Howard Hawks

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Iamhere
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Re: Howard Hawks

#51 Post by Iamhere » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:22 pm

Never heard of that book. Looks great. Screwball seems to be a tired term. I'm not really sure what it means anymore. It seems like saying a "gangster" film which after reading steve neales book on genre it looks like there are only three or four true "gangster" films (hawks directing one of them). He makes a good point. The same seems to go for screwball as many are now thrown into the group.

Is it like Film noir...a genre based solely on tone?

I think the sex comedies of the 60s don't share the same tone. The last screwball (as far as my own small opinion goes) was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes even though it's a "musical"

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Gregory
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Re: Howard Hawks

#52 Post by Gregory » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:59 pm

Yeah, questions of genre and definition seem to me too huge to tackle. I'll leave it to those writing essay and book-length works dealing with those matters, though just yesterday here there was some discussion (again) of what noir is in relation to Welles. And not only what belongs within a genre comes up in our genre list projects on the forum, and it's clear that no two members will have exactly the same understanding of genre. I think it's hard not to deal with the vagueness by slipping into too loose a definition. Many of the studios (such as Sony with their film noir and screwball sets) will market things under that banner that really don't fit, but some may disagree.

Screwball had a heyday before World War II but then continued to be present in comedies into the '50s and beyond, in my opinion. One of the last ones in the period before the New Hollywood of the '60s was Hawks's Man's Favorite Sport, a tribute to Bringing Up Baby that wasn't even in the same realm as that one, and could understandably be considered a failure, but I couldn't help but enjoy certain things about it. There have been occasional revivals of screwball post-Classical Hollywood too of course.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#53 Post by Iamhere » Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:45 pm

Seeing the picture of the article on the hompage:http://www.jeremyizzo.com/ reminded me of that shot.
It's the only real drastic angle hawks ever used in that film or any other. He doesn't mention it in the article but that is a drastic change in tone. Even his film noir Big Sleep doesn't have harsh angles like that. That whole scene in the jail is haunting the way he stays out of the cage.
If we are to believe that noir started a year after His Girl Friday than we can say the influence comes from German Expressionism. But could we just say that these thin termed genres aren't really sub divisions of types but instead just historical art movements like expressionism, realism, surrealism, construtionism, poetic realism and so on.

Because for some reason Hawks put equally fast talking witty dialogue in The Big Sleep as he did in His Girl Friday yet the tone seems darker than that "noir."

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Gregory
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Re: Howard Hawks

#54 Post by Gregory » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:18 pm

I wasn't sure what you meant by "that shot" at first because I didn't see any earlier discussion of it, but going to the site you mention I see the His Girl Friday shot you must be referring to. Hawks was very restrained with camerawork, making his style more about the "world" put in front of the camera, the dialogue, his actors, and the style of their performances and interaction than about trademark uses of camera angles, camera movement, elaborate montage, etc. Still, it's not quite true that the shot in question was the only time he used extreme angles. That great scene in Rio Bravo comes to mind, where Chance and Dude go into the bar to find the man with mud on his boots. The way Hawks used the space there created great suspense. Lesser filmmakers move the camera around for no real reason and put it way above the actors for no effective reason, but Hawks wasn't the kind to do it just to do it.

As for moments of darkness in the comedies, Hawks liked to blend tones and genres and not making conventional comedies based on joke material, and he liked to insert elements of comedy into films that were ostensibly not comedies. Robin Wood's book on Hawks (the first written about the director, I believe) argued that Scarface was a comedy, for example.

And yeah, I think film noir is more of a style, tendency, or mode of filmmaking than a genre (conventionally speaking); the genre would be crime. I think it's closely related to melodrama as well, but that opens another question of how to define a genre.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#55 Post by Iamhere » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:38 pm

It's funny. My first introduction to Hawks was Rio Bravo because my Dad loved Wayne. It wasn't until latter (much latter) i realized how truly awesome Rio Bravo was (most likely because I was watching for Hawks like style). As a kid I thought it was just another Wayne western action movie, but as I learned I noticed how good of a real film it is.

That silent opening, the sing along and the scene you mentioned.

I think the reason why Hawks is well liked is for the reasons you mentioned of him blending things together. I think it goes to show he wasn't interested in being an artist as much as he was interested in entertaining and telling a story smoothly.

