Howard Hawks

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sevenarts
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Re: Howard Hawks

#26 Post by sevenarts » Tue Dec 02, 2008 9:54 am

I've just announced the Early Hawks Blog-a-Thon at my blog, running from January 12-23, 2009. I'll be watching all of the Hawks films I can get my hands on from before Bringing Up Baby (my arbitary boundary line for "early"), and I hope that many other people will participate and join me. If you have any questions about getting ahold of the films, let me know.

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Gregory
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Re: Howard Hawks

#27 Post by Gregory » Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:43 pm

I'll be reading your posts on early Hawks with interest. With the exception of Scarface, which is deservedly well known, these films are ripe for reassessment, if only they were easier to obtain.
About half of his surviving pre-Bringing Up Baby films have been released on DVD and/or VHS, but I've never been able to see the rest:
Fig Leaves
Cradle Snatchers
Paid to Love
Fazil
Trent's Last Case
Dawn Patrol
The Crowd Roars
Tiger Shark
Today We Live
I'd particularly love to see the Murnau-influenced Paid to Love, even if it did turn out to be a mere curiosity.
Last edited by Gregory on Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#28 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:08 pm

If that's supposed to be a list of films not available on VHS or DVD, Viva Villa is

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Gregory
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Re: Howard Hawks

#29 Post by Gregory » Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:38 pm

Thanks, fixed. I don't know how I forgot that one is out on VHS, as I know my local library has it. From what I've read about it, I expect it to be a case of the story of the production being more interesting than the film itself.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#30 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Tue Dec 02, 2008 6:51 pm

The Crowd Roars is a pretty fun little movie, with quite a few Hawks' trademarks. Firstly there is the conflict between brotherly relationships and romantic relationships. James Cagney and Eric Linden are the two brothers who end up falling out in part due to women, before eventually realizing that their relationship is most important.

The setting is also very Hawksian with Cagney and Linden as race-car drivers, a dangerous profession where men can be men ala the pilots of a half dozen of Hawks' films, or say the animal wranglers in Hatari!.

The racing footage actually holds up very well, as it blends stock footage, and actual location filming to create some very exciting sequences. Hawks always had a feel for action, and this is no exception.

Finally Hawks uses the familiar theme of a man being broken, defeated, and eventually redeemed by his work. Much of the plot revolves around Cagney's inability to get behind the wheel after being involved in a fatal crash. His character is a spiritual predecessor to Dean Martin in Rio Bravo, and Richard Barthelmess in Only Angels Have Wings.

The film is by no means a major work, but it's pretty solid.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#31 Post by sevenarts » Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:58 pm

The Early Howard Hawks Blog-a-Thon has now started. It will run from today, January 12, through January 23, during which time my blog will be devoted exclusively to the pre-Bringing Up Baby films of Howard Hawks, and I'll also be soliciting posts from other bloggers and critics. So please join in if you have something to say about these films, or simply read along and comment wherever you'd like. I'm looking forward to lots of great writing on these films.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#32 Post by wpqx » Sat Jan 17, 2009 1:07 am

Tiger Shark was considered a precursor to Jaws but seriously the film is less than perfect. Edward G. Robinson does a good enough job with the part. I recorded it off of TCM (as I did with The Crowd Roars) so if you keep up with their programming there's a chance it'll show again, but really a work only for completionists.

As far as pre-Baby Hawks I watched A Girl in Every Port last week and well this is a film you can't take too seriously otherwise your inner-feminist might run amuck. Still anything with Louise Brooks is worth watching.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#33 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 19, 2009 3:57 pm

I finally caught one of TCM bimonthly screenings of the Crowd Roars this morning and I'm sad to say I got to side with those who were disappointed. It really only seemed to come alive in the very last scene
SpoilerShow
when Cagney and his brother egg on the ambulance drivers to race to the hospital
Coming so close to the superior (and admittedly more serious) the Criminal Code and Scarface, this one feels justly overlooked. But speaking of overlooked, as highly as I regard Ball of Fire, I was shocked at how good Hawks' own musical remake, A Song is Born, was when I watched the new DVD release a few weeks ago--it may even be better than the Cooper/Stanwyck film, and this is coming from someone who ranks the original among Hawks' best!

