HOWARD HAWKS MOVIES
Hollywood's Grey Fox
He was a success in every genre, notably the first major director to tackle sci-fi, and yet they are all undeniably, unmistakably Howard Hawks.
A time machine, from comedy to tragedy and back taking us to the heart of a dream factory...
Rio Lobo (Cinema Center 12/70) John Wayne’s adventures as a Union colonel near the end of the Civil War with a poorly chosen and mostly forgettable cast due to budget problems of this obscure studio. Leigh Brackett’s dialogue is always interesting, and here it is still better than most of what John Wayne was given in the 70’s.
El Dorado (Paramount 6/67) Hawks and Leigh Brackett successfully rework elements of their Rio Bravo, with John Wayne again, but this time with Robert Mitchum as the drunken sheriff, James Caan as the new kid, and a villainous role for tv’s Ed Asner.
Red Line 7000 (Paramount 11/65) The life and loves of racers on the stock car circuit includes an early lead role James Caan and a significant role for Star Trek’s George Takei as the head of the pit crew. Hawks’ eye for young talent and ear for believable dialogue desert him here. Also featuring Hawks’ worst musical number, proving he had a tin ear for the modern rock sounds of 1965.
Man’s Favorite Sport (Universal 3/64) Rock Hudson is a fishing expert who can’t fish, and gets entered into a fishing tournament by the girl, Paula Prentiss. This time the girl has a pal, a French girl named Easy. Best bit is the bear on a moped near Lake Wakapoogie.
Hatari (Paramount 6/62) John Wayne in Africa capturing big game for American zoos has remarkable action sequences with John Wayne and a wild rhino, more snappy dialogue from Leigh Brackett, and Henry Mancini’s classic Baby Elephant Walk.
Rio Bravo (Warner Bros. 4/4/59) Hawks’ timeless classic is an answer to the earlier High Noon, with sheriff John Wayne constantly refusing the help of those around him, whose numbers include Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan and Ricky Nelson. It’s all about the relationships.
O. HENRY'S FULL HOUSE
A SONG IS BORN
Land Of The Pharaohs (Warner Bros. 7/2/55) Hawks’ only film in Cinemascope is an epic with a cast of thousands about the construction of a great pyramid, with the engineering details and the finale being major points of interest. The only Hawks movie with dislikable characters, especially a greedy Joan Collins.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Twentieth Century Fox 8/53) The musical that made Marilyn Monroe a superstar as the dumb blonde, later copied by Madonna the Material Girl in 1984.
Monkey Business (Twentieth Century Fox 9/52) Cary Grant takes a youth serum mixed by a chimp, and chases around dumb blonde secretary Marilyn Monroe. Then he takes the drug with his wife Ginger Rogers. Musical bits in this 50’s screwball comedy include a children’s war dance.
O’Henry’s Full House (Twentieth Century Fox 9/52) Ransom Of Red Chief segment only: Comedy short concerning two bumbling gangsters who kidnap a little boy who is so obnoxious, they pay his hillbilly parents to take him back. Kathleen Freeman as the hillbilly ma, had a career in comedy which stretched to her evil nun at the beginning of The Blues Brothers (1980).
The Big Sky (RKO 8/52) Two men join an exploration on a riverboat up the Missouri in 1830 and peacefully encounter Indians. Typical first rate adventure starring Kirk Douglas, highlighted by the daily routine of the riverboat team.
The Thing (RKO 51) As producer, Hawks gave the directing credits to his assistant Christian Nyby. A team of scientists in the Arctic thaw out cinema’s first extra terrestrial. Remade in 1982, it was the major influence of Alien with Sigourney Weaver, according to its screenwriter Walter Hill.
I Was A Male War Bride (Twentieth Century Fox 9/49) Comedy with Cary Grant as a French officer just married to Ann Sheridan, an American officer, and dressing in drag in order to be with her. Reviews of the day warned this was not for the prudish.
A Song Is Born (United Artists 11/6/48) Hawks directed his first Technicolor film, a remake of his own Ball Of Fire, as a favor to producer Sam Goldwyn, changing the professors to jazz musicians that included Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman. Starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo.
Red River (United Artists 8/20/48) Classic John Wayne western featuring arguably his finest film performance, also notable for Montgomery Clift's first film role, and watchable both for the action and the character study.
The Big Sleep (Warner Bros. 8/31/46) As Philip Marlow in this film noir, Humphrey Bogart's snappy dialogue with Lauren Bacall crackles with sexual energy unheard in film until the more permissive 60's, co-written by Leigh Brackett who went on to write The Empire Strikes Back (1980). The archetypal black and white mystery thriller was remade in 1977 with Robert Mitchum.
To Have And Have Not (Warner Bros. 1/20/45) The film debut of Lauren Bacall began an off screen romance with co-star Humphrey Bogart which lasted until his death. This World War II thriller is all about the atmosphere, the production values, and the insolence of its two main characters, with typically great support from Walter Brennan. Remade in 1950 and 1958.
Corvette K-225 (Universal 43) Hawks served as producer only on this story with Randolph Scott as a Canadian submarine commander in the Atlantic during World War II.
Air Force (Warner Bros. 3/20/43) An academy award went to the editor of this story of the men who flew a B-17 bomber in the Pacific during World War II. Arguably the best film about World War II made during World War II, and more tense and exciting action.
Ball Of Fire (United Artists 1/9/42) A rare Oscar nomination for a lead actress in a comedy role went to Barbra Stanwyck in the Oscar nominated script which was the last film written by Billy Wilder before he became a writer/director. The comedy centers on a team of 8 professors writing an encyclopedia, and a gangster’s girl hiding out with them. Great use of slang throughout the movie, and a great nightclub bit with drummer Gene Krupa. Remade by Hawks in 1948.
