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Howard Hawks: The Measure of Man

January 13, 2012 - April 17, 2012


“The modern man—that’s Hawks, completely.”—Henri Langlois

“What one loves most about Hawks, finally, is the aliveness of so many of his people.”—Robin Wood

This series celebrates the work of one of the most-loved directors of classical Hollywood cinema. A consummate professional, Howard Hawks (1896–1977) directed more than forty films, completing his first features at the end of the silent era. Often working as both director and independent producer, Hawks maintained his autonomy within the studio system, allowing him control over his own destiny as an artist. Influenced by John Ford, Ernst Lubitsch, and Josef von Sternberg, Hawks directed films in every Hollywood genre: screwball comedies, dramas, gangster films, action adventures, Westerns, science fiction, musical comedies. But no matter the genre, he would make a quintessentially Hawksian film.

Favoring a simple, clear visual style, Hawks was an action director par excellence; few filmmakers have rivaled his speed. Making the transition from silent to sound cinema, he found that he could use rapid-fire dialogue to increase narrative velocity. Yet he relied heavily on actions, not words, to convey his characters’ feelings. Hawks’s personal credo that “man is the measure of all things” motivates his filmmaking. First and foremost, the Hawksian hero is measured by his (and, less frequently, her) work, and professionalism and camaraderie are paramount in Hawks’s films.

Continuing through mid-April, this series surveys the full range of the director’s career, including several rarely screened silents. It demonstrates that, like a composer writing a theme and variations, Hawks repeatedly treats the same themes, situations, and actions, transposed from one genre to the next, with a remarkable unity of style.

Get your passport to Howard Hawks: The Measure of Man. Click on the Buy Tickets button above for details.

Susan Oxtoby, Senior Film Curator

Friday, January 13, 2012
7:00 p.m. The Crowd Roars
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1932) New Print! In the breathtakingly fast field of Hawks movies, this car racing melodrama might hold the land speed record, with James Cagney setting the pace as a champion driver. (70 mins)

Friday, January 13, 2012
8:35 p.m. Tiger Shark
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1932) New Print! Edward G. Robinson plays a Portuguese tuna-boat captain and Zita Johann his tough-minded, typically Hawksian wife in this melodrama shot on location in Monterey. (80 mins)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
7:00 p.m. Fig Leaves
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1926). Introduced by Marilyn Fabe. Judith Rosenberg on piano. Fashion is the original sin in Hawks’s second feature film, his earliest that still survives. “(An) effervescent blend of sly sex comedy and riotous slapstick. . . . Though the film is silent, Hawks’s epigrammatic rapidity is already in evidence” (New Yorker). (c. 70 mins)

Friday, January 20, 2012
7:00 p.m. Fazil
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1928). 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 an Arabian prince (Charles Farrell) and a freedom-loving Parisienne (Greta Nissen). (75 mins)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012
7:00 p.m. A Girl in Every Port
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1928). Introduced by Marilyn Fabe. Judith Rosenberg on piano. An early incarnation of a seminal Hawks theme—a “love story” between two men (Victor McLaglen and Robert Armstrong)—with Louise Brooks as the woman who almost manages to break up the bromance. (64 mins)

Friday, January 27, 2012
7:00 p.m. Paid to Love
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1927). Judith Rosenberg on piano. A Parisian demimondaine is recruited to romance the crown prince of an imaginary kingdom in this rarely seen, visually lavish silent. George O’Brien and Virginia Valli star, but caddish William Powell usurps the movie. (74 mins)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
7:00 p.m. Scarface
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1932). Vault Print! Hawks’s rat-a-tat-taut direction drives this godfather of all gangster films. “Nasty, exciting, brutal and beautiful” (TIFF Cinematheque). (93 mins)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012
7:00 p.m. Twentieth Century
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1934). Vault Print! Broadway mogul John Barrymore spars with former protégée Carole Lombard in a madcap comedy scripted by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. “Thanks to Hawks, the film not only takes place on an express train, it moves like one too” (Time Out). (91 mins)

Sunday, February 12, 2012
4:30 p.m. The Criminal Code
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1931) Restored Print! Walter Huston is a D.A. turned warden, watching over cons including Boris Karloff, in this stark prison picture. “The fast pacing, grimly realistic atmosphere, and superb performances summon up a tragic battle of wits and power” (Time Out). (96 mins)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
7:00 p.m. Bringing Up Baby
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1938). Katharine Hepburn manages to unearth the hitherto hidden funny bone in placid paleontologist Cary Grant in this swiftest and screwiest of screwball comedies. (102 mins)

Friday, February 17, 2012
8:55 p.m. The Dawn Patrol
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1930) New Print! Richard Barthelmess and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. are British fliers who must put professional responsibility before personal feelings in Hawk’s first talkie, with scenes of aerial combat that still soar. (95 mins)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
7:00 p.m. Only Angels Have Wings
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1939). Restored Print! Cary Grant, Richard Barthelmess, and Jean Arthur star in an exhilarating adventure about fliers in a Latin American backwater. “A completely achieved masterpiece” (Robin Wood). (121 mins)

