Howard Hawks

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El Dorado Review


Extraordinary
Howard Hawks's penultimate film is a canny reshuffling of his own Rio Bravo as he performs a loose and extended mediation on his favorite themes of loyalty and professionalism.

John Wayne plays Cole Thornton, a gun for hire claiming a job with a land-grabbing cattle baron (Ed Asner). Cole accepts the job until he finds out that his old pal J.P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum, in one of his finest late career performances) is the town sheriff. Cole switches sides but not before being shot by a put-upon rancher's daughter, Joey (Michele Carey), who thinks Cole is still working for Jason. With the bullet lodged near his spine, Cole rejects a risky operation and leaves town looking for work. A year later, Cole returns to town with a young, firebrand partner, Mississippi (James Caan), in tow to find that Jason has hired a legendary gang of gunslingers to force Joey's family off their ranch. Cole also discovers J.P. has deteriorated into a pathetic joke of a drunk after being thrown over by a dame (and Mitchum is not short of harrowing in his efforts to fight back his demons). But Jason's hired guns won't quit, so Cole along with Mississippi and J.P.'s obnoxious deputy Bull (Arthur Hunnicutt) try to head off the gang of hired guns. At the same time, Cole helps J.P. to pull out of his drunken stupor and regain his professionalism.

Continue reading: El Dorado Review

To Have And Have Not Review


Excellent
Lauren Bacall made her nerve-wracked screen debut in the memorable Howard Hawks film To Have and Have Not, put opposite the hugely famous Humphrey Bogart in a Casablanca-esque tale of intrigue in France during WWII. Bogart's crusty fisherman and Bacall's swindling lounge singer get roped into aiding the French resistance, but the plot is ultimately a throwaway -- having none of the depth of Casablanca. Instead, To Have and Have Not owes its success to some fiery chemistry between its leads as well as amazing supporting turns by Walter Brennan and Hoagy Carmichael. The jazzy tunes played in Bacall's bar are unforgettable, too. You know how to whistle, don't you?

The Big Sleep Review


Extraordinary
There's little else I can add to what's been written about this proto-noir, one of the archetypes of the genre and a showstopper for Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, who spar through a catty romance while dancing through a taut mystery that has dead bodies turning up at every turn. (Bogie is assigned to look after Bacall's kid sister, who's prone to trouble. Martha Vickers, as young Carmen, almost steals the show; pay attention to her underrated performance.) With Howard Hawks and William Faulkner in charge here, there's simply not much to complain about.

The Big Sleep Review


Extraordinary
There's little else I can add about this proto-noir, one of the archetypes of the genre and a showstopper for Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, who spar through a catty romance while dancing through a taut mystery that has dead bodies turning up at every turn. (Bogie is assigned to look after Bacall's kid sister, who's prone to trouble. Martha Vickers, as young Carmen, almost steals the show; pay attention to her underrated performance.) With Howard Hawks and William Faulkner in charge here, there's simply not much to complain about.

Bringing Up Baby Review


Weak
Screwball comedy is, in some sense, the most difficult of all types of comedy. Unlike physical comedy and straight farce, there's no real safety net, if the audience just doesn't follow or care about all the carrying-on displayed on screen, no matter how talented the performers or frantic the action, there just won't be much of anything that they'll find funny. Thusly does Bringing Up Baby fall flat on its face - not for lack of talent or effort, but for want of any good reason to exist.

Long before Hollywood suits thought it was a good idea to hide Freddie Prinze Jr.'s hottitude under a pair of spectacles (see Boys and Girls, if you dare), it was decided that for a change of pace, Cary Grant should be similarly four-eyed and socially reticent. And so he was cast in Bringing Up Baby as Dr. David Huxley, a nebbish scientist about to marry his icy prig of a colleague and who's been roped into wooing a rich potential donor to their museum. It's not that Grant can't play this guy, he pulls off the role just fine, but the whole enterprise seems reminiscent of covering a fine antique in layers of shellac or casting George Clooney as an antisocial computer hacker with poor fashion sense. Just because you can do it doesn't mean you should.

Continue reading: Bringing Up Baby Review

To Have And Have Not Review


Excellent
Lauren Bacall made her nerve-wracked screen debut in the memorable Howard Hawks film To Have and Have Not, put opposite the hugely famous Humphrey Bogart in a Casablanca-esque tale of intrigue in France during WWII. Bogart's crusty fisherman and Bacall's swindling lounge singer get roped into aiding the French resistance, but the plot is ultimately a throwaway -- having none of the depth of Casablanca. Instead, To Have and Have Not owes its success to some fiery chemistry between its leads as well as amazing supporting turns by Walter Brennan and Hoagy Carmichael. The jazzy tunes played in Bacall's bar are unforgettable, too. You know how to whistle, don't you?

Red River Review


Very Good
John Wayne stars in one of his most acclaimed films, Red River, opposite a young Montgomery Clift. Wayne is the tormenting rancher, driving his 9,000 head of cattle to Missouri to avoid bankruptcy; Clift is his adopted son, who grows increasingly antagonistic against dad's slave driving. Eventually, the cattle drive approaches a situation of mutiny, pitting father and son against one another.

Filled with beautiful black and white photography, especially for its era, Red River is an atmospheric ride a la Unforgiven, where it's hard to find a white-hat hero and a sense of dread surrounds the proceedings. Unfortunately, the film is hampered by a lame hoedown score, typical of 1940s Westerns, not to mention an atrocious "happy" ending that belies the emotion in the rest of the picture.

Continue reading: Red River Review

Rio Bravo Review


Very Good
Dean Martin as "Dude the Drunk," eh? Why not -- it works in Rio Bravo a favorite among Western enthusiasts that nonetheless is far too long, spending too long setting up the story before getting to the powerful finale. Wayne is good, but Dean-o steals the show along with Walter Brennan's crusty jailkeeper, who owns every scene he's in. A definitive piece of Americana by way of Howard Hawks, Rio Bravo is what the late 1950s studio system was all about.

Hatari! Review


Good
National Geographic gets a 2 1/2-hour plug with this John Wayne picture, a harmless yet extremely pregnant look at a safari team in East Africa.

Wayne plays Sean Mercer, the grizzled veteran behind a group tasked with collecting exotic animals ordered by various zoos. Along the way, he must contend with various minor crises - a female photographer wants to tag along, ostriches get loose, a baby elephant needs to be cared for.

Continue reading: Hatari! Review

Twentieth Century Review


Good
John Barrymore shines as the stubborn and eccentric theater director in this screwball comedy, a man who comes unhinged (and he's not fully hinged to begin with) when his leading lady (Carole Lombard) splits the show. He chases her across country on the fabled Twentieth Century train, with loads of absurdities on the way. Funny, but it gets too repetitious in the last act and slowly crumbles into the relatively obscure minor work it has become today.
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Howard Hawks Movies

Bringing Up Baby Movie Review

Bringing Up Baby Movie Review

Screwball comedy is, in some sense, the most difficult of all types of comedy. Unlike...

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