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Matt
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Re: Howard Hawks

#34 Post by Matt » Tue May 19, 2009 4:12 pm

domino harvey wrote:it may even be better than the Cooper/Stanwyck film, and this is coming from someone who ranks the original among Hawks' best!
This time you've gone too far. Scott Eyman provides the sane person's assessment of the film.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#35 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 19, 2009 4:19 pm

My favorite Hawks film is Air Force, so I'm used to possessing the minority opinion by now!

Back to the Crowd Roars, I didn't even realize it when I DVR-ed it, but Indianapolis Speedway is a 1939 remake and is shockingly superior to the original in just every way. I think it goes a long way towards damning Hawks' film when Lloyd Bacon of all directors is running laps around him!

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Gregory
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Re: Howard Hawks

#36 Post by Gregory » Tue May 19, 2009 7:52 pm

An odd thing I've noticed about Hawks is that for every single film he made there's at least one person knowledgeable about Hawks's oeuvre who will value that film extremely highly. It seems to go beyond the much more common practice of half-heartedly sticking up for a reviled film by a great director by saying just that it's not all that terrible or that it had some good moments. An example of this is Glenn Erickson praising Land of the Pharaohs to the skies -- and not really as great camp but as great filmmaking. The only real exception to this that comes to mind is Rio Lobo. Anyone want to step forward and call that one a masterpiece?

Anyway, domino, what did you like so much about A Song is Born? It's probably as good a time as any to reassess it, what with the new DVD.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#37 Post by knives » Tue May 19, 2009 7:58 pm

Rio Lobo can't be any worse then Rio Bravo.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#38 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 19, 2009 8:52 pm

Gregory wrote:An odd thing I've noticed about Hawks is that for every single film he made there's at least one person knowledgeable about Hawks's oeuvre who will value that film extremely highly. It seems to go beyond the much more common practice of half-heartedly sticking up for a reviled film by a great director by saying just that it's not all that terrible or that it had some good moments. An example of this is Glenn Erickson praising Land of the Pharaohs to the skies -- and not really as great camp but as great filmmaking.
I had a professor who vigorously defended Monkey Business (to my eyes the worst Hawks film), but hated Bringing Up Baby! I think like Hitchcock or Preminger, Hawks' oeuvre gives different viewers different pleasures. I doubt any two people who've seen the majority of Hawks' work could produce the same Top 5. Even Hawks' weaker films prove to be at very least entertaining (Of the thirty Hawks films I've seen, only the Thing From Another Planet dragged for me), and that's honestly the only defense I could be able to muster for Land of the Pharaohs: As ridiculous as it all is, it's undeniably entertaining as hell!
Gregory wrote:Anyway, domino, what did you like so much about A Song is Born? It's probably as good a time as any to reassess it, what with the new DVD.
I went in very skeptical, so firstly the film had that most unpredictable of pluses in its column-- it exceeded low expectations. But as the film progressed and I realized it wasn't going to be awful, I found myself uncontrollably won over by the film. The switch from grammar to music not only works, it makes more sense than in the original, and the payoffs are more satisfying. I think the secret to enjoying the remake is realizing that unlike the original, it isn't very interested in laughs, so the pacing is different. The two leads of Kaye and Mayo, who are of limited range, function better in the roles than Cooper and Stanwyck (the exception here is Dan Duryea's weasly muscle-man, who is missed). The actors are very dynamic in the original, but in the remake the roles are more properly flat and subdued. Now, there's something to be said about star performances of course. Ball of Fire is, as I said, a great film. But the changes made by Hawks in the remake prove to be more satisfying choices on the whole.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#39 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:33 pm

Someone has uploaded a good copy of A Girl in Every Port on YouTube and I partook in it a couple days ago. Man, even this early in the game, Hawks has all the staples down, though I thought it was interesting that here the Hawksian skilled professionalism was less related to their adeptness at being sailors and more their effective Lotharioism! It was nice to see McLaglen outside of a Ford film, and he's very funny, though anyone else think he resembles a young Gary Cooper here?

