His Girl Friday, 1940: 31 Days of Cary Grant, Day 13

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday (1940).

On the subject of the movie’s famous overlapping dialogue, Grant recalled, “When I first started in pictures, an actor didn’t have the freedom to interrupt the dialogue. But in His Girl Friday, Rosalind Russell and I were constantly interrupting each other. The sound men would say, ‘We can’t hear you.’ And we’d say, ‘Well, you’re not supposed to hear us. People do interrupt each other, you know.'”

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday, 1940

Image scanned from Hollywood Picks the Classics by Afton Fraser (Bullfinch Press, 2004).

And, by the way, I’m getting many of my quotes from or about Cary from Nancy Nelson’s beguiling Evenings with Cary Grant (Citadel Press, 1991), which I highly recommend for all fans.

Now You’re Talking! Let’s Chat about Film Dialogue for #MTOS

eveI’m honored to be hosting another #MTOS tweetalong! For those of you who haven’t yet participated in this enlightening Twitter event, MTOS or Movie Talk on Sundays is a weekly discussion of a subject pertaining to film. I invite everyone to join in at 8 p.m. GMT for some good cinephile fun.

This time I’ve chosen movie dialogue as our topic.

I realize that’s a pretty vast subject, and we’ll only be scratching the surface with the questions below.

So, fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.

Q1. Do you seek out and enjoy dialogue-driven films? Why or why not?

Q2. To what extent is great dialogue about creating memorable lines? What other aspects/goals are important?

Q3. What’s a movie that, in your opinion, has brilliant dialogue? What makes it so good?

Q4. What’s a movie that you find “talky” or overwritten in terms of dialogue? Explain.

Q5. Of directors who don’t write their own scripts, name one who handles dialogue scenes well. What is s/he doing right?

Q6. Name a writer-director whom you consider a master of dialogue scenes. What makes his/her work effective?

Q7. Name an actor whom you consider especially gifted in bringing the nuances out of dialogue. Elaborate.

Q8. How does genre influence a film’s dialogue? Tell me about a specific genre and what you expect the dialogue to be like.

Q9. Within a given movie, dialogue/styles of speaking often illustrate contrasts between characters. Give an example.

Q10. What is your favorite movie conversation or dialogue scene (not just a movie line, please)? Why?