chicago police reporter desperate to escape the clutches of his conniving, cynical editor (Adolphe Menjou) and live a normal life with his farm-fresh fiancée (Mary Brian). Restored in 2016 by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation. Restoration funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation. Elements for this restoration 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. 35mm.