Friday, February 24, 2012
8:45 p.m. Barbary Coast
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1935). In Gold Rush–era San Francisco, golddigger Miriam Hopkins takes up with casino boss Edward G. Robinson but falls for poetical prospector Joel McCrea. “Melodrama of the neatest, most expert kind, well directed, well acted and well written” (Graham Greene). (91 mins)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
7:00 p.m. His Girl Friday
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1940). Restored Print! Newsroom editor Cary Grant tries to win back his top reporter—and ex-wife—Rosalind Russell in “one of the fastest of all movies, from line to line and gag to gag. . . . A tour de force of choreographed action” (Manny Farber). (92 mins)

Sunday, March 4, 2012
2:00 p.m. Ball of Fire
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1941). Restored Print! Nightclub singer Barbara Stanwyck gives innocent encyclopedist Gary Cooper lessons in slang, and love, in this comic twist on the Snow White tale. (111 mins)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
7:00 p.m. To Have and Have Not
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1944). Bogart and Bacall, together for the first time, in an “unassuming masterpiece, nominally based on Hemingway's novel and set in Martinique during World War II . . . Hawks’s toughest statement of the necessity of accepting responsibility for others” (Time Out). (100 mins)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
7:00 p.m. The Big Sleep
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1945). Prerelease version. Hawks’s classic is the only film to capture Raymond Chandler’s gallows humor and abrasive romanticism, with Bogart as Marlowe and Bacall as the fast-talking woman who invites him into an impossibly intricate web of blackmail and murder. (132 mins)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
7:00 p.m. Red River
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1948). John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, and a river of cattle in a rousing Western that is also a funny and moving study of male relationships. “Probably the finest Western of the forties” (Time Out). (133 mins)

Saturday, March 24, 2012
6:00 p.m. Sergeant York
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1941) This stirring, folksy fable stars Gary Cooper as real-life World War I hero Alvin C. York, a convert from hillbilly hell-raiser to upright Christian and from biblical pacifist to battlefield patriot. (135 mins)

Saturday, March 31, 2012
6:30 p.m. I Was a Male War Bride
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1949). Military bureaucracy impedes the consummation of Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan’s marriage in “a comedy on frustration and sex-roles that is romantic, subversive and extremely funny, all at the same time” (Time Out). (105 mins)

Saturday, March 31, 2012
8:35 p.m. Monkey Business
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1952). A youth serum makes Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers go ape in this anarchic allegory. “Part romp, part druggie-surrealist masterpiece, and a complete joy” (The Guardian). “Hawks’s greatest comedy” (Robin Wood). (97 mins)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012
7:00 p.m. The Thing from Another World
Christian Nyby (uncredited: Howard Hawks) (U.S., 1951). A group of scientists and military men discover an alien craft under the Arctic ice in this oft-remade science fiction classic. (87 mins)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
7:00 p.m. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1953). Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe two golddiggers from Little Rock who prove that big shiny rocks are a girl’s best friend in Hawks’s brash, satiric take on the musical genre. (91 mins)

Saturday, April 14, 2012
8:00 p.m. Rio Bravo
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1959). Sheriff John Wayne tries to keep a killer jailed with help from local drunk Dean Martin, singin’ cowboy Ricky Nelson, dance-hall girl Angie Dickinson, and cantankerous geezer Walter Brennan in Hawks’s loose-limbed Western. (141 mins)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
7:00 p.m. El Dorado
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1967). Hawks reworks Rio Bravo as both elegy and farce. Starring John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and James Caan, this late work is “a witty, exciting and deeply moving masterpiece” (Time Out). (126 mins)

Howard Hawks: The Measure of Man is timed to coincide with a UC Berkeley undergraduate course on Hawks taught by Marilyn Fabe of the Department of Film and Media. We wish to thank the following individuals and institutions for their assistance with this major retrospective: Regina Schlagnitweit, Austrian Film Museum; Rob Stone, Library of Congress; Anne Morra and Mary Keene, The Museum of Modern Art; Daniel Bish, George Eastman House; Todd Wiener and Steven Hill, UCLA Film and Television Archive; May Haduong, Academy Film Archive; Fleur Buckley, BFI/NFTVA; George Watson, BFI Distribution; Kristen MacDonald, Film Reference Library, TIFF Bell Lightbox; Grover Crisp, Sony Pictures; Paul Ginsburg, Universal; Caitlin Robertson, 20th Century Fox; Kent Youngblood, MGM; and Marilee Womack, Warner Bros. Archival and restored prints and musical accompaniment for silent films presented with support from the Packard Humanities Institute.