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Film_Fatale

The films of the amazing Howard Hawks

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*Ah yes... well... What's in a name?*

 

Millions of dollars at the box office, I guess, if it's the name of a movie. ;)

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Another Howard Hawks movie playing today on TCM at 5:30pm ET:

 

*Sergeant York* (1941)

True story of the farm boy who made the transition from religious pacifist to World War I hero.

Cast: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie, George Tobias Dir: Howard Hawks BW-134 mins, TV-G

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Coming up on _Friday, February 27_:

 

*Viva Villa!* (1934)

Rousing biography of the bandit chief who led the battle for Mexican independence.

Cast: Wallace Beery, Leo Carrillo, Fay Wray, Donald Cook Dir: Howard Hawks BW-110 mins, TV-PG

 

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Try to research your information a bit more carefully, FF. The director of record for "Viva Villa!" was JACK CONWAY, not Hawks.

 

But, to be fair, it's true that Hawks was the original director of the movie, and was fired from the movie after an argument with L.B. Mayer over the unruly Lee Tracy.

 

From the TCM article:

> Howard Hawks was Viva Villa!'s first director, and he did a lot more than make a few casting decisions. To this day, it's unclear how much of the finished picture is his, but Hawks understood the theoretical prestige of working for MGM, not that it suited his personality. In later years he wrote, "Metro was the best place in the world for getting a script and handing it to a director with it all cast and the sets all built - they had the best set designers, and they had good writers - but I don't think an independent worked well over there."

 

http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article/?cid=87929

 

And of course, any director who would punch Mayer in the mouth probably can't be all bad. ;)

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TCM is showing another movie by the great Howard Hawks on Monday morning (at 6:30am ET), "Today We Live" (1933), starring Joan Crawford, Gary Cooper, Robert Young and Franchot Tone!

 

33today27.jpg

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Friday night I went to a screening of Howard Hawks' "El Dorado" at L.A.'s County Museum. They had a beautiful technicolor print that was once in John Wayne's personal collection. I hadn't seen it in a theatre since my dad took me when I was a kid in '67(on a great double bill with "Warning Shot," a David Janssen cop drama). I'd seen the movie dozens of times on TV since, but on the big screen I was really able to appreciate Hawks' fluid direction and use of color and lighting. I was also struck by Wayne and Mitchum's seemingly effortless acting. It was beyond acting. They really were the aging gunfighter and the drunken sheriff both seeking redemption in the dark, scary streets of El Dorado. Going to a Hawks movie is like visiting old friends. And they never looked better - Cole Thornton, J.P. Harrah, Mississippi, Maudie(a lovely Charlene Holt), Bull...even the antagonist Nels McLeod(a great Christopher George) had a nobility and a code of honor. One of my favorite Hawks scenes is the one in the cantina when Mississippi(James Caan) hunts down the last of the men who killed his friend and mentor, Johnny Diamond. The scene is so tense and complex that the audience was completely silent and caught up in the action. I think it's one of Hawks' and screenwriter Leigh Brackett's finest moments. As for action scenes, you can't top the shootout in the church. "Let's make some music!" shouts Wayne as he blasts away at the gunmen in the bell tower. Watching this movie the other night I felt like a kid again. I just wish my dad had been there with me again.

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Howard Hawks made so many fantastic films it's hard to choose a favorite, but I think Rio Bravo comes close--this is on my top five westerns list. This is a perfect western, and I think one of John Wayne's best performances. I agree with the comment that though the Duke and John Ford had the more celebrated partnership, Howard Hawks got the best performances out of him. Anyway, I LOVE this movie.

 

It's long but you hardly notice the length because the action is so continuous; the storyline is great and no more predictable than any other western (ie, you can assume the bad guy gets his in the end); the cast is awesome include Duke, Dean Martin as a drunken deputy struggling with his demons, Ricky Nelson as the cool Colorado, the beautiful Angie Dickenson as the unnamed "Feathers" and John Wayne's love interest, and the ever-memorable and ever-reliable Walter Brennan as the jail-keeper. I believe this one was also written by the talented Leigh Brackett.

 

Not sure why the team chose to rehash this beautiful film in "El Dorado". . . .also enjoyable but made less so by th fact that I can't help but compare it to Rio Bravo.

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Smiler, that sounds like an absolutely awesome screening, lucky you! I won't comment in detail as it's been a long time since last time I watched it, but I do hope to get the new DVD re-issue that comes out in May and is supposed to have new bonus features.

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captainnemo, some folks are about to start discussing "Rio Bravo" in the Western Rambles Thread, which you can find in the Westerns forum, if you're interested in joining in. I'll try to re-visit the movie shortly, but I can't be sure when I'll get around to it. Should make for an interesting discussion, though.

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JackFavell,

 

Going back to an early post, Hawks was famous for his touch with an ensemble. A group of people, usually performing a task, firing quips and quirks back and forth like talk show comedians. He used it to advance story and relationship. It tells you all you need to know about the romance in THE THING. The loyalty in RIO BRAVO. In HIS GIRL FRIDAY, you see not only the tug of war between Russell and Grant, but the begrudging respect the reporters have for each other, and their disregard for the rest of the world. This is probably the trait Hawks is best remembered for. No other filmmaker has brought the concept to the screen so successfully.

