Act 1 Summary

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 318

The Front Page opens in the pressroom of the Criminal Courts Building in Chicago. Several reporters are playing cards, waiting for new information on a major story: the hanging that night of a convicted cop killer, Earl Williams.

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The reporters talk about one of their colleagues, Hildy Johnson; though rumor has it that Hildy has quit the newspaper business to get married, none of the reporters can believe it.

Another reporter, Bensinger, calls his boss and reports that Williams will be examined by a psychiatrist before his death. McCue, one of the other reporters, calls his office to report that the Governor is on a fishing trip and cannot be found to give a stay of execution.

A cop, Woodenshoes Eichhorn, stops by for a visit. He tells the reporters that Williams told his priest that he is innocent; he admitted he killed the cop, but believes that he is being executed because of his radical beliefs. The reporters send Woodenshoes to get hamburgers.

Hildy enters and informs his boss, Burns, that he is quitting his job and going to New York City with his fiancee, Peggy, and her mother that night. Hildy tells the other reporters that he is going to work in an advertising agency. After he leaves to say goodbye to others in the building, the reporters express their jealousy over his good fortune.

Mollie Malloy, a hooker who has been romantically linked to Williams, enters. She is angry about the lies the newspapers have published about her. The reporters throw her out of the office.

Sheriff Hartman enters and predicts that there will be no stay of execution. He leaves as Hildy and Woodenshoes return.

After avoiding another call from Burns, Hildy packs and says his final good-byes. His leave is interrupted by the news that Earl Williams has escaped. Hildy decides to work on the story, even though it means trouble with Peggy.

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Act 2 Summary