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Howard Hawks' women


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I really like Joanne Dru's character in "Red River." It's easy to recognize her as a Howard Hawks' woman, strong, passionately devoted to her man. She's cut from the same cloth as "Slim" (Lauren Bacall) in "To Have And Have Not," but I like Dru 's character better, which is probably due to Dru herself.

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Wasn't Margaret Sheridan, the female lead in The Thing (1951) one of Hawks women? I've heard she got the part because of their relationship. The story I think is within 3 years of the film she'd met and married someone else, had a child and retired from films.

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Sheridan was a model whom Hawks saw was impressed and signed her up. She was to co star in "Red River" with Wayne and Clift, but became pregnant and with drew and the role went to Dru, Hawks was not happy, She did the "Thing" and that was about all. She retired and died of cancer in 1987 at age 55....

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> Sheridan was a model whom Hawks saw was impressed and signed her up

 

Roy,

 

Was it Hawks who saw Sheridan prior to signing her or was it Mrs. Hawks? As you know, it was his wife, Slim who saw Lauren Bacall when she was a model and told Hawks he needed to bring her in for a screen test.

 

I saw Angie Dickinson talk at a screening of *The Killers* and *Point Blank* a few weeks ago and she was discovered by the then-Mrs. Hawks (the wife after Slim) who saw her modeling and recommended Hawks take a look. That's how Angie said she got the role in *Rio Bravo*.

 

Hawks had a way of marrying women who had an eye for talent and weren't shy about making Hawks aware of the talented women who caught their eye.

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Dale,

 

I know Todd McCarthy said in his book on Hawks that Howard"saw her photograph in Vogue". It could have been his wife that first noticed her. No matter who saw her first Hawks had big plans for Margaret Sheridan. He was getting ready to start "Red River" and she was going to play Tess Millay.. But she fell in love and married and in 1946 she told Hawks she was going to have a baby. So Sheridan was out and Joanne Dru , who was also under contract to Hawks was in. He thought Dru was "ill-suited" in the role, but said she did a pretty good job, but he still though Sheridan would have been " 6 times better".

But he still had big plans for her. After he finished "I Was a Male War Bride" he had planned to do "The Sun Also Rises" with Montgomery Clift and Margaret Sheridan. It never happened. He had become interested in doing a sci-fi fantasy with Gary Cooper and yes, Margaret Sheridan. Never Happened.

Then came "The Thing From Another World", it wasn't called "The Thing" because Phil Harris had a hit record called the "Thing" and he didn't want it to be confused with it. But finally he was able to use his discovery Margaret Sheridan. Thus ended the history of Howard Hawks and Margaret Sheridan.. Almost. There was one last "It never happened" and that was "The Left Hand of God" to star Kirk Douglas and Yes, Margaret Sheridan.........

 

Roy

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I like Hawks' women in many of his films and as noted they had character to admire (not just window dressing). I would add to your list Jean Arthur in Only Angels Have Wings (and even the minor part a young Rita Hayworth played).

 

But I also feel some of these actresses were only 'OK' as actresses in that their performance is somewhat forced. I see that with Dru and Bacall. Both were young and inexperienced and in some ways it shows (verses Arthur who, playing a non screwball comic role, showed she was a very experienced and fine actress).

 

Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on Feb 11, 2012 12:36 PM

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Howard Hawks Women?

Funny, my mind went immediately to -

 

Hildy Johnson

Sugarpuss O'Shea

Susan Vance

and

"Lily Garland" (aka Mildred Plotka)

 

I respect *Red River* and the other adventure films but in my mind Hawks is still the the best comedy director of the screwball era. (Yes, even better than Leo McCarey.)

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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I guess I wasn't as clear as I could have been in my OP. I was referring to the tough, serious women of films like Red River and To Have An Have Not. I would throw in Angie Dickenson in Rio Bravo as another one of that ilk. Not comedy and not the ones he had the hots for in his personal life. But no reason we can't praise the others like Sugarpuss O'Shea, etc.

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When Hawks was preparing "Rio Bravo", Montgomery Clift was his first choice to play Dude. But Clift turned Hawks down. Maybe he remembered the "Red River" shoot and didn't want to work with Hawks, Wayne and Brennen again. Oddly enough Clift had just finished "The Young Lions" with Dean Martin who was cast as Dude.

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I have mixed feelings about Howard Hawks, and especially about the female characters in his films. A lot of the time I find them very annoying. They're pushy and aggressive in a style unique to Howard Hawks films.

Now I'm going to get people admonishing me. "What? Maybe you just don't like strong women. The women in *Red River* and *Rio Bravo* ( just two examples) aren't "pushy", they're confident and strong."

 

Nope, sorry, I don't find them to be "confident" so much as weirdly forward and pushy. I know it's not the actresses, because these same actresses are not like that in the many other (non-Hawks) films they're in.

Like, that scene in *Red River* in which Joanne Dru interrogates John Ireland about Matt ( Montgomery Clift.) She peppers him with questions about Matt, and also wants to know what Cherry thinks of her own behaviour. This is a very personal kind of conversation to have with someone she hardly even knows. How the hell is Cherry supposed to have the answers to her musings? Of course, he isn't, it's just to show what - and about whom - Tess is thinking. But it plays as a very contrived scene to me - people just don't behave like that.

 

Hawks' women always seem kind of smug and self-conscious to me. I know, I know, at least they're "strong", and they're given interesting dialogue to speak, which is more than one can say about a lot of female characters in old movies.

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How about someone posting a basic list of Howard Hawks' women, so I won't have to read all the text in this thread or look the women up one at a time on IMDB. Just their names would do, and that shoud generate a lot of interesting conversation. :)

 

Here's a Wiki article that lists a few:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawksian_woman

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The Angie Dickinson character is "pushy" in *Rio Bravo*. Hawks definitely does not like his female characters to be blushing violets.

This aggressive quality is easier to take in his comedies, often it "works" in them because it's just funny, and nobody expects things to be realistic. Jane Russell in *Gentlemen Prefer Blondes* is a good example of a likable Hawks woman- smart, down-to-earth, witty. And even Katharine Hepburn ( of whom, some may know, I am not a fan) pulls it off in *Bringing Up Baby*, because it's a comedy. But she, too, is very pushy with Grant, and would be unbearably annoying if it weren't for the fact that the film is genuinely funny.

 

Maybe I'll add more later. Right now I have to go steal some trousers from a man in my house, and replace them with a pink frilly negligee.

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TB, baby, sometimes you adopt a chiding tone on these threads that makes you sound like a pedantic cross schoolteacher.

We don't "need" to do anything...we're just movie fans who like to ponder various aspects of the films we enjoy ( or don't enjoy) watching.

I don't come here to do homework.

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I can see a lot of people attacking and downgrading the points being earnestly made because someone is not looking at the whole picture.

 

If one really cared about Hawks' portrayals of women, then it is the responsibility of the poster to look at all possible examples.

 

Otherwise the thread needs to be retitled Hawks' women in RED RIVER and RIO BRAVO. And again, that is a very narrow survey and subject to vast criticism.

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TB is often like the Angie Dickinson character in Rio Bravo :) .

 

Yea, Hawks made a lot of movies and I clearly cannot classify all of them, but based on the dozen or so Hawks movies I can recall off the top of my head, many are strong willed. There is a delicate balance between being strong and negative terms that place there women in a bad light. I think Hawks have these women do this balancing act, especially in the begining of the films, as a way to create sexual tension. The lead man at first reacts negatively to them but once the women show they have vulnerable side, the guy is hooked, and the tension eases.

 

Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on Feb 11, 2012 1:40 PM

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