The Front Page

by Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur

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Written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, The Front Page is a play that is considered responsible for defining the modern stereotype of a reporter as a hard-drinking, hard-boiled journalist intent on uncovering truth even in the face of danger. The comedy was a smash hit from its premiere in Broadway’s Times Square Theatre on August 14, 1928; it ran for 276 performances.

The Front Page was controversial at the time for its use of profane language and references (to such things as sex, prostitutes, and peeping toms) unfit for a decent audience. Modern critics assert that The Front Page paved the way for the use of such language in the theater.

Drawn from Hecht and MacArthur’s careers as journalists in Chicago in the 1910s, the play is set in the pressroom at Chicago’s Criminal Courts Building and concerns a group of reporters covering a controversial execution.

The Front Page has been revived regularly over the years and is regarded as a quintessential American play. Although modern critics deride its outdated language and ideas, it is still valued as an important landmark of the American theater scene.

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