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June 14 – August 30, 2019

The Complete Howard Hawks

What one should do, what one must do, is try to anticipate what the public is going to like… I have no desire to make a picture for my own pleasure.” – Howard Hawks, in a Cahiers du Cinema interview with Jacques Becker, Jacques Rivette and Francois Truffaut, 1956

If one of the side effects of auteurism’s midcentury flourishing as an interpretive framework was to encourage critics to retroactively assign subterranean artistic intent to commercial film entertainment, few directors were as invested in demystifying that notion toward their own work as Howard Hawks (1896 – 1977). The prolific Hollywood genre pioneer, who occupied the dead center of the industry for at least three decades of his career, was first and foremost, by his own admission, in the business of filling movie theaters. Unlike Alfred Hitchcock, the other half of the famous “Hitchcocko-Hawksian” designation given to the French New Wave critics-turned-filmmakers who elevated these two directors as the zenith of Hollywood’s crop during the classical era, Hawks was not interested in pursuing personal obsessions irrespective of the audience’s pleasure. Until the final decade of his career, when the tides of culture finally outpaced his sensibilities, Hawks’ body of work was defined by a canny accommodation of popular opinion. When a film underperformed at the box office, Hawks didn’t blame the viewership; rather, he corrected course.

Yet, despite this conservatism, Hawks persists as a widely influential figure as well as one of the greatest exemplars of a certain kind of genre cinema. His directorial run from 1926 to 1970 encompasses action-adventures, screwball comedies, gangster films, Westerns, noirs, musicals, war films, science fictions and historical pageants, but the seeming variety of his output betrays a remarkable coherence of vision, a precise attitude toward genre filmmaking that endured through the different clothing his productions wore. In a nutshell, the tenets of this attitude included a resistance to outward displays of sentiment within his narratives; a preference for large ensembles of mostly male characters; a tendency to de-emphasize spectacle in favor of the passages of character-building downtime in between; and a pared-down, pragmatic visual style that rarely allowed for overtly expressive uses of the camera. Above all, Hawks’ films are about people, not politics, abstract concepts or social issues.

Part of this straight-shooting temperament must surely be rooted in Hawks’ inheritance of the wealth and privilege of one of Indiana’s richest families whose fortune was gained through manufacturing and milling exploits in the late 19th century. His parents’ stature and connections enabled him to coast through Ivy League universities despite unsteady academic performance, and the adversities of his young life—dealing with his mother Helen’s long-term illness and leaving home for a stint in the Air Force during WWI—had nothing to do with economic strain. Instead, the myriad opportunities granted Hawks in his early years—as student, athlete, aviator, gambler, mechanical engineer, race-car driver and finally Hollywood apprentice—instilled in him a love of people and a penchant for thrill-seeking.

After his family relocated to Southern California, Hawks’ inexhaustible curiosity eventually led him to Hollywood, where his willingness to exploit his family’s wealth garnered him traction in the company of powerful men such as Cecil B. DeMille, Allan Dwan, Douglas Fairbanks and Irving Thalberg. After a brief stint in the early twenties financing and producing films by Dwan and Allen Holubar, Hawks worked up an appetite for directing, and his now-lost debut for Fox, 1926’s The Road to Glory (no relation to his 1936 film), came about as a result of banging on doors and audaciously overselling himself. That penchant for self-promotion, for gung-ho individualism, was the engine of Hawks’ success throughout his career, explaining his lack of fidelity to any one studio and his inclination to produce his own pictures when other avenues fell through. In an era of long-term contracts, Hawks was singular for his ability to travel freely within the studio system without making lasting enemies of the production heads.

To the contrary, Hawks maintained a steady rotation of proud collaborators throughout his career. Most foundational were the screenwriters, with whom Hawks required a close artistic partnership: Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Jules Furthman, Charles Lederer, Leigh Brackett, and William Faulkner, a writer Hawks claims to have taught how to pen screenplays. For his players, Hawks pulled routinely from a well of elite stars including Cary Grant, John Wayne, Gary Cooper and James Cagney; pruned for the screen electrifying newcomers like Lauren Bacall, Montgomery Clift and James Caan; and turned inimitable character actors like Walter Brennan, Arthur Hunnicutt and Charles Coburn into household names. His cinematographers, editors and set designers, meanwhile, were less predictable, though it is worth noting that Hawks named his youngest son Gregg in tribute to Gregg Toland, the man responsible for Hawks’ most uncharacteristically expressionistic films.

Despite the relative lack of cinematic fireworks in Hawks’ films, at least when compared to contemporaries like Hitchcock, Orson Welles or Fritz Lang, his oeuvre does boast a number of technical and stylistic innovations that pushed the industry and medium forward. His distaste for thespian hysterics endowed his silent films with a distinctly naturalistic touch, while his earliest sound films, which utilized cutting-edge recording technology to enable more flexible cross-cutting, chipped away all traces of the theatrical at a time when unrestrained emoting was still tantamount to motion picture quality. First developed in The Dawn Patrol,Hawks’ exacting approach to dialogue—terse, fast-paced, low-pitched and overlapping—flummoxed his producers when they encountered it, until of course the box office receipts came in and the method became the new model for talkies. Meanwhile, though his visual style never announced itself, it was distinguished from his peers by its economy and consistency. The quintessential Hawks shot—a loose frame crowded with bodies and faces in relaxed coexistence, often around a piano or other musical instrument—is immediately recognizable as his signature despite its utter simplicity, and when encountered in the work of other directors, even today, carries with it an implicit debt.