 

I proudly sign myself,

 

Red River

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Hiya, Red,

 

Yes, I find Hawks irresistible in his direction of "snappy patter". You made some great points about what the patter is there for - and used great examples to back up your ideas.I love how you show that Hawks had a reason for EVERYTHING he did....

 

Here is another good quote from an interview with Hawks:

 

"You don't find a good comedy so easily. There are a lot that are made that are supposed to be funny, but aren't. There's another thing about making comedies -- they start out with funny main titles and with ridiculous gags, this attitude of "Look, we're going to be funny and we want you to laugh at it." I try to start it as if it is all serious then all of a sudden surprise them. It's much easier to do it my way than to do it their way. If I go to see a movie and they start off trying to be funny right from the beginning, I get up and walk out."

 

and here's another that really gets to the heart of how Hawks worked:

 

"If I don't like a scene, I protect myself so I can cut it down. If I like the scene, I make it so nobody can cut it down, otherwise some stupid jerk will want to cut out something that I want to keep. They'll try and make a thing go faster or something. Zanuck was famous for that. He'd say, "Just make this go a little faster." I usually have the cutter come down on the set and I tell him what I'm afer. He watches, and we work it out and rehearse it, and quite a number of times we've been able to look at a picture the day after we finish shooting.

 

Anytime you cut, it's much better for the audience if you can cut on an action. There are too many new directors who just cut for no reason at all, and you can't tell who the hell they're cutting to or why and you can't follow it. I'm much more interested in somebody listening than somebody talking."

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I'd add the original DAWN PATROL to the list above & note that I loathe BRINGING UP BABY. I think that can be chalked up to Katherine Hepburn being unable to hide her intelligence (has ever an ectress been more unsuited to Screwball Comedy?) and her Susan thus comes across more as a stalker than a ditz. (Had, say, Carole Lombard played the role, I might have a different reaction.)

I especially like Hawks for consistently presenting stong, capable women characters in his movies during a period not especially known for it - particularly in the "men's" pictures he made: Rosiland Russell in HIS GIRL FRIDAY, Ann Sheridan in I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE, Margaret Sheridan in THE THING (which he may not have actively directed but certainly guided), Bacall in THE BIG SLEEP, Jean Arthur in ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS ... even the Indian Woman in THE BIG SKY (Elizabeth Threatt).

And LAND OF THE PHARAOHS is, I think, very under-rated. Hawks wanted to do a Biblical-style epic, but more realistic than the overdone camp of DeMille (for instance). And Hawks' take is very realistic, alas it's not as much fun until that magnificent sequence of the pyramid sealing itself shut. But it has some great performances and my favorite Dimitri Tiomkin score ... and how can you not love any film that buries Joan Collins alive?

 

[Yike. Somehow it looked as though this thread was just begun recently & I made my post based on the first page -- somehow I didn't notice that there were more pages. So the above probably looks a bit odd coming where it does ...]

 

Message was edited by: HarryLong

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Hiya, Harry!

 

We were just discussing "Rio Bravo" in the Western Rambles" thread in the Western forum. You know, in case you might be interested. ;)

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I'll check it out, but I'm not a big fan of westerns ...

If Hawks had started specializing in them the way Ford did, I'd probably have seen very few of Hawks' films.

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LOVE Hawks! I think these are my favorite hawks films:

 

To Have And Have Not ("was you ever bit by a dead bee?")

Monkey Business ("I want a trillion dollars---and a nickel!")

His Girl Friday ("production for use!")

Bringing Up Baby ("I just went GAY all of a sudden!"--gained so much meaning in recent years)

Sergeant York ("I reckon you just gotta talk their language")

Ball of Fire ("the anemone nemorosa")

 

Can't put any of those in any order. I love his ability to direct comedy, but especially relationships. And I never realzied how often he used Cary Grant and Gary Cooper til right now.. and Walter Brennan... but then, who didn't?

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I should be watching Hawks' "Rio Bravo" later today. There's a nice discussion going in the Western Rambles thread, if anyone's interested.

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>gained so much meaning in recent years<

Maybe to the wider public, but it meant exactly the same thing back then.

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My favorite Hawks' movies are:

 

Bringing Up Baby

His Girl Friday

Red River

Ball of Fire

Sergeant York

 

Hawks did not get the Oscar acclaim he deserved but he was one of the best directors of the Golden Age

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"

>"Maybe to the wider public, but it meant exactly the same thing back then."<

 

What I meant was that the homosexual community didn't adopt the word "gay" until the late 60s (I believe 1968), so it's funny that they chose that word then, too. Maybe they were using it sparingly in the 30s too?

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They homosocial community may not have bandied it about publicly, the the term "gay" was code dating at least back to Oscar Wilde's time.

Cary certainly would have known it & no doubt Hawks & his writers were hep to it.

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that might be, but woulndt most people have understood 'gay' in the context of 'happy'? as in 'gay and carefree', that expression was used a lot in the 40s i think.

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