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Howard Hawks: The Measure of Man

Friday, January 20, 2012
7:00 p.m. Fazil
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1928)

Live Music / Judith Rosenberg on Piano

This rare Hawks silent travels between Paris, Venice, and “Araby—untouched by the ages” as it follows the ill-fated romance between Arabian prince Fazil (Charles Farrell) and Fabienne (Greta Nissen), a freedom-loving Parisienne. In his world, “love is possession,” Fazil tells Fabienne; she declares herself willing to become his property, without knowing quite how far her surrender will go. Hawks’s attitude toward this exercise in studio exotica was skeptical—“Christ Almighty, can you imagine Charlie Farrell as an Arabian sheik?” he later exclaimed—and the film offers the diversions of cynical comedy (an execution interrupted by calls to prayer), action (speedboats, fast cars), and sex (harem girls lounging in skimpy finery) before settling into tragedy.

—Juliet Clark

• Written by Seton I. Miller, Philip Klein, from the play L’insoumise by Pierre Frondaie. Photographed by William O’Connell. With Charles Farrell, Greta Nissen, John Boles, Mae Busch. (75 mins, 24 fps, Silent, B&W, 35mm, From The Museum of Modern Art, permission 20th Century Fox)