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Re: Howard Hawks

#40 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:20 am

I saw it a couple of years ago and liked it very much. Of the three Hawks silents (Fazil and Fig Leaves being the others) I've seen, it certainly feels the most like a Hawks film. It's very much in line with films like Hatari! in terms of tone and theme. You have the rough and tumble friendship of the male leads, with a female intruder causing the tension and the backdrop of some dangerous and exciting profession for additional excitement. It's classic Hawks and like you said, Domino, it's already working quite well.

I do remember being a bit disappointed at the absence of Myrna Loy (despite it being listed in her filmography) in the film. Perhaps there are scenes missing from the copy(s) floating around?

As for his other silents, Fig Leaves is a pretty silly marital comedy in the mode of the Gloria Swanson-Cecil B. DeMille collaborations. The opening flashback to the garden of eden is fun enough, replete with some Die Nibelungen-esque dinosaurs, and some condescending humor about ladyfolk, but once if shifts to the modern day it never really goes anywhere. Fazil is a serious melodrama the problems of cross-cultural romance, this time a young French woman (Gretta Nissen) marries an Arab (Charles Farrell) and conflict ensues when it turns out she can't handle living in the desert. There is lots of soft-focus photography that is quite lovely, but a bit overdone and there is some really striking montage work, but like Fig Leaves there isn't really anything distinctly Hawksian about the tone of the film. It's very much the kind of film that was in vogue in the 1920's in the wake of Valentino's The Sheik, with the exotic male lover taking the white woman and showing her what love really is. What does make the film of interest is the tension that exists between the pedestrian plot and the self-consciously artful way in which the film was made. You get the sent that the film is trying to aspire to some artistic brilliance, an aspiration that seemed to in the air on the post-Sunrise Fox lot. This is particularly fascinating in light of Hawks' later refusal to refer to himself as an artist and his more direct approach to film-making.


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Re: Howard Hawks

#42 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:21 am

Just about every major film he did - I only wish they were screening The Big Sky, but that's nitpicking:

Howard Hawks: The Measure of Man

January 13, 2012 - April 17, 2012

This series celebrates the work of one of the most-loved directors of classical Hollywood cinema. A consummate professional, Howard Hawks (1896–1977) directed more than forty films, completing his first features at the end of the silent era. Often working as both director and independent producer, Hawks maintained his autonomy within the studio system, allowing him control over his own destiny as an artist. Influenced by John Ford, Ernst Lubitsch, and Josef von Sternberg, Hawks directed films in every Hollywood genre: screwball comedies, dramas, gangster films, action adventures, Westerns, science fiction, musical comedies. But no matter the genre, he would make a quintessentially Hawksian film.

Favoring a simple, clear visual style, Hawks was an action director par excellence; few filmmakers have rivaled his speed. Making the transition from silent to sound cinema, he found that he could use rapid-fire dialogue to increase narrative velocity. Yet he relied heavily on actions, not words, to convey his characters’ feelings. Hawks’s personal credo that “man is the measure of all things” motivates his filmmaking. First and foremost, the Hawksian hero is measured by his (and, less frequently, her) work, and professionalism and camaraderie are paramount in Hawks’s films.

