Howard Hawks  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Howard Winchester Hawks (May 30, 1896December 26, 1977) was an American film director, producer and writer of the classic Hollywood era. He died in Palm Springs, California, after a fall. He is known for such films as Scarface (1932).



Born in Goshen, Indiana, Howard was the first-born child of Frank W. Hawks and the former Helen Howard. After the birth of Howard's first brother, Kenneth Neil Hawks, on August 12, 1899, the family moved to Neenah, Wisconsin. Shortly after they moved again, to Southern California.

Hawks attended high school in Glendora, and then moved to New Hampshire to attend Phillips Exeter Academy from 1912-1914. After graduation, Hawks moved on to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he majored in mechanical engineering. During the summers of 1916 and 1917, Howard worked on some early movies, interning for the Famous Players-Lasky Studio. After graduation he joined the United States Army Air Service during World War I.

After the war, he worked at a number of jobs: race-car driver, aviator, designer in an aircraft factory. By 1924 he had moved back to Hollywood and joined the movie industry. He chummed with the barn stormers and pioneer aviators at Rogers Airport in Los Angeles, getting to know men like Moye Stephens. Hawks wrote his first screenplay, Tiger Love, in 1924 and he directed his first film, The Road to Glory, in 1925. Hawks reworked the scripts of most of the films he directed but without taking official credit for his writing.

Howard Hawks directed a total of eight silent films, including Fazil in 1928. Unlike some of his fellow silent-film directors, he was able to make the transition to sound without difficulty, and his most important films were all done with the spoken word. A partial list includes:

Hawks was known for his versatility as a director, filming comedies, dramas, gangster films, science fiction, film noir, and Westerns with equal ease and skill. Hawks' own functional definition of what constitutes a "good movie" is revealing of his no-nonsense style: "Three great scenes, no bad ones."Template:Fact

Hawks was in many ways ahead of his time. While not politically feminist or sympathetic to their goals, he popularized the Hawksian woman archetype, which could be considered a prototype of the modern post-feminist movement. At the same time, Hawks was known to make anti-semitic comments, including in front of Jewish actress Lauren Bacall, who kept her Jewish identity a secret from Hawks and who did not call him on his hateful comments, both of which she has said she regrets now.[1]

Critic Leonard Maltin has labeled Hawks "the greatest American director who is not a household name," noting that, while his work may not be as well known as Ford, Welles, or Hitchcock, he is no less a talented filmmaker.Template:Fact

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Howard Hawks has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1708 Vine Street.

Hawks once defined a good director as "someone who doesn't annoy you".Template:Fact His unpretentious and straightforward directorial style and the use of natural, conversational dialogue in his films have subsequently been a major influence on many noted filmmakers, including Robert Altman, John Carpenter, and Quentin Tarantino. He was nominated for Best Director in 1942 for Sergeant York, but he received his only Oscar in 1975 as an Honorary Award from the Academy.

Although originally dismissed by the more intellectual critics in the English-speaking world (especially in the United Kingdom, where his work was virtually ignored by Sight and Sound), Hawks was idolised and taken very seriously indeed by the French critics associated with Cahiers du Cinéma in the 1950s, and this spread to the United Kingdom where Hawks became an icon for Ian Cameron, Robin Wood and the other critics associated with Movie magazine.

Hawks was married three times, to Athole Shearer (a sister of movie actress Norma Shearer), Nancy Gross (later and better known as Slim Keith, she was the mother of his daughter, Kitty Hawks, a noted interior designer), and Dee Hartford (an actress whose real name was Donna Higgins). His brothers were director/writer Kenneth Neil Hawks and film producer William Bettingger Hawks.

Filmography (director)

See also

Further reading

  • Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood, Todd MacCarthy (Grove Press, 1997)
  • Howard Hawks: American Artist, Jim Hillier, Peter Wollen (British Film Institute, 1997)
  • Hawks on Hawks, Joseph McBride (University of California Press, 1982)
  • Focus on Howard Hawks, Joseph McBride (ed), Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1972
  • Howard Hawks, Robin Wood, Secker & Warburg, 1968
  • Howard Hawks, Robin Wood, British Film Institute, 1981, revised with addition of chapter "Retrospect".
  • Howard Hawks, A Jungian Study, Clark Branson, Garland-Clarke Editions, 1987
  • Red River, Suzanne Liandrat-Guigues, bfi Publishing, 2000
  • Rio Bravo, Robin Wood, bfi Publishing, 2003
  • Howard Hawks (New Edition), Robin Wood, (Wayne State University Press, 2006)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Howard Hawks" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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