Howard Hawks - Career As A Film Director - Later Sound Films

Later Sound Films

In 1934 Hawks went to Columbia Pictures to make his first screwball comedy, Twentieth Century, starring John Barrymore and Hawks's distant cousin Carole Lombard. The film was based on a stage play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, and along with Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (released the same year) is considered to be the defining film of the screwball comedy genre. In 1935 Hawks made Barbary Coast with Edward G. Robinson and Miriam Hopkins. In 1936 he made the aviation adventure Ceiling Zero with James Cagney and Pat O'Brien. Also in 1936, Hawks began filming Come and Get It, starring Edward Arnold, Joel McCrea, Frances Farmer and Walter Brennan. But he was fired by Samuel Goldwyn in the middle of shooting and the film was completed by William Wyler.

In 1938 Hawks made the screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby for RKO Pictures. The film starred Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn and has been called "the screwiest of the screwball comedies" by film critic Andrew Sarris. In the film, Grant plays a near-sighted paleontologist who suffers one humiliation after another due to the lovestruck socialite played by Hepburn. The film was unsuccessful when initially released but has gradually become regarded as Hawks's masterpiece. Hawks followed this with the aviation drama Only Angels Have Wings, again starring Cary Grant and made in 1939 for Columbia Pictures. The film also starred Jean Arthur, Thomas Mitchell, Rita Hayworth and Richard Barthelmess.

In 1940 Hawks returned to the screwball comedy genre with His Girl Friday, starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. The film was an adaptation of the hit Broadway play The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, which had already been made into a film in 1931. In 1941 Hawks made Sergeant York, starring Gary Cooper as a pacifist farmer who becomes a decorated World War I soldier. The film was the highest-grossing film of 1941 and won two Academy Awards (Best Actor and Best Editing), as well as earning Hawks his only nomination for Best Director. Later that year Hawks re-teamed with Cooper for Ball of Fire, also starring Barbara Stanwyck. The film was written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett and is playfully based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In the film, Cooper plays a sheltered, intellectual linguist who is writing an encyclopedia with six other scientists, and hires street-wise Stanwyck to help them with modern slang terms. In 1941 Hawks began work on the Howard Hughes produced (and later directed) film The Outlaw, based on the life of Billy the Kid and starring Jane Russell. Hawks completed initial shooting of the film in early 1941, but due to perfectionism and battles with the Hollywood Production Code, Hughes continued to re-shoot and re-edit the film until it was finally released in 1943, with Hawks uncredited as director.

After making the World War II film Air Force in 1943 starring John Garfield, Hawks made two films with Hollywood and real life lovers Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. To Have and Have Not, made in 1944, stars Bogart, Bacall and Walter Brennan and is based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway. Hawks was a close friend of Hemingway and made a bet with the author that he could make a good film out of Hemingway's "worst book". Hawks, William Faulkner and Jules Furthman collaborated on the script about a French fishing boat captain and various situations of espionage during the Fall of France in 1940. Bogart and Bacall fell in love on the set of the film and married soon afterwards. Hawks re-teamed with the newlyweds in 1946 with The Big Sleep, based on the Philip Marlowe detective novel by Raymond Chandler.

In 1948, Hawks made Red River, an epic western reminiscent of Mutiny on the Bounty starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift in his first film. Later that year, Hawks remade his earlier film Ball of Fire as A Song Is Born, this time starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. This version of the film follows the same plot but pays more attention to popular jazz music and includes such jazz legends as Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, and Benny Carter playing themselves. In 1949 Hawks re-teamed with Cary Grant in the screwball comedy I Was a Male War Bride, also starring Ann Sheridan.

In 1951, he produced - and some believe essentially directed - the science fiction film The Thing from Another World. He followed this with the 1952 western film The Big Sky, starring Kirk Douglas. Later in 1952 Hawks re-teamed with Cary Grant for the fifth and final time in the screwball comedy Monkey Business, also starring Marilyn Monroe and Ginger Rogers. Grant plays a scientist reminiscent of his character in Bringing up Baby, who creates a formula that increases his vitality. Film critic John Belton called the film Hawks's "most organic comedy." Hawks's third film of 1952 was a contribution to the omnibus film O. Henry's Full House, which includes short films based on the stories by the writer O. Henry made by various directors. Hawks's short film The Ransom of Red Chief starred Fred Allen, Oscar Levant and Lee Aaker.

In 1953, Hawks made Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which featured Marilyn Monroe famously singing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." The film starred Monroe and Jane Russell as two gold digging, cabaret performer best friends that many critics point out is Hawks's only female version of his celebrated "buddy film" genre. In 1955 Hawks made an atypical Land of the Pharaohs, a Sword-and-sandal epic about ancient Egypt and starring Jack Hawkins and Joan Collins. The film was Hawks's final collaboration with longtime friend William Faulkner before the author's death. In 1959 Hawks re-teamed with John Wayne in Rio Bravo, also starring Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan as four marshal's "defending the fort" of their local jail where a local criminal is awaiting a trial and his family attempt to break him out. Film critic Robin Wood has said if he "were asked to choose a film that would justify the existence of Hollywood...it would be Rio Bravo."

In 1962 Hawks made Hatari!, again with John Wayne as a big game hunter in Africa. In 1964 Hawks made his final comedy, Man's Favorite Sport?, which starred Rock Hudson (since Cary Grant felt he was too old for the role) and Paula Prentiss. Hawks then returned to his childhood passion for car races with Red Line 7000 in 1965. the film starred a young James Caan in his first leading role. Hawks's final two films were both Western remakes of Rio Bravo starring John Wayne. In 1967 Hawks made El Dorado, starring Wayne, Robert Mitchum and James Caan. In 1970 he made Rio Lobo, with Wayne, Jorge Rivero and Jack Elam.

Read more about this topic:  Howard Hawks, Career As A Film Director

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