Anyone can make any sort of commentary on how this film didn't live up to its heritage as the "umpteenth" remake of the movie "His Girl Friday", or the original "The Front Page", but in this case, I prefer to take the film on its own merits, especially in light of how things have been since its release.
First of all, no one has to get on a soapbox and talk about how the chief supporting actor of this film (Chris Reeve) has been in the time since its release. The movie "Speechless", with Mike Keaton and Geena Davis in my opinion stands as a much better reference point, if one is looking for one, for Mr. Reeve's work before his accident. Instead, I like to look at his role in this as seeing how he was moving away from his Superman stereotype. The man has worked with some of Hollywood's A & B list leading men over the last twenty years, ranging from Michael Caine to Morgan Freeman. While he was no Ralph Bellamy in this film, I don't recall anyone saying he was supposed to be when the film was made. After all, he was only supposed to play the type of character Ralph played in the earlier remake, and if they had wanted Ralph's nod on the film, (Especially since he was the only surviving castmember) why didn't they get him to play the Network Owner's part?
Then there is Burt Reynolds' character. While I don't think they gave him the best lines they could have in some scenes, I felt, and still feel that he played the part of the Station Manager/ex-husband in a role that was not out of range for him. However, if you want to sit there and compare him to Cary Grant's role, I ask that you do one thing before you do so. Go out and rent "His Girl Friday", and then fast forward to the scene where Cary goes "Oh, Walter!", and then try to imagine how easy it would have been to get Burt to do that scene in the same way.
Finally, but in no means last, there is the heroine of the movie, played by Kathleen Turner. Ms. Turner has always played capable women who can be independent when they need to be, and continued to do so here. One scene of note in this movie is her reaction to the story about kazoo players and the President of the United States at the beginning of the film. When you consider the fact that Hollywood has repeatedly told us that modern broadcast journalism's motto is "if it bleeds, it leads", and they seem to be living up to that on the local news broadcasts, I as a viewer would want the person giving me the news to crack up on a story about Kazoo players, long before they ever did about someone going postal at a Luby's Cafeteria.
The point in the movie where one can draw a strong similarity between the original remake and this one begins in the the interview at the prison. The scene here does not play out as a remake of the same lines and dialogue as the original said by new people, and one does have to admit that you can't exactly go in too many different directions with that as part of your storyline.
Also, in my opinion, the story does demonstrate much more detail about one thing that the Grant-Russell movie only touched on. There is a changing of the guard going on in the business. The older seasoned journalists in the main story have or are changing positions. Sully has moved on to Producer, and is now fighting a constant battle over lead stories, rather than deadlines. An example of this is where he makes the comment to his boss, in jest, about having a team going all over Chicago looking for "Smutless fires". Christy is also following the "grass is greener" principle, as she is leaving SNN for a job as morning anchor in New York, a show with a Willard Scott-type weatherman and fake furniture.
In my opinion, the only ones who really weren't well-developed as well as they could have been were Ned Beatty and Charles Kimbrough's characters. While it was interesting to see a man who would later go on to play a television journalist in a long running TV series (Kimbrough was "Jim Dyle" on Murphy Brown), the portrayal of them as a simple-minded Governor, and a crooked-dealing DA both running for governor seemed to me to be a mixed message over which story should have been covered. Everyone likes a good political debate, but at what cost, or should that be whose cost?
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