More than these stylistic characteristics, however, Hawks is renowned for his idiosyncratic approach to storytelling, which, as his career went on, increasingly dispensed with plot mechanics until the real nourishment to be found in his films was in the simple act of watching his characters interact—a methodology that reached its peak in Rio Bravo. Typically concentrating on men in high-risk professions like aviation or stock-car racing, Hawks reflected in his ensembles the warmth, camaraderie and grace under pressure that he valued in life. In elevating these qualities to the forefront of human existence, Hawks largely neglected otherwise common cinematic subjects like family life, domesticity, and even romantic love, though his narratives regularly danced around the latter. Such a hierarchy of values meant that Hawks incorporated only a small fraction of female characters into his projects, though in winnowing the field down to tough-talking, self-reliant women who found their deepest happiness when going toe-to-toe with the men who initially doubted them, his work found unlikely champions in the feminist community—even as some camps denigrated this very rubric of female empowerment as misogynistic.

Hawks’ vast body of work has generated far more proselytizers than naysayers, a level of nearly uniform acclaim that few other Golden Age directors have enjoyed. In addition to the steady popular appeal of his films during their time, the blanket admiration from the Cahiers crowd inspired a generation of highbrow critical appraisal courtesy of Andrew Sarris, Molly Haskell, Manny Farber, Peter Wollen, David Thomson, Joseph McBride and Robin Wood, whose book-length study, which analyzes the director’s work around thematic pillars such as “the lure of irresponsibility” and “the instinctive consciousness,” continues to be a benchmark for thinking about Hawks. This rich critical legacy perseveres today in new iterations, from the Bazinian considerations of genre and realism that underpin the criticism of Dan Sallitt to the thorough breakdowns of rhythm and technique that dominate the essays of Lea Jacobs.

Robust as it is, however, the tradition of analytic appreciation around Hawks seems almost paltry alongside the director’s reach in the filmmaking community. Peter Bogdanovich, John Carpenter, Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Albert Brooks, Elaine May and Quentin Tarantino have all revealed their adherence to Hawks in one way or another, while any contemporary film that so much as features a group of professionals working together is liable to be regarded as “Hawksian.” It’s quite an anomaly for an unpretentious populist to hold such an enshrined status with filmmakers and critics alike, though it’s one best explained by the enduring enjoyability of the films themselves, which cut through matters of topicality and “importance” to get right to the heart of what makes human life gratifying: the sustenance to be gained from one another. – Carson Lund

Film descriptions by Carson Lund, Brittany Gravely and Haden Guest.

Special thanks: Todd Wiener and Steven Hill—UCLA Film and Television Archive; Lynanne Schweighofer—Library of Congress; Katie Trainor—Museum of Modern Art; Daniel Bish—George Eastman Museum; Schawn Belston—20th Century Fox; Rod Rhule and Hannah Prouse—British Film Institute; and Edda Manriquez—Academy Film Archive.





Friday June 14 at 7pm
Sunday June 16 at 7pm

Only Angels Have Wings

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess
US 1939, DCP, b/w, 121 min

Jollity and death exist on a precarious seesaw throughout Only Angels Have Wings, a quintessential mid-career Hawks film about male commercial pilots operating in a remote alpine outpost in South America. Two worlds govern the film: there is the idyllic flying station, a bunkhouse-cum-saloon where the men carouse in between missions, and then there is the treacherous route through the mountains, where storm clouds constantly circle and planes go to die. Hawks delineates both masterfully through sound design, favoring brisk overlapping banter and near-constant barroom music in the station while letting the nerve-wracking drone of wind, rain and plane engines dominate the missions—a soundscape that gradually intrudes on the merriment as the film presses on. Geoff (Cary Grant) is the headstrong leader of the ever-dwindling crew, a stoic man who has learned to accept death with a straight face and an ace pilot who volunteers for the most dangerous trips himself. Still, what unites these daredevils is a passion for their death-defying craft, and much of the film revels in the pockets of joy found amidst lingering grief. In acquainting the viewer with this unstable existence, Hawks offers Bonnie Lee (Jean Arthur) as an audience surrogate, a curious traveler who must come to grips with the wearying transience of the pilots’ lifestyle in order to win Geoff’s affection. Restored by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 4K from the original nitrate picture negative and composite duplicate negative, with audio restoration at Chace Audio by Deluxe in Los Angeles.

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Friday June 14 at 9:30pm

Tiger Shark

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Edward G. Robinson, Richard Arlen, Zita Johann
US 1932, 35mm, b/w, 77 min

Balancing the demands of a melodramatic love triangle with a documentary-like portrait of the Pacific Coast tuna fishing community, Tiger Shark is a great early example of Hawks’ gift for narrative looseness. Edward G. Robinson stars as a bawdy, self-aggrandizing Portuguese fisherman who falls in love with the heartbroken daughter (Zita Johann) of a fallen shipmate, only to find himself competing for her affections alongside his longtime comrade (Richard Arlen). As concerned with the trials of male friendship and loyalty as it is with the adventure of romance, the film generates a great deal of dramatic complexity through its leads’ differing acting styles, from Robinson’s boisterous theatricality to Johann’s emotional vulnerability and Arlen’s understated machismo. Meanwhile, Hawks, with the help of second-unit director Richard Rosson, paints a vivid impression of the seafaring life, a vocation whose simultaneous sense of danger and fraternity is beautifully crystallized in an extraordinary final shot. Preserved by the Library of Congress.

