The following are another ten cards from my file on Howard Hawks pictures, still in the order in which I first saw them. Of course, I’ve seen a number of these films again, and some of them more than once again, in the years since 1970, when I stopped keeping up the card file. But Hawks certainly remains among my five most favorite directors.
I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE (1949; d: Howard Hawks).
1961: Exceptional- (Uproariously funny, fast, beautifully paced comedy about a Frenchman and an American Wac who fall in love, get married and go through a nightmare of red tape before they can go to bed together. Typically Hawksian view of an insane civilization that reverses male-female roles, darkly lit, magnificently played by Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan.)
HATARI! (1962; d: Howard Hawks).
1962: Excellent* (A personal, sophisticated, thoroughly delightful Hawks achievement, brilliantly photographed in Africa --- about a group of wild-game trappers and one hunting season in their lives. Charmingly acted, excellently written, tightly directed: a typically Hawksian comedy of danger.)
Added 1962: (More interesting and fascinating and entertaining this time than the first… The action-sequences alone are superior to most whole films; a personal, intriguing work.)
THE CRIMINAL CODE (1931; d: Howard Hawks).
1962: Very good (Hawks’ second sound film is an expertly handled study of prison life, filled with a grim gallows’ humor, and an underlying respect for the convicts and their code of honor; particularly well acted by Walter Huston, with fine support from Phillips Holmes, Boris Karloff, among others.)
Added 1967: (Not one of Hawks’ most personal films, but still a very well made work, with flashes of the director’s mordant wit, understated and effective.)
In my first film, Targets, shot this same year (1967), and starring Boris Karloff in what he liked to refer to as his last picture, we used a couple of clips of Karloff as a convict from The Criminal Code. Boris adlibbed a line to the effect that this was his “first really important part,” and of course we kept that in.
FIG LEAVES (1926; d: Howard Hawks).
1962: Very good (A strange, forthright, and simple burlesque of women and their fetish about clothes --- “I haven’t anything to wear” --- this silent Hawks picture --- his second as a director --- is skillful, witty, urban, and extremely well done…)
PAID TO LOVE (1927; d: Howard Hawks).
1962: Good* (Very well done, but impersonal Hawks film about a Parisian night club performer and the Prince who falls in love with her --- with some effective, if self-conscious, camerawork. Decidedly a contract job…)
1962: Excellent* (Hawks first love-adventure film about a couple of sailors and their strong friendship developed through rivalry and conflict: beautifully, simply directed, acted, written silent comedy-drama: personal and masculine.)
Added 1962: (This is really a fine Hawks film, his first truly personal work.)
VIVA VILLA! (1934; d: Jack Conway; uncredited: Howard Hawks).
1962: Good- (It is quite clear where Hawks leaves off and Conway begins, because the film turns from excellent to something less than mediocre. The exteriors --- all Hawks --- are striking, atmospheric and exciting; the script --- when it is not overly talky, is taut and has some pungent dialog, not always well delivered. Stu Erwin, who replaced Lee Tracy, is no substitute at all and Wallace Beery looks like Villa even if he is not always convincing in the part.)
Added 1969: (A split movie in its personality and quality, and therefore mainly interesting historically and as an example of a director’s effect on scripts.)