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The Criterion Collection Announces January Titles: ‘His Girl Friday,’ ‘Black Girl’ and More

Films by Ousmane Sembène and Jack Garfein join the collection.

His Girl Friday

“His Girl Friday”

Columbia Pictures

The Criterion Collection has announced its slate for January, 2017, with offerings from Howard Hawks (“His Girl Friday”), Rainer Werner Fassbender (“Fox and His Friends”), Jack Garfein (“Something Wild”), and Ousmane Sembène (“Black Girl”). Check out the covers for the films below as well as synopses provided by the Criterion Collection. For more information on the special features and technical specs of each of these films, visit the Criterion Collection website.

READ MORE: The Criterion Collection Announces December Titles: ‘Heart of a Dog,’ ‘The Exterminating Angel’ and More

His Girl Friday

“His Girl Friday”

The Criterion Collection

“His Girl Friday” (Available January 10)

One of the fastest, funniest, and most quotable films ever made, “His Girl Friday” stars Rosalind Russell as reporter Hildy Johnson, a standout among cinema’s powerful women. Hildy is matched in force only by her conniving but charismatic editor and ex-husband, Walter Burns (played by the peerless Cary Grant), who dangles the chance for her to scoop her fellow newswriters with the story of an impending execution in order to keep her from hopping the train that’s supposed to take her to Albany and a new life as a housewife. When adapting Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s smash hit play “The Front Page,” director Howard Hawks had the inspired idea of turning star reporter Hildy Johnson into a woman, and the result is an immortal mix of hard-boiled newsroom setting with remarriage comedy.

Fox and His Friends

“Fox and His Friends”

The Criterion Collection

“Fox and His Friends” (Available January 17)

A lottery win leads not to financial and emotional freedom but to social captivity in this wildly cynical classic about love and exploitation by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (“Lola,” “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul”). Casting himself against type, the director plays a suggestible working-class innocent who lets himself be taken advantage of by his bourgeois new boyfriend (Peter Chatel) and his circle of materialistic friends, leading to the kind of resonant misery that only Fassbinder could create. Fox and His Friends is unsparing social commentary, an amusingly pitiless and groundbreaking if controversial depiction of a gay community in 1970s West Germany.

READ MORE: Paul Thomas Anderson Brings ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ to The Criterion Collection This November

Something Wild

“Something Wild”

The Criterion Collection

“Something Wild” (Available January 17)

A complex exploration of the physical and emotional effects of trauma, “Something Wild” stars Carroll Baker (“Baby Doll,” “The Carpetbaggers”), in a layered performance, as a college student who attempts suicide after a brutal sexual assault but is stopped by a mechanic played by Ralph Meeker (Kiss Me Deadly)-whose kindness, however, soon takes an unsettling turn. Startlingly modern in its frankness and psychological realism, the film represents one of the purest on-screen expressions of the sensibility of the intimate community of artists around New York’s Actors Studio, which transformed American cinema in the mid-twentieth century. With astonishing location and claustrophobic interior photography by Eugene Schüfftan, an opening-title sequence by the inimitable Saul Bass, and a rhythmic score by Aaron Copland, this film by Jack Garfein (“The Strange One”) is a masterwork of independent cinema. 

Black Girl

“Black Girl”

The Criterion Collection

“Black Girl” (Available January 24)

Ousmane Sembène (“Xala,” “Faat Kiné”) was one of the greatest and most groundbreaking filmmakers who ever lived, as well as the most internationally renowned African director of the twentieth century-but his name deserves to be better known in the rest of the world. He made his feature debut in 1966 with the brilliant and stirring “Black Girl.” Sembène, who was also an acclaimed novelist in his native Senegal, transforms a deceptively simple plot-about a young Senegalese woman who moves to France to work for a wealthy white couple and finds that life in their small apartment becomes a prison, both figuratively and literally-into a complexly layered critique of the lingering colonialist mind-set of a supposedly postcolonial world. Featuring a moving central performance by M’Bissine Thérèse Diop, “Black Girl” is a harrowing human drama as well as a radical political statement-and one of the essential films of the 1960s.

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