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Saturday June 15 at 7pm
Sunday June 16 at 4:30pm

Bringing Up Baby

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Charles Ruggles
US 1938, 35mm, b/w, 102 min

A pair of leopards, a pending million-dollar museum donation, a missing Brontosaurus bone known as the intercostal clavicle, and a yapping dog that likes burying things deep in the ground… With its escalating pile-up of absurd plot detail, Bringing Up Baby ranks among the zaniest screwball comedies ever produced in Hollywood. For all its raucous incident and outrageous twists of fate, however, the film is anchored by an affecting if unlikely romance between prudish paleontologist David Huxley (Cary Grant) and ditzy heiress Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn), a pair of discontented loners who, on the surface, couldn’t seem more mismatched. As with so many canonical screwball comedies, desire and courting are expressed through verbal combat and a series of stressful crises, with Susan playing the nosy agitator and David the befuddled straight man. But Hawks’ particular strategy here is to use exaggeration to push the usual archetypes into the realm of psychological complexity, treating Susan’s desperate pursuit of love and David’s ascetic resistance to it as pathologically antisocial behaviors that can only be resolved by one another. As Bringing Up Baby propels through rapid-fire dialogue and slapstick on the way to its carnivalesque final act, Hawks never loses sight of his characters’ humanity, knowing full well that their neuroses and hysterics are little more than hang-ups to be grown out of in the pursuit of real happiness. Print courtesy Criterion.

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Saturday June 15 at 9pm
Sunday June 23 at 5pm

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Coburn
US 1953, 35mm, color, 91 min

Prior to presenting any onscreen credits or production logos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes offers the brash spectacle of Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe singing in tandem against a garish violet backdrop, their ruby-red dresses glistening in contrast. It’s a suitably potent opening to Hawks’ delirious musical, a film whose stylistic excesses match the insatiable appetites of its two female protagonists. Russell’s Dorothy Shaw longs for love and sex, while Monroe’s Lorelei Lee gravitates towards money and shiny objects, and the film charts the teamwork they foster while aboard a Paris-bound luxury liner in helping each other achieve these desires—a mission ushered along by extravagant Jack Cole-directed musical numbers. Somewhat unique in Hawks’ oeuvre for its rapt focus on female friendship and yearning, the film is even more remarkable in its wholesale burlesquing of the dominant sex, represented here as a gallery of gullible buffoons that recall the cartoons of Frank Tashlin. Alternately analyzed in the decades since as sexist or feminist, unabashedly capitalistic or radical, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes remains a slippery product of the same consumer culture it ravenously sends up. Print courtesy 20th Century Fox.

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Monday June 24 at 7pm
Friday August 30 at 9pm

His Girl Friday

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
US 1940, 35mm, b/w, 92 min

The newspaper comedy subgenre that flowered in the 30s and 40s arguably finds its apotheosis in this hysterical, briskly told tale of high-stakes New York journalism, a revved-up reboot of the Broadway hit The Front Page. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, in performances of both verbal and physical virtuosity, form a harmonious comic duo as editor Walter Burns and investigative reporter Hildy Johnson. As soulmates joined at the hip one minute and foul-mouthed opponents the next, the actors motor through Ben Hecht’s verbose, quick-witted dialogue like seasoned veterans in the newsroom, walking all over each other’s lines when they’re not literally tripping over each other to handle the next task. Just when Hildy begins considering ditching this stressful career for good, a controversial death-row trial reels her back in, and His Girl Friday ultimately offers a stirring evocation of the idea that true love only grows out of mutual passion and adversity, however demanding these pursuits may be. Matching his performers’ dexterity beat for beat, Hawks stages the film with a remarkable economy of movement, minimizing montage editing to instead choreograph frenetic action around the frame, all while finding startling uses of the dolly to synchronize with the story’s understated tonal shifts. Restored print courtesy UCLA and Swank.

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Friday June 28 at 7pm

Ball of Fire

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Oscar Homolka
US 1942, 35mm, b/w, 111 min

Three years after Bringing Up Baby, Hawks returned to the comic potential of the intellectual hermit, an archetype within which the prevailing rationality of the director’s male characters is exaggerated to an absurd degree. Ball of Fire finds Gary Cooper in unexpected territory as Bertram Potts, a bookish dope toiling away with a merry band of old professors on an encyclopedia to end all encyclopedias. Confronted with the challenge of a chapter on modern slang, Potts is forced to venture out into a social world of which he knows little. There, in one of Hawks’ greatest scenes of musical performance, he meets nightclub singer Sugarpuss O’Shea (Barbara Stanwyck), a gangster’s moll who also happens to need a temporary hideout from the law. The delightful events that follow constitute a playful gloss on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, with Sugarpuss confidently inserting herself into a cloistered academic retreat by offering her erudite but clueless students a multi-course education in worldly matters. Packed with crowded compositions juxtaposing Stanwyck’s carefree self-possession with the stiff inquisitiveness of the professors, Ball of Fire is a visually engaging piece of filmmaking, though its innuendo-laden screenplay, written partially by Billy Wilder, is the real reward. Print courtesy Park Circus.

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Friday June 28 at 9:30pm

Twentieth Century

Directed by Howard Hawks. With John Barrymore, Carole Lombard, Walter Connolly
US 1934, DCP, b/w, 91 min

John Barrymore and Carole Lombard form a whirlwind duo as illustrious theater director Oscar Jaffe and his prized star Lily Garland in this genre-straddling Broadway portrait, a film that turns on a dime from flamboyant hysterics to weepy pathos on more than one occasion. Beginning in the spacious auditoriums and dressing rooms of Broadway and eventually moving to the stifling cabins of the titular Chicago-to-New York commuter train, Twentieth Century paints a vivid portrait of the simultaneously toxic and symbiotic relationships between the men and women of this tight-knit theatrical community, which is held together and lorded over by the autocratic Jaffe. When Garland, sick and tired of her cloying director, ditches the troupe for a rapidly successful career as a Hollywood starlet, however, everything comes undone for Jaffe—that is, until a chance encounter with Garland onboard the Twentieth Century train provides him a legacy-defining opportunity to reacquaint with his lost muse. Hijinks ensue, though for all the fast-flowing, hysterically delivered Ben Hecht dialogue, Hawks maintains an emphasis on the sorrow and tragedy of a vulnerable man realizing too late that his moment has passed. Restored print courtesy Sony Pictures.