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Gregory
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Re: Howard Hawks

#56 Post by Gregory » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:49 pm

I just found this in Joseph McBride's great interview book, Hawks on Hawks.
McBride: Some of your comedies actually get pretty grim at times. ... The predicaments the people get into become rather harrowing. Bringing up Baby, particularly in the later scenes is so dark photographically, it's lit almost like a tragedy.
Hawks: Well, it was pretty sad for Cary Grant going around on his hands and knees looking for a bone.
How do you write comic dialogue?
I don't use funny lines. They're not funny unless you see them. ... They become funny because of their attitudes, because of the attitudes that work against what they're trying to say. And to me, that's the funniest comedy in the world. In Rio Bravo, the fellow in jail said about Walter Brennan, "Look, that guy, he—don't trust him! He'll shoot me! He's crazy!" Brennan laughed. He thought that was marvelous, to be called crazy. He said, "You know, I'm just nuts!" People laughed at that. Because usually the idea is for a man when he's called crazy to get angry.
There's a lot more in there about comedy.

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Red River

#57 Post by Iamhere » Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:29 pm

I watched this last night with my dad...my God How I forgotten how amazing and perfect this film is. Hawks first western and it's a great. I want to talk about it so badly. And what a performance by wayne in all black,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_pvgtMm0mg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Matt
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Re: Red River

#58 Post by Matt » Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:46 pm

Iamhere wrote:I want to talk about it so badly.
So talk instead of posting a string of banalities.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#59 Post by Kauno » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:32 pm

Matt, you are mean without realizing it. Everyone cannot master English and then one tends to make "stupid" posts. I for myself love you as my brother, but maybe state it wrong, because English language does not work the way I assume.

I'm with Iamhere, Red River is an amazing and perfect film. I love the cattle drive.

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Matt
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Re: Howard Hawks

#60 Post by Matt » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:50 pm

I don't intend to be mean, but I do intend to maintain the standards of this forum. There are plenty of people on this forum who engage in meaningful discussion without having mastered English and I'm grateful for their contributions. All I'm asking is for people (new members especially) to make some effort to contribute to a discussion instead of posting empty platitudes. If someone says they want to talk about a film "so badly" but have nothing more to say than that the film is "amazing," "great," and "perfect," they should expect to be pressed to elaborate.

This statement has been at the top of the Forum Rules post for several years and I still stand by it:
Matt wrote:Don't just post, read others' posts. The great Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen." Some people have a tendency to treat internet discussion forums as their own personal showcase. Our forum has members of all ages from all over the world. Instead of filling threads with half-baked opinions and provocations, humble yourself and remember that several hundred people read this forum every day. New members especially can learn a lot just by sitting back and reading existing posts. Don't feel compelled to post your opinion on everything in every thread. Get familiar with the forum before you start firing off what might turn out to be irrelevant questions or comments or minutiae that clutters up the board to the detriment of other users. Those who do so may be asked to rein in their garrulous tendencies and may be suspended if it continues.

Iamhere
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Re: Howard Hawks

#61 Post by Iamhere » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:46 pm

Okay,

anyway; I think where Hawks shines in Red River is the significance of camera movement which is only used with purpose. Camera movement can be over done and become less important, but in this film every movement seems to count (the dolly in on Tom as he doubts himself, the pan in the hotel room releasing us of danger and the tracking shot to the duel keeping with the excitement).

It must have been shocking for Wayne to dress in all black and be a darker character with white hair...Something he hadn't done to that point.

However does anyone have any thoughts on why Tess would look like she's in mourning? The wardrobe seems well thought out to show their place in time, doppelgangers or psychology.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#62 Post by dustybooks » Tue Jul 16, 2013 1:31 pm

I saw The Dawn Patrol last night via Archive disc and was quite taken with it -- it seemed very much of a piece to me with All Quiet on the Western Front and was much less superficial than the similarly themed Wings. I especially liked the structure of cyclical dread as one commanding officer pulling his hair out over sending men to die gave way to another, and the detail of listening carefully for the number of planes returning to the base to learn how many men had died. Also thought the antiwar sentiment was subtly but strongly handled (particularly in the sequence of Fairbanks meeting the German who shot him down).

I have very little experience with Hawks outside of his comedies (and the Bogart films) but I understand this is in the lower tier of his action and war pictures, in which case I'm anxious to explore further.

Iamhere
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Re: Howard Hawks

#63 Post by Iamhere » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:14 pm

Never seen it. I have seen Wings and thought of it as a minor work. I find the anti war theme funny as Hawks went on to direct Sargent York which is in my opinion one of the most patriotic films that strives for the importance of war and labor.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#64 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:21 pm

Air Force and the aforementioned Sgt York should definitely be your next stops with Hawk then, dustybooks!

