Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Howard Hawks: Scarface, Rio Bravo, Ball of Fire

Short on time today, so lets go for a classic auteur who needs little introduction: Howard Hawks.  Unlike some directors who specialized in genres, Hawks directed several classic films in diverse genres.  In the list below there's a gangster film, a romantic comedy, a musical, and a western. For those of you unfamiliar with Hawks (although you probably are more familiar with him than you realize) check out this essay at Senses of Cinema.

Scarface (Howard Hawks, USA, 1932, 93 minutes)
Netflix: Mobster Tony Camonte (Paul Muni) seizes control of Chicago's bootlegging racket in this classic crime drama, which also stars George Raft, Boris Karloff and Osgood Perkins (Anthony Perkins's father). From director Howard Hawks and producer Howard Hughes, Scarface set the benchmark for future gangster films. Karen Morley portrays Camonte's love interest and Ann Dvorak the gangster's beloved sister. Netflix link.

Ball of Fire (Howard Hawks, USA, 1941, 111 minutes)
Netflix: Gary Cooper plays a serious but lovable English professor working with his colleagues on a dictionary of American slang. When a red-hot nightclub singer (Barbara Stanwyck) on the run from the mob takes refuge in their house, she also finds a place in their hearts. But where there's a ball of fire there's bound to be trouble, and before they know it, the professor and his cohorts are learning a lot about language -- and life. Howard Hawks directs. Netflix link.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, USA, 1953, 91 minutes)
Netflix: Two American showgirls in the mood for love board a luxury liner to Paris. Engaged to be married, fair-haired Lorelei (Marilyn Monroe) is unknowingly tracked by a private investigator who was hired by her future father-in-law. But the detective only has eyes for her brunette friend, Dorothy (Jane Russell). Based on the Broadway musical starring Carol Channing, the film features the memorable tune "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." Netflix link.

Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, USA, 1959, 141 minutes)
Netflix: Sheriff John Wayne has a problem: He must keep killer Claude Akins from escaping the town lockup (with outside help from his brother and a cadre of hired guns). The only people Wayne can call on for support are an alcoholic Dean Martin, a well-meaning Angie Dickinson, a crippled Walter Brennan and an eager Ricky Nelson. Netflix link.

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