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Saturday June 29 at 7pm (theatrical version)
Sunday June 30 at 7pm (pre-release version)

The Big Sleep

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely
US 1946, 35mm, b/w, 114/116 min

Based on a Raymond Chandler short story but finessed into its gleaming, multifaceted final form by William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman, the screenplay for The Big Sleep is one of the finest in the entire noir canon and certainly ranks in the upper echelon of the scripts Hawks worked with in his career. The reasons for this have less to do with the labyrinthine complexity of the plot—a chain of ever-expanding revelations about the haute-bourgeois Los Angeles criminal underworld—than with the layers of implication, innuendo, slang and clashing motivations in the dialogue, the rhythm of which is carefully managed by Hawks and his actors. Anchoring all of these knotty exchanges is Humphrey Bogart as private eye Philip Marlowe, master of cool and sex appeal as he sizes up his conversational opponents and seizes their intel without them even realizing it. Hired by a wealthy general to clear up a potential blackmail situation, Marlowe quickly finds himself personally invested in the case due to the recurring presence of his client’s lovely but possibly two-faced daughter (Lauren Bacall). The Big Sleep’s great trick is in seducing the audience first with the seedy plot even as it constantly redirects our attention to less analytical pleasures, like the chemistry of Bogart and Bacall and the sheer musicality of their line deliveries. Restored prints courtesy UCLA and Warner Bros.

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Saturday June 29 at 9:30pm
Sunday July 7 at 4:30pm (alternate ending)


Directed by Howard Hawks. With Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Karen Morley
US 1932, DCP, b/w, 90 min

One of Hawks’ most visually elaborate works, Scarface is a film enamored with shadows, fog and the damp, shiny allure of Chicago by night. Utilizing dynamic camera movement and expressionistic compositional play, Hawks reflects the intensity of the city’s mafia community without glamorizing it. Riding high in this crime world is Tony Camonte (Paul Muni), a bloodthirsty gangster who consistently ignores his boss' orders in launching a killing spree that takes him deep into the North Side to mess with a much-feared Irish mob. From here, Tony’s swelling ego and drive to rule Chicago go largely unchecked, while his intimate, vaguely incestuous relationship with his sister (played by a wonderfully committed Ann Dvorak) provides his only fulfilling, if damaged, human relationship. Though completed prior to the enactment of the Production Code, this nastily effective film came under great scrutiny from the censors and caused even more concern when it became a box office success, but to film history it is invaluable, providing seeds for the noir genre as well as the entire careers of Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma. Restored 4K DCP courtesy Universal.

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Friday July 5 at 7pm
Sunday July 7 at 7pm


Directed by Howard Hawks. With John Wayne, Hardy Kruger, Elsa Martinelli
US 1962, 35mm, color, 159 min

If there’s one film that crystallizes what critics generally mean when they use the term “Hawksian,” it’s Hatari!, the director’s ambling, good-natured, character-driven late film about a motley crew of safari wranglers who catch and sell exotic wild animals in the African desert. Like The Dawn Patrol or Only Angels Have Wings,the film focuses on the bonds formed within a group of men—and in this case, two women—doing daunting physical work in a remote region, and, in perhaps the most Hawksian trait of all, it jettisons plot to fixate almost entirely on the schmoozing and leisure time that always at least punctuates Hawks’ storytelling. Here, we’re immersed in the day-to-day activities of Sean Mercer (John Wayne) and his team, a rowdy bunch that includes a former NYC cabbie (Red Buttons), a Mexican bullrider (Valentin de Vargas), and a sage old chap referred to only as “The Indian,” whose injury at the horns of an angry rhino constitutes one of the film’s few instances of narrative tension. In the absence of high stakes, Hatari! relishes in gags and good humor, much of it generated by the arrival of a beautiful Italian photographer (Elsa Martinelli) who forces Sean to come to terms with his past struggles with women. Long and digressive, the film features some of Hawks’ most enjoyable scene construction and character building. Print courtesy Swank.

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Saturday July 6 at 7pm
Friday July 19 at 9pm

To Have and Have Not

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall
US 1944, 35mm, b/w, 100 min

Rarely has Hollywood produced a male-female duo with more chemistry than Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and To Have and Have Not, their first collaboration and Bacall’s onscreen debut, ranks among their most electric. The film, based on an undistinguished Ernest Hemingway novel whose complicated black-market plotting is thoroughly streamlined by Hawks in favor of character exploration, is defined by long, simmering sequences of flirtation between its two stars, who command a series of cramped two shots with an ongoing dynamic of physical intimacy, innuendo and battles of wit. Bogart is a charter ship owner in Vichy-occupied Martinique and Bacall is the singing American tourist who catches his eye from across the boat’s swarming cabaret. Both become embroiled in a fiasco involving French Resistance money and pesky Vichy policemen, but all of this is window dressing. To Have and Have Not is first and foremost one of Hawks’ most atmospherically distinctive films, conjuring in a studio backlot a dance of delicate and exotic energies, from Bacall’s sensuous whisper and Bogart’s wafting cigarette smoke to the humid island breezes and clammy air of secrecy. Print courtesy Warner Bros.

