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Fast-Talking Dames$
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Maria DiBattista

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780300088151

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300088151.001.0001

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Female Rampant

Female Rampant

His Girl Friday

(p.268) 8 Female Rampant
Fast-Talking Dames

Maria DiBattista

Yale University Press

This chapter explores and analyzes the film, His Girl Friday, which starred Hildy Johnson, perhaps the fastest of the fast-talking dames of American screen comedy. Hildy is the one that made American aware of how “talking pictures” gave women the chance to speak up, speak out, and speak to their own desires, dreams, and ambitions. The chapter goes deep into Hildy's character as a newspaperman, and discusses how the character of Hildy would spring a new female type. As the main business of comedy at the time was to show the aspects that make a successful human being, happy in both work and play, sexually and professionally fulfilled, the comedies of the 1930s and 1940s show that such possibilities for women to obtain sexual happiness and professional success required them to veer away from the slow-witted, reticent, or inarticulate character. This chapter examines what insights can be gained from Hildy's character in His Girl Friday.

Keywords:   His Girl Friday, Hildy Johnson, fast-talking dames, American screen comedy, talking pictures, new female type, business of comedy

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