Continuing through mid-April, this series surveys the full range of the director’s career, including several rarely screened silents. It demonstrates that, like a composer writing a theme and variations, Hawks repeatedly treats the same themes, situations, and actions, transposed from one genre to the next, with a remarkable unity of style.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#43 Post by isakborg » Thu May 30, 2013 7:22 am

Speaking of which, I seem to recall an HTF (?) forum in which a WB representative stated that they were working on "The Big Sky" (whether for archive - most likely - or full release - less likely was not mentioned). Somebody somewhere on this forum mentioned not more than a week ago that his contacts had told him that Archive was preparing Ray's "The Lusty Men", another film I've been waiting for. Perhaps somebody out there has information concerning the Hawks - still in work, dropped? I've seen the 2 1/2 hour long version on the Z channel many years ago, and wonder if delays involve the source material for that part of the film cut in the general release. It was in very poor shape in the Z channel print. The long version also contains some pretty repellent scenes that WB these days might not want to be associated with. E.g., Douglas and Dewey Martin trading joking one-liners back and forth as they each, in friendly competition, take aim and pick off one marauding Indian after another.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#44 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Fri May 31, 2013 3:32 am

Supposedly the only known copies of the long version are two 16mm prints created for armed forces screenings. Scorsese owns one and the other was used for the R2F release (which only uses it for the cut scenes, the rest of the film is from 35mm). TCM occasionally airs their own reconstruction of the long version that reportedly looks better than the R2F--it probably used Scorsese's print, since it was first shown as part of a series of Scorsese-selected films. It looks like they'll air it again on August 30th.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#45 Post by david hare » Fri May 31, 2013 6:09 am

You should ask Tag.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#46 Post by hearthesilence » Fri May 31, 2013 10:39 am

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:Supposedly the only known copies of the long version are two 16mm prints created for armed forces screenings. Scorsese owns one and the other was used for the R2F release (which only uses it for the cut scenes, the rest of the film is from 35mm). TCM occasionally airs their own reconstruction of the long version that reportedly looks better than the R2F--it probably used Scorsese's print, since it was first shown as part of a series of Scorsese-selected films. It looks like they'll air it again on August 30th.
Damn, thanks for the heads up!

Back in 2010, Lincoln Center actually screened the Film Foundation's restoration of The Big Sky, which most likely used Scorsese's 16mm print for the missing scenes. I couldn't see it - it was the day after Christmas and I wasn't in NY - but it hasn't been shown around here since. I've only seem crappy video copies of this film, so I'll definitely look forward to this.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#47 Post by Iamhere » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:34 pm

Saw this article on His Girl Friday and about it's dark tone: http://www.jeremyizzo.com/his-girl-friday-and-tone" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I wonder what does make the film work, ignoring the darker stuff? Is this the darkest of Hawks work?

I like hawks comedies, but I don't laugh out loud enough to recommend them to people. I find them charming and fun. I can watch them a lot, but I don't think I'll ever buy my own copy. I'm having a debate about whether Bringing up Baby or His Girl Friday is the best.

I found this: http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~03voroby/1224884.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; from Izzo's facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fighting ... 551?ref=hl" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
It's nice to see other opinions on screwball than cavell. Now i'm in a debate of who I agree with more, cavell or shumway.

Another blog on Bringing up baby: http://altscreen.com/06/20/2011/howard- ... ilm-forum/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Howard Hawks

#48 Post by Gregory » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:25 pm

Iamhere wrote:I found this: http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~03voroby/1224884.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; from Izzo's facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fighting ... 551?ref=hl" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
It's nice to see other opinions on screwball than cavell. Now i'm in a debate of who I agree with more, cavell or shumway.
There's been a decent amount published about screwball comedy that goes far beyond Cavell. For anyone interested in analysis of notions of marriage, the couple, desire, etc. in these films, I'd highly recommend Kathrina Glitre's book Hollywood Romantic Comedy: States of the Union 1934-65. The scope of the book is much broader than just screwball, but her second chapter is on the latter and engages closely with both Cavell and Shumway.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#49 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:31 pm

Gregory, does Glitre's book focus any on the Hollywood sex comedies of the early 60 (Doris Day, Sex and the Single Girl, etc)?

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Re: Howard Hawks

#50 Post by Matt » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:36 pm

I'm not Gregory, but yes. Check out the Google Books preview.

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