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Howard Hawks: The Measure of Man

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
7:00 p.m. Fig Leaves
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1926)

Live Music / Judith Rosenberg on Piano
Introduction / Marilyn Fabe

Marilyn Fabe is senior lecturer in film and media at UC Berkeley.

Fashion is the original sin in Hawks’s second feature film, his earliest that still survives. “I’ve nothing to wear,” laments Eve (Olive Borden) to an exasperated Adam (George O’Brien) in a Flintstones-like Garden of Eden. Flash forward a few thousand years: the styles have changed but the complaint remains the same, and Eve trades her leopard bikini for the Erté-esque kimonos of Fifth Avenue couturier André (a mincing, eye-rolling comic caricature who may have been modeled on real-life costume designer Adrian). “Hawks’s effervescent blend of sly sex comedy and riotous slapstick is on gleeful display,” Richard Brody wrote in the New Yorker. “Though the film is silent, Hawks’s epigrammatic rapidity is already in evidence—the characters talk nonstop with such lively, pointed grace that a viewer might swear he hears the intertitles spoken before seeing them onscreen.”

—Juliet Clark

• Written by Hope Loring, Louis D. Lighton, from a story by Hawks. Photographed by Joseph August. With George O’Brien, Olive Borden, Andre de Beranger, Phyllis Haver. (c. 70 mins, 24 fps, Silent, B&W, 35mm, From The Museum of Modern Art, permission 20th Century Fox)