Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book review - "Hawks on Hawks" ed Joseph McBride

Do people still care about Howard Hawks any more? Once upon a time he was right up there on the auteur tree, along with John Ford and Hitchcock. He never quite enjoyed the high brow acclaim of either of those but was always respected - his films perhaps enjoyed more for sheer enjoyment's sake.

This is a highly entertaining collection of interviews with the great man where he reminisces about the films and espouses his philosophy. Some of it feels like typical exaggeration - everything was his idea, he takes credit for a lot of the writing, stock Hollywood stuff - but other feels fresh and true: the importance of getting bad scenes over and done with quickly, how to cast someone interesting and different, freshness in writing, the necessary of a good story.

He slags off Rio Lobo and Jennifer O'Neill (says she got too big for her boots), has some interesting things to say about discovering Lauren Bacall, chats a lot about the movie he hoped to make in the 70s with Starsky and Hutch, wonders (as everyone does) why Paul Prentiss didn't become a big star, doesn't mention The Thing, is candid-ish about his less successful pics (The Land of the Pharoahs, Redline 5000), loves Wayne, Grant, Cagney and Bogart. It's a shame Hawks never wrote a memoir but this is great to have anyway - we're lucky to have it.

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