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The Front Page


Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are in fine form in the 1974 comedy, THE FRONT PAGE, but they are better than the film as a whole.

Lemmon is reporter Hildy Johnson, retiring on the day the film opens to marry Peggy Grant (Susan Sarandon) and escape Chicago.

Walter Matthau is editor Walter Burns, desperately trying to keep his star reporter Hildy from leaving town.

It's also the evening before murderer Earl Williams (hilarious Austin Pendleton) is to be hanged. Soon, Williams escapes, Hildy finds himself in no position to leave and Lemmon and Matthau engage in their usual fast, smart and funny verbal repartee.

So why doesn't the film come together?

It seems pretty stage bound, almost like watching a filmed play on one set. Carol Burnett (who I normally really like) is just plain awful and miscast as hooker Mollie Malloy. She is asked to swear, spit on main characters more than once and generally just be horribly unlikable and its painful to watch.

Beyond Burnett though, it's a great cast without enough to do.

Written and Directed by the legendary Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard), it's definitely one of his lesser efforts. I guess you just expect more than a glorified TV movie from this cast and crew.

Lemmon and Matthau are terrific, but the Front Page is more of a back page effort.....we'll print it a big C.

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