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Cold Bishop
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Re: Howard Hawks

#65 Post by Cold Bishop » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:13 pm

The Dawn Patrol is Hawk's first masterpiece, and despite some pre-talkie creakiness, it edges pretty close to its two more famed successors (Only Angels Have Wings and Air Force). It's tough and unsentimental, and here the Hawks Unit and Hawks Professional arrive fully formed.

If you want to make one hell of a triple bill, pair it with William Dieterle's The Last Flight and William Wellman's Heroes for Sale. If you allow for some discrepancies and some miracles, it plays like a great American epic.

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Gregory
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Re: Howard Hawks

#66 Post by Gregory » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:19 pm

Only Angels Have Wings is superb and moving and shouldn't be missed even by those who may otherwise balk at a film about pilots. Not that a film co-starring Cary Grant and Jean Arthur should need any other recommendation.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#67 Post by Jonathan S » Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:27 am

Iamhere wrote:I find the anti war theme funny as Hawks went on to direct Sargent York which is in my opinion one of the most patriotic films that strives for the importance of war and labor.
Even auteurs (and especially those working in the studio system) were influenced by prevailing attitudes.

1930 was arguably the highpoint of the inter-war pacifist movement - reflected in films like Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front, Whale's Journey's End, Asquith's Tell England, Pabst's Westfront 1918, etc.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#68 Post by Iamhere » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:30 pm

I suppose that could be true that he wasn't interested in the theme, however his political views did coincide with walter brennans and waynes which were pro war. If there was one film that was largely controlled outside of hawks it would be "York" as the man himself was watching like(no pun intended) a hawk.... anyone know why Hawks agreed to do the picture if he didn't agree with the message?

Oddly enough this is the only time Hawks was nominated for an Oscar. Just wrong. Should have at least go something for "Red River", that seems easy enough or "His Girl Friday."

Hawks gets a lot of attention for his interst in gender and relationship struggles (excellent interview on that: http://www.movingimagesource.us/articles/bringing-up-hawks-20080925) but what about the subject of war? Does it just tie into gender issues for Hawks, where the plot of war is just a ploy for these other themes? That's my thoughts. "york" is another story about a man that must grow up and become a man.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#69 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:41 pm

Hawks is concerned above all else with the best, the experts (the "Hawksian hero"), so being good at warfare is just par for the course with his existent concerns

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Re: Howard Hawks

#70 Post by Iamhere » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:43 pm

I like that answer a lot. It puts it more simply than anything else. All his characters are concerned with being the best, no matter what it takes. Which explains yet another layer for Dunsons in "Red River" and even further back to Cary Grant's David in "Bringing up baby" as he struggles to put the bones together.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#71 Post by knives » Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:06 am

And keeping things specific to York I suspect his interest at the time was in how a man could perfectly embody those two sides of Americana professionally and with little contraindication (the sides being Christian pacifism and the great soldier). This leaves the film to me to be more complex than Hawks probably intended as I think he just respected York's follow through on his beliefs.

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Re: Howard Hawks

#72 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:19 pm

For those with access to That Site Which Shall Not Be Mentioned, Hawks' partially-lost Cradle Snatchers (which only survives in a truncated form missing a reel and a half) has surfaced :shock:

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knives
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Re: Howard Hawks

#73 Post by knives » Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:45 pm

Such good news (even if it is an imperfect choice for a first Hawks silent).

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Re: Howard Hawks

#74 Post by Mark Metcalf » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:01 pm

I'm searching for any review of Hawk's 'Road to Glory' DVD-R, and can't find any. Has anybody seen it?

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Re: Howard Hawks

#75 Post by Iamhere » Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:29 pm

Back to the conversation of Hawks and politics: Can't it be said that "His Girl Friday" takes a political stance in it's dealings?

Also: I had watch "Rio Lobo" last night (I haven't seen it sense I was 13, nearly 9 years ago) and I still enjoyed it. In that film his stance on Womens rights is much stronger than ever! There is 3 major lead actresses that get involved in the plotting, one gives a speech about being eyed down and drooled over and in the end the woman (whom we first see topless) is scarred by a laughing evil man...only to be shot down by her, she takes control again over her face which men google over.

Also in "Rio Lobo" is a stronger stance on race as our main hero is half mexica had half french, with a southern being with a mexican.... all as our heroes. Meanwhile one of our villains is albino (can't get much whiter than that) and his name is "whitey."

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