Sergeant York (Warner Bros. 9/9/41) This was Hawks’ only academy award nomination for directing, and was a Best Actor winner for Gary Cooper in the title role, and for its editing. It’s a patriotic story of a Tennessee pacifist who becomes a World War I hero. A commercial and critical prestige picture of its day.
The Outlaw (United Artists began 40, released 43) Hawks quit filming after 10 days to work on Sgt. York, so producer Howard Hughes completed it himself. Hughes did not have Hawks’ command of pace or dialogue, but there is interest in Walter Huston’s performance, and in Gregg Toland’s photography, especially of Jane Russell and her bosom.
His Girl Friday (Columbia 1/18/40) Remake of The Front Page (1931) changing the reporter to a woman, thereby creating a romantic interest, and the finest example of comic rapid fire dialogue, with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.
Only Angels Have Wings (Columbia 5/25/39) The film that made Rita Hayworth a star. Exciting action sequences highlight the adventures of a team of cargo pilots flying over the Andes, lead by Cary Grant.
Bringing Up Baby (RKO 2/18/38) Classic screwball comedy with Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, George the Dog, a dinosaur, and a missing bone. Not a hit in its day.
Come And Get It (United Artists 10/29/36) Hawks said the best actress he worked with is Frances Farmer, and you’ll understand why in this grade A production of Wisconsin loggers, highlighted by outstanding outdoor action scenes of men at work. Also with the archetypal bar room brawl, Frances singing the tune that later became Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender, and the first academy award for supporting actor to Walter Brennan.
The Road To Glory (Twentieth Century Fox 6/2/36) Adventures of the French army in World War I. Production values, especially Gregg Toland’s photography, are typically first rate.
Ceiling Zero (Warner Bros. 1/25/36) A second great star vehicle for James Cagney as an irresponsible commercial airline pilot, paired for the first of 8 times with pal Pat O’Brien. Remade in 1939.
Barbary Coast (United Artists 9/27/35) This atmospheric Ben Hecht melodrama about San Francisco’s gold rush days provides the first supporting role for Walter Brennan and a terrific performance from Edward G. Robinson looking like he’s ready to party like its 1899.
Twentieth Century (Columbia 5/11/34) The film that made Carole Lombard a superstar. The archetypical romantic screwball comedy to take two established stars (Lombard and John Barrymore) and allowing them to ham it up with no restraint is a formula for success still used today.
Viva Villa (MGM 34) Wallace Beery in a big budget action drama as legendary rebel Pancho Villa. Hawks was fired after disastrous location shooting in Mexico. Nominated for Best Picture and for Ben Hecht’s script.
The Prizefighter And The Lady (MGM 33) Real life boxer Max Baer with Myrna Loy as a high class gangster’s girl in an Oscar nominated script by Francis Marion. Hawks was replaced on this project which he originally planned for Clark Gable and Jean Harlow.
Today We Live (MGM 3/3/33) Hawks’ only weak film of the 30’s or 40’s. MGM forced friend and lover Joan Crawford on him at the last minute, and he was unable to salvage a decent rewrite, turning the action story with Gary Cooper into a stilted romance.
Tiger Shark (Warner Bros. 9/24/32) Edward G. Robinson as a one armed tuna fisherman with terrific action sequences of tuna fisherman at work.
The Crowd Roars (Warner Bros. 4/16/32) James Cagney as a race car driver with racing footage reused in 1939 remake. Three major racing sequences.
Scarface (United Artists made 1930 released 4/9/32 due to censorship problems) Landmark film loosely based on Al Capone With executive producer Howard Hughes, Hawks made a dark and wild gangster thriller like no other of its time. Remade by Brian DePalma with Al Pacino 1983.
TRENT'S LAST CASE
THE AIR CIRCUS
PAID TO LOVE
The Criminal Code (Columbia 1/15/31) Walter Huston as a tough district attorney turned prison warden, also nominated for its script, and for a second non-horror supporting role for Boris Karloff.
The Dawn Patrol (Warner Bros. 7/10/30) Academy award for best original story, for life among a group of World War I aviators, with Hawks credited as a stunt pilot. Aerial footage reused in 1938 remake.
Trent’s Last Case (Fox 3/31/29) A murder mystery about a man who commits suicide in such a way as to cast doubt on his wife and his secretary, who loves her. (Film is lost.)
THE CRADLE SNATCHERS
A GIRL IN EVERY PORT
The Air Circus (Fox 9/30/28) Two young men at flying school overcome their fear and recklessness in the air with the help of a pretty aviatrix.
(Film is lost.)
Fazil (Fox 6/4/28) An Arab chieftan marries a Parisienne, but she rebels at her life in the desert, and they both die as a result of their quarrel.
(Film is lost.)
A Girl in Every Port (Fox 2/26/28) Two sailors and a series of women, with Victor MacLachlan, and Louise Brooks who then became a silent film icon in two German features. The action comedy elements are ahead of their time.
Paid to Love (Fox 7/23/27) An American banker befriends the crown prince of a Balkan kingdom and finds him a wife in an apache café. (Film is lost.)
The Cradle Snatchers (Fox 5/28/27) to cure their flirtatious husbands, three wives arrange with college boys to flirt with them at a party, and the husbands arrive with flappers in tow.
(Film is lost.)
Fig Leaves (Fox released 8/22/26) After an Adam and Eve prologue, a modern New York couple have marital problems, surviving only in poor quality bootlegs, it’s a shame to waste the art direction of William Cameron Menzies.
THE ROAD TO GLORY
The Road To Glory (Fox Film Corporation 7/2/26) May McAvoy is a woman who is blinded in an auto accident and relies on prayer to regain her sight. This is Hawks' first film as a director and is now lost.