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Saturday July 6 at 9pm
Friday July 19 at 7pm

I Was a Male War Bride

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Cary Grant, Ann Sheridan, Marion Marshall
US 1949, 35mm, b/w, 105 min

One of the most popular films of its year due largely to the novelty of seeing the world’s biggest movie star dressed in drag, I Was a Male War Bride stars Cary Grant alongside Hawks newcomer Ann Sheridan in an eccentric screwball comedy based on the memoir of a Belgian, Henri Rochard, who married an American servicewoman following WWII. In its first half, the film follows the trusty formula popularized by screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby, with Grant and Sheridan, playing a French Army Captain and the Women’s Army Corps lieutenant with whom he’s assigned for postwar duty, masking their mutual attraction under relentless verbal sparring. When the two drop the façade halfway through, however, Hawks goes about comprehensively charting the absurdities of the era’s US Immigration Law, which enabled a war groom’s passage to America only via a loophole in the system: he must pose as a bride. The film generates much of its comedy through the relative stoicism of Grant in the face of these ludicrous bureaucratic machinations, which ultimately lead Rochard to hide out aboard a ship in women’s clothing. Hawks, ever the sophisticate, deserves credit for not leaning heavily on cheap sight gags, instead finding greater wit in the warped logic of the immigration process. Print courtesy 20th Century Fox.

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Live Musical Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Monday July 8 at 7pm

A Girl in Every Port

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Victor McLaglen, Robert Armstrong, Louise Brooks
US 1928, 35mm, b/w, silent, 64 min

Often cited as the earliest flowering of the Hawksian ethos, A Girl in Every Port is a subversive farce of hedonism and male bonding, a story propelled almost entirely by a rowdy, freewheeling spirit. Spike (Victor McLaglen) and Bill (Robert Armstrong) are hard-drinking patrons of the high seas, sailing from port to port looking for frolics and fistfights while leaving trails of besotted dames in their wake. When the two come into one other’s crosshairs over a conspiring siren in Marseilles (Louise Brooks), the tension leads inexorably to quasi-romantic camaraderie, at which point A Girl in Every Port turns gradually from the ribald to the delicate, tracing Spike and Bill’s developing relationship as through it were the dalliance in Sunrise. Despite what might be seen as a proto-queer sensibility, however, the film broke box-office records for its loose, broad comedy, a mode naturally suited to McLaglen, whose wide frame and stomping gait practically necessitate Hawks’ master-shot approach. Print courtesy GEM Entertainment.

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Friday July 12 at 7pm
Sunday July 14 at 4:30pm

The Criminal Code

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Walter Huston, Phillips Holmes, Constance Cummings
US 1931, 35mm, b/w, 97 min

Hawks’ only foray into the prison film, The Criminal Code was part of a cycle of hard-hitting, reform-minded pictures about American crime and punishment made during the early years of sound. The great Walter Huston stars as a rigidly principled prosecuting attorney given the job of warden at a penitentiary populated by criminals he sent away, including a sensitive young man, played by Phillips Holmes, given a hard sentence of ten years for murder in self-defense. The presence of the attorney’s comely daughter adds another dimension to the drama and to Holmes’ relationship with the warden. Most impressive in the cast, however, is journeyman stage and screen actor Boris Karloff (who had already appeared in bit parts in eighty films) in his breakout role as a hardened criminal, a role he had played in the original Broadway production. An innovative talkie, The Criminal Code allowed Hawks to experiment right away with the kind of rapid and overlapping dialogue that would become an important signature of his cinema. Print courtesy Swank.

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Friday July 12 at 9pm

Land of the Pharaohs

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Jack Hawkins, Joan Collins, Dewey Martin
US 1955, 35mm, color, 106 min

The most radical departure from the more familiar genre territories explored by Hawks is his ill-fated tale of ancient Egypt—a saga of hubris, greed and obsession with the afterlife—that was also the director’s first and only major box-office bomb. Over time, Land of the Pharaohs has earned a place as a beloved and much-admired cult film and as proof of the auteurist theory that even the most seemingly outlier films are essential to a filmmaker’s oeuvre. In this case, the film provides the typical Hawksian balance between thrilling action spectacle—especially the construction of the pharaoh’s tomb and gripping sequences with poisonous vipers—and intimate romantic rivalries, with a young Joan Collins casting a particularly bewitching spell as a Cypresian princess determined to charm her way into the heart of the pharaoh and his secret treasure trove.

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Saturday July 13 at 7pm
Sunday July 21 at 5pm

The Thing from Another World

Directed by Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks. With Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite
US 1951, 35mm, b/w, 87 min

A nondescript set masquerading as an Alaskan research outpost, about a dozen spirited B-list actors, and a few rudimentary special effects are all that’s needed to mount nail-biting suspense in The Thing from Another World, a thrifty sci-fi classic that is as much about the moment-to-moment logistics of grappling with the unknown as it is about the eponymous alien entity itself. When a mysterious saucer from the sky crash-lands near a secluded Air Force compound, Captain Patrick Hendry and a ragtag bunch of servicemen are forced to make imaginative use of their limited resources to conquer their increasingly predatory visitor, all while butting heads with a cerebral scientist who insists the extraterrestrial beast is mere “phenomena to be studied.” In ceding the director’s chair to then-debuting filmmaker Christian Nyby, Hawks claimed only a producer role for the film, though his stylistic influence is so strongly felt in the brisk banter and calculated blocking that there has long been speculation as to the degree of his artistic intervention. Whatever the case, The Thing from Another World stands as both a consummate expression of Hawksian ensemble acting and a master class in the power of suggestion. Print courtesy the British Film Institute.

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Saturday July 13 at 9pm
Sunday July 28 at 5pm

The Dawn Patrol

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Neil Hamilton
US 1930, 35mm, b/w, 95 min

Hawks’ first film of his most productive decade marks one of the great stylistic leaps in cinema history. Not the first production to fully incorporate direct-sound recording, but one that nevertheless revolutionized the way that sound would be used in movie narratives, The Dawn Patrol captures the gloomy evenings and cacophonous mornings at a British air base during World War I, where an ever-diminishing cadre of hopeful men while away their days drinking and reminiscing in between deadly missions behind enemy lines. The film’s prevailing atmosphere, manifested most plainly by a chalkboard listing the surviving pilots that gets sparser by the day, is one of impending doom, and Hawks, a former flight instructor, lends the proceedings an authentic sense of the trials of daily warfare, where grief and spiritual decay are offset by male bonding. Alternating between hushed scenes of mourning at the base and brutally intense episodes of aerial combat, Hawks cultivates a hypnotic narrative structure that revolves largely around the complicated friendship of Captain Courtney (Richard Barthelmess) and ace pilot Scott (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) without ever losing sight of the other men who come and go at the base, including Scott’s wide-eyed younger brother (William Janney). Stunning rear-projection effects and aerial footage aside, The Dawn Patrol’sgreatest innovation is its dimensional use of direct sound with overlapping naturalistic dialogue, which creates a relentless pace distinct from the more theatrical, melodramatic style that defined the early sound era. Preserved by the Library of Congress.

