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Howard Hawks: The Measure of Man

Tuesday, January 24, 2012
7:00 p.m. A Girl in Every Port
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1928)

Live Music / Judith Rosenberg on Piano
Introduction / Marilyn Fabe

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

A Girl in Every Port represents an early incarnation of a seminal Hawks theme, a “love story” between two men. Victor McLaglen and Robert Armstrong are two sailors who tend to have the same girl in every port until they resolve the rivalry by becoming fast friends; then they don’t really need the “skirts” any more. Their developing union is conveyed in a brilliantly conceived style that relies largely on gestures. Louise Brooks supplies some of the best moves in the role of a circus high diver who almost (but not quite) manages to break up the two stars. And perhaps, had this been a later Hawks film, Brooks’s full potential might have been realized, and the plot worked out a little differently at the same time. Critic Robin Wood has written, “She might well have established the tradition of the Hawks woman, but, after a promising beginning, her part degenerates into a commonplace figure of female duplicity.”

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Seton I. Miller, Reginald Morris, James Kevin McGuinness, from a story by Hawks. Photographed by L. W. O’Connell, Rudolph Berquist. With Victor McLaglen, Robert Armstrong, Louise Brooks, Myrna Loy. (64 mins, Silent, B&W, 35mm, From the collection of George Eastman House, permission 20th Century Fox)