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Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood Kindle Edition
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About the Author
- File size : 2803 KB
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B005FFPVZ4
- Publication date : December 1, 2007
- Print length : 952 pages
- Publisher : Grove Press (December 1, 2007)
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #689,821 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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So there is not a lot about "the inner Hawks." However, there is a lot about Hawks' films. Once the talkies begin, there is a chapter on practically every film Hawks made. I was fascinated by the stories behind the films, how long it took some films to get made (Hatari began as an idea for a movie with Cooper), the films Hawks never made (apparently a very traditional vampire film), and his frequent tangles with Howard Hughes.
McCarthy did a lot of research, and he does not uncritically accept the stories Hawks told (frequently told) about his work. So if you like the films of Howard Hawks and are familiar with books such as Hawks on Hawks and Howard Hawks Storyteller, this is a book that you will still get a lot out of.
To use a term from Hawks' films: "This book is good enough."
Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood Is a delightful book by a gifted writer who actually takes the time to research his subject rather than relying upon plagarized rewrites of tabloid trash. Todd McCarthy's brevity and wit are welcome in this realm of biography.
"Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood" gives us everything we wanted to know about Hawks' professional life, his deals with the studios, his treatment of his performers and crew, and then it gives us more than we needed to know. I frankly got bogged down in his cross-chases with moguls like Darryl F. Zanuck and idiosyncratic millionaire nuts like Howard Hughes. But it has to be admitted that McCarthy did his homework. My God, what a heap of information on display, and what a Mount Everest of papers and documents and letters and memoranda he must have dug through in order to unearth this stuff, going back all the way to the businesses run by Hawks' grandparents. (Was the business a success? No power on earth could drag the answer from me.)
We also get a reasonably objective picture of Hawks' character. McCarthy is no fawning fan. When Hawks makes a stinker, McCarthy admits it and tries to figure out why. And we get Hawks as a person too. He was, in a word, dull. Dullness, it could be argued, was his most interesting trait. He was dull as the child of a wealthy Midwestern family and he didn't evolve over the trajectory of his life. He didn't even visit Europe until his professional responsibilities required it. Neither did President George W. Bush or Elvis Presley. This lack of curiosity could be called insular American. When you already are certain about things, why challenge yourself? This complacency is reflected in his plots (which he rewrote extensively during shoots) and even his technique. His directorial style is straightforward and scenes are shot from eye level. No razzle dazzle, no furbelows. And he stole from his earlier work shamelessly. He seemed to have two chief motives for making movies. (1) It was "fun", and (2) it made you a lot of money.
Slow in every dimension, he rarely showed anger or any enthusiasm or amusement that required more than a smile for its expression. He gave his old friends and relatives occasional jobs but showed them little affection. If he hired some people repeatedly it was largely because he knew he could rely on them, not because he especially enjoyed their presence. He died in December, 1977. John Wayne spoke (briefly) at Hawks' funeral but hardly anyone else of note showed up. He had always been distant and reserved.
Well -- except in a few regards. As a younger man he enjoyed gambling on horses, which sometimes landed him in considerable debt. He could be relied on to lie in ways that boosted his image. And he did have a few co-workers with whom he appeared to share an unspoken bond. William Faulkner was one. (Hemingway was not.) He and Faulkner were comfortable simply sitting next to each other, silently, except for an occasional drawled remark.
The Australian actor Leo McKern met with Hawks when Kern was being considered for one of the parts. His description of Hawks' drawling interactional style is kind of amusing.
"I have never met anyone who spoke or moved slower; a broad gesture with an arm took so long that it became an effort not to take the eyes from his face and follow its movement like a stoat-thralled rabbit; and yet the word it accompanied . . . 'e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e' . . . lasted as long as the gesture. I believe that it was long ago that he had simply decided that if anyone was going to come down with an ulcer, it was not H. H."
Hawks went through women as if they were going out of style. The one he found most attractive, and took the usual advantage of, conformed to the same generic template -- beautiful, tall, outdoorsy, stylish with appearing to put much effort into it. Lauren Bacall, whom he turned into a star, was emblematic. He was married three times -- once to a woman who suffered from a mood disorder, next to a socialite, finally to a high-maintenance lady less than half his age.
Which brings up a question that in the context of Hawks' life is inevitable. He had all the women he ever wanted. All he had to do was beckon. Yet they didn't remain with him for long, usually leaving of their own accord. So how was he in bed? He was about as dynamic in the sack as he was in his social life. In the 1930s, Jean Harlow expressed an interest in dating Hawks. It was arranged. Later, the panderer passed Harlow on the beach and asked her how it went, and she scowled and pinched her nose. Hawks had no religion or politics, but in turn-of-the-century small-town Indiana, you didn't get too demonstrative about anything.
There isn't much of the author in this biography. I kind of missed the personal touch. McCarthy missed some opportunities for guesses or wisecracks that might have been incisive or richly humorous. Not that anyone would want a tabloid expose, but, I mean, what ABOUT all that supposed homoerotic subtext in Hawks' work?
Anyway, I got through the book, and although it has its longueurs, it includes just about everything you might want to know about Howard Hawks, one of America's iconic film directors -- a superb story teller.
Top reviews from other countries
Apasionante libro en el que asistimos al nacimiento del cine mudo, la época de los estudios, el impacto de la segunda guerra mundial, el cine de posguerra, los deseos de independencia y la modernidad de un cine que ya no era para los grandes clásicos.
El autor dibuja un relato ambiguo de Hawks, un tipo elegante que vivía por y para sus historias (muy duras sus relaciones personales, con tres matrimonios y unos hijos a los que poco caso hizo), que no se casaba con nadie, capaz de traicionar y romper contratos con los estudios en pos de la película que deseaba hacer, uno de los pocos que siempre estuvo buscando su libertad como autor, su implicación en la elaboración de los guiones era absoluta, en la elección de los actores y con un estilo de rodaje del que todos hablan maravillas, aun cuando fuera lento, nunca cumpliera presupuesto ni agenda.
A pesar de su gran versatilidad o quizás por ella, el libro te obligue a replantearte al Hawks autor (aunque fuera uno de los primeros reivindicados por Cahiers), sus constantes son más en estilo y espíritu (la profesionalidad, la amistad entre hombres, el flirteo y nacimiento del amor, la mujer aguerrida) que temáticas o con un universo profundo (o sentimental sería quizás más correcto) que el de otros clásicos del cine americano.
Lo triste y el autor acierta a decirlo es que Hawks a partir de los cincuenta y a pesar de tres cantos de gloria se va desdibujando. Es cierto que, como muy bien escribe Todd McCarthy, ninguno de los grandes se despidió con una gran obra sino que se fueron apagando; pero al leer y reflexionar en conjunto sobre las películas de Hawks ese desvanecimiento se hace quizás más patente.
Es, sin duda, uno de los más desconocidos y que merecía un libro así. Desgraciadamente, la bibliografía en español de Hawks brilla por su ausencia.
Este libro no es menos de lo que merece Hawks. Escrito con abundante documentación, referencias y citas textuales, nos deja frases y análisis memorables (de las de subrayar según lees) de uno de los más grandes directores, con sus luces y sombras, como todos.