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Sunday July 14 at 7pm
Sunday July 21 at 7pm

Air Force

Directed by Howard Hawks and Vincent Sherman. With John Garfield, John Ridgely, Gig Young
US 1943, 35mm, b/w, 124 min

Hawks directed his final tribute to aviation with this rousing piece of WWII military propaganda. Made at the height of the war effort, Air Force depicts the chaotic days following the attack on Pearl Harbor by focusing on a small brigade that gets pulled into combat in the midst of a routine training mission, but Hawks treats the action of warfare as secondary to the smaller dramas between the crew members onboard their cramped B-17 bomber plane. The terrific ensemble, composed largely of relative unknowns, embodies a cast of characters culled from various walks of American life: among others, there’s the family-man pilot (John Ridgely), the rebellious newcomer (John Garfield), the Jewish mechanic (George Tobias), a fresh-faced radio operator (Ray Montgomery), and Harry Carey in one of his most affecting late performances as a veteran crew chief whose son works at another base. Much of the film is devoted to the team-building conversations that take place amongst the group while maintaining the plane, where topics range from family life to the merits of New York City and California. When the film moves into its action-packed, visually impressive second half, however, the emphasis shifts toward the barbaric “Japs” and their brutal defeat at the hands of American military prowess, a tonal shift that’s understandable in context if rather difficult to swallow by modern sensibilities. Print courtesy Warner Bros.

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Live Musical Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Monday July 15 at 7pm

The Cradle Snatchers

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Louise Fazenda, J. Farrell MacDonald, Ethel Wales
US 1927, 35mm, b/w, silent, b/w, 59 min

Considered lost until Peter Bogdanovich located the originals in the depths of the Fox archive, The Cradle Snatchers remains slightly incomplete, missing part of the third reel and all of the fourth. Despite the absent ten minutes, Hawks’ adaptation of Russell G. Medcraft and Norma Mitchell’s popular, dialogue-heavy play into a silent film remains an enjoyable, captivating feat. Three middle-aged wives punish their philandering husbands by hiring college boys to pose as their secret lovers. The young men’s convincing performances twist a few comical knots in the ladies’ vengeful strategy, and the result is, in the words of Hawks’ biographer Todd McCarthy, “a boisterous, energetic Jazz Age film, sprightly paced and fresh-feeling, despite its obvious theatrical origins.” Preserved by the Library of Congress.

Paid to Love

Directed by Howard Hawks. With George O’Brien, Virginia Valli, J. Farrell MacDonald
US 1927, 35mm, b/w, silent, 74 min

In order to help guarantee his loan to the floundering Mediterranean kingdom of San Savonna, an American financier requires that the king’s son start showing some interest in the opposite sex. Like many Hawks men intellectually consumed by other interests, Michael the Crown Prince (George O’Brien) only has eyes for all things automotive. Thus, two “old fools” team up like a meddling married couple—undoubtedly a Hawks touch—to concoct a scheme to spark Michael’s latent libido. Adding to the comic incongruency, they venture to a notorious Paris dive only to discover another Hawks prototype: the gorgeous, self-made and street-smart doyenne of the underworld. Because of her skill at deception, Virginia Valli’s nightclub performer is half-wittingly pulled into a tangle of role-playing, mistaken identities and clashing classes—with a young and slithering William Powell appearing as the foil. Clearly influenced by the surge of German expressionism washing over Hollywood at the time, Hawks’ amusing frolic features an array of un-Hawksian creative camera moves and artful flourishes, as well as a few startlingly erotic pre-Code moments, including a scene with Powell slowly unpeeling and eating a banana while watching Valli, unaware, disrobe. Preserved by the Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.

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Live Musical Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Monday July 22 at 7pm


Directed by Howard Hawks. With Charles Farrell, Greta Nissen, Mae Busch
US 1928, 35mm, b/w, silent with sound sequences, 74 min

Hawks was reluctantly fulfilling a Fox assignment when he took on the adaptation of Pierre Frondaie’s 1922 play L’Insoumise about a conservative Arabian sheik who falls in love with a modern, free-spirited Parisienne. Just as the lovers feel when removed from their respective cultures, the director was also out of his element in this melodramatic romance. Silent screen heartthrob Charles Farrell dutifully fills the role of the stringent, sexy Arabian—much to Hawks’ and certainly contemporary viewers’ dismay—while Norwegian star Greta Nissen seems more credible and comfortable as the feisty, independent Fabienne. In addition to beautifully filmed vignettes within the visually sumptuous—if exoticized—“Arabia,” the picture delivers many other surprises, including a shocking scene of an execution ordered by Fazil; the couple’s sweet and intimate pre-Code courtship; and an even racier, provocatively detailed sequence inside Fazil’s elaborate harem. Preserved by the Museum of Modern Art.

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Friday July 26 at 7pm
Saturday August 10 at 7pm

Rio Bravo

Directed by Howard Hawks. With John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson
US 1959, 35mm, color, 141 min

Viewed by many as the peak of Hawks’ career, if not the Western in total, Rio Bravo boasts the director in full command of his peculiar brand of plotless genre cinema, grinding narrative momentum down to a slow crawl to keep the spotlight on the rich character interplay for which his work is revered. At the heart of the film is a drawn-out duel between a sheriff (John Wayne) and the powerful rancher (John Russell) whose brother he locked up for murder, but the real meat of this lengthy, digressive “hangout” movie is the camaraderie shared between Wayne and his co-stars while their characters negotiate their next moves in the small-town jail. As the sheriff’s right-hand men, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan mine humor and depths of feeling from cliched archetypes, while Angie Dickinson, clad in a dazzling array of costumes, embodies an ideal Hawksian love interest as the whip-smart gambler who steals Wayne’s affection. In its general allegiance to good vibes over plot—never more apparent than when the film halts all mounting suspense for back-to-back group musical performances (a sequence singled out by critic Nick Pinkerton as quite possibly “the apex of American culture”)—Rio Bravo offers perhaps the most radical storytelling exercise in Hawks’ oeuvre, one that altered the course of his art thereafter.

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Saturday July 27 at 7pm

High Noon

Directed by Fred Zinnemann. With Gary Cooper, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges
US 1952, DCP, b/w, 85 min

Fred Zinnemann’s now-classic moral Western was despised by Hawks and John Wayne, who decried the Austrian-born director’s vision of the West as “un-American.” In truth, Zinnemann was inspired by the distinctly “un-American” sentiments transforming Hollywood—the HUAC trials and Red Scare that had punished many politically outspoken artists and victimized countless others with a culture of fear and self-serving conservative rectitude. Viewed today, High Noon stands upright not only as a cautionary tale about how the high road is often the loneliest, but also as a remarkable exploration of subjective and expressive narrative in which the almost real-time structure allows each passing minute to be felt as lashes across the back of Gary Cooper’s sheriff as he walks in a kind of Passion through the increasingly deserted town toward the deadly showdown that awaits. DCP courtesy Swank.

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Saturday July 27 at 9pm

Ceiling Zero

Directed by Howard Hawks. With James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, June Travis
US 1936, 35mm, b/w, 95 min

Ceiling Zero offers a standout early example of Hawks’ penchant for mixing seemingly incompatible tonal registers. Pointing ahead to Only Angels Have Wings, the film’s first half is dedicated to the screwball banter of Dizzy (James Cagney), Tex (Stuart Erwin) and Jake (Pat O’Brien), lifelong friends whose enduring passion for flying has led them all to careers in commercial aviation. In these early scenes, Hawks savors the easy rapport and overlapping one-liners shared among the men, and the mood becomes playfully, insinuatingly erotic when Dizzy falls for a flirtatious flight trainee (June Travis). But naivete and overconfidence quickly spell danger as the young pilots find themselves on nerve-wracking missions in the sky, where storm clouds and enveloping fog prompt emergency landings and casualties. The film’s second half pivots to tragedy, with Cagney negotiating a moving transition from boorish adolescent to sympathetic, hardened adult. Shot on a shoestring, Ceiling Zero makes stirring use of practical effects to emphasize the claustrophobia and peril associated with his characters’ vocation.

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Sunday July 28 at 7pm
Friday August 2 at 7pm

El Dorado

Directed by Howard Hawks. With John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan
US 1967, 35mm, color, 126 min

In the mythic Old West town of El Dorado, two aging cowboys—one a drunken sheriff (Robert Mitchum) and the other a gunman-for-hire (John Wayne)—team up with a bearded old codger (Arthur Hunnicutt), a young eccentric (James Caan), and a tough-as-nails saloon owner (Charlene Holt) in a face-off against a rancher (Ed Asner) and his pack of thugs. El Dorado’s stock scenario is a bald-faced retread of Rio Bravo (screenwriter Leigh Brackett even lampooned it as “The Son of Rio Bravo Rides Again”), but Hawks is one of the rare filmmakers who can repeat himself without really repeating himself. In its subtle variations on the prior film’s winning formula, El Dorado becomes something altogether new and welcome, not to mention a sly treatise on the twilight stage of Hawks’ career. The film’s mischievous narrative structure first lures the viewer with rising tension, then leaps ahead in time to a series of slow builds and frantic shootouts, the most memorable of which takes place around a church bell tower and finds the men strategically incorporating the bells into their attack (“let’s make some music!” hollers Wayne). In between the torrents of gunfire, Hawks clears space for his amiable characters to simply enjoy each other’s company and figure out what to do with their ailing bodies, a subplot that gradually reveals itself as a running commentary on the decline of the idealized Hawksian hero.

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Live Musical Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Monday July 29 at 7pm

Fig Leaves

Directed by Howard Hawks. With George O’Brien, Olive Borden, Phyllis Haver
US 1926, 35mm, b/w, silent, 70 min

Upon proving himself capable of moralistic drama with The Road to Glory, Hawks was determined to fashion something much lighter and more commercial for his sophomore effort. He begins by establishing the ancient history of marital combat with his lead couple as the original Adam and Eve, who live a fanciful proto-Flintstones lifestyle complete with elaborate “high-tech” stone-age contraptions and a pet dinosaur. As time leaps ahead to the 1920s, so do the relationship jokes, particularly those involving women and clothes. These come to an entertaining crossroads when a famous fashion designer’s car hits Eve—accompanied by a spectacular special effect. Unbeknownst to a clueless Adam, she is pulled into Josef André’s illustrious design house as his latest muse. Hawks caps his bubbly sex comedy with a dazzling fashion show sequence—originally screened in two-strip Technicolor—featuring stunning gowns designed by Adrian (before he was the Adrian). Including an array of theatrical characters—such as Eve’s serpentine, conniving friend, Adam’s brutish pal Eddie and the effete André—the picture is a primordial hotbed of Hawks’ themes and tropes which would come to full flower in his celebrated romantic comedies of the 40s and 50s. Preserved by the Museum of Modern Art.

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Sunday August 4 at 7pm
Sunday August 11 at 7pm

Red River

Directed by Howard Hawks. With John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru
US 1948, DCP, b/w, 125 min

In Red River,Hawks stages a brewing tension between Thomas Dunson (John Wayne) and Matt Garth (Montgomery Clift), an antipathy famously shared by the men playing them. While Wayne was delivering one of his iconic performances in a Western, Clift was making his screen debut, and the tussling that explodes onscreen as the cattle rancher and his protégé embark on a massive pilgrimage to Missouri has occasionally been seen as an allegory for the generational shift developing in Hollywood between old-fashioned stardom and method acting. Whatever extratextual fascination the casting may have, however, cedes the floor to the film itself, a riveting Old West yarn brought to life by some of Hawks’ most muscular filmmaking. Boasting monumentally-scaled sequences of cattle migration across America’s vast heartland, the film is impressively choreographed and visually thrilling, though its dramatic core resides in the passages of downtime when Dunson and his crew set up camp to refuel and plan for the next day’s challenges. It’s here, when Dunson refuses to compromise on his original lucrative plot even in the face of developing obstacles, that the rift with Garth is established, turning the film’s surrogate father-son tale into a study of violently clashing male egos that Hawks nevertheless settles in one of his great tributes to the power of fraternity. DCP courtesy Park Circus.

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Monday August 5 at 7pm

Man’s Favorite Sport?

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Rock Hudson, Paula Prentiss, Maria Perschy
US 1964, 35mm, color, 120 min

Right from its spunky opening credit sequence—a Pop art animation slicing and dicing various photographs of beautiful women over a theme song about man’s insatiable appetite for the fairer sex—Man’s Favorite Sport? announces its anarchic, tongue-in-cheek spirit, which seemingly promises a movie of unchecked sexual energy. After Hawks introduces protagonist Roger Willoughby (Rock Hudson), however, the tune is revealed as gently ironic: this is a man defined by his resistance to emotionality, placing him in a lineage of comic Hawksian prudes like David in Bringing Up Baby or Bertram in Ball of Fire. Indeed, the former film is the template for this absurd comedy of humiliation, which finds Willoughby, a “fishing expert” who has actually never fished because he’s disgusted by fish, enduring one embarrassment after another at the hands of Abigail Page (Paula Prentiss), who is trying to recruit him for a tournament she helps promote. In addition to being a vehicle for outrageous sight gags such as a bear cub riding a red motor bike, the plot is ultimately another of Hawks’ explorations of male-female antagonism as a route to love, even if the hindsight awareness of Hudson’s homosexuality turns it into an altogether more subversive romp.

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Friday August 9 at 7pm

The Big Sky

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Kirk Douglas, Dewey Martin, Elizabeth Threatt
US 1952, 35mm, b/w, 122 min

Like Red River,Hawks’ second spin with the Western concerns a linear pilgrimage—a cattle drive in the earlier film, a row up the choppy Missouri River here—during which relationships and rivalries are molded over the course of an ambling, episodic structure. Conflict develops in the form of a spat between the heroes, a band of adventurers led by the brawny Jim Deakins (Kirk Douglas), and the local communities that they brush up against in their travels north, whether it be a local fur company that doesn’t welcome the competition or a tribe of Blackfoot Indians. Beyond its modest pleasures as an action film, though, The Big Sky functions as a paean to the daring spirit of early frontier life, capturing the raw, untamed majesty of the landscape and the serene evenings spent camped out under the stars, singing songs and imagining what lies ahead. Eventually, a typically Hawksian love triangle forms between Jim, his best friend Boone (Dewey Martin) and a Blackfoot princess (Elizabeth Threatt) who the men intend to return to the locals, but even this gesture toward narrative convention takes a backseat to the leisurely pace of day-to-day exploration. Print courtesy Warner Bros.

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Monday August 12 at 7pm

Sergeant York

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie
US 1941, 35mm, b/w, 134 min

Hawks’ highest-grossing success, and his only film to earn him a nomination from the Academy, was this rousing coming-of-age drama about decorated US Army Lieutenant Alvin York, a real-life figure whose path from juvenile delinquency to national heroism was tailor-made for the screen. As portrayed by Gary Cooper, York is an irresponsible rube from the backwoods of Tennessee who nevertheless emanates fundamental decency, making his eventual, belated embrace of Catholicism, spurred on by the local pastor (Walter Brennan), feel like a natural outgrowth of his character. Internal dilemmas arise when the draft comes knocking, but York, after much deliberation, accepts military service as the moral path and goes on to lead in the historic capture of over one hundred enemy soldiers. In the dark years of WWII, Sergeant York’s earnest portrait of rural Americana, deep Christian faith, and rousing nationalism proved a winning formula, making it one of the era’s critical pieces of war propaganda in spite of how little combat it actually dramatizes. The bulk of the film’s narrative is instead concentrated around Tennessee, an idyllic swath of heartland recreated in the studio with remarkable painted backdrops and carefully weathered props, all of which enable Hawks to indulge a pictorialism unique to his filmography. Preserved by the Library of Congress.

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Friday August 16 at 7pm

Rio Lobo

Directed by Howard Hawks. With John Wayne, Jorge Rivero, Jennifer O’Neill
US 1970, 35mm, color, 114 min

Hawks’ final film channels Vietnam-era domestic resentments into a vacillating tale of Civil War betrayal and vengeance, one that finds the seasoned auteur returning to tropes from Rio Bravo and El Dorado to reckon with a changing social epoch. Centering the film is John Wayne as the world-weary Cord McNally, a Union colonel who loses several of his men to a Confederate railroad attack after a traitor in his midst sells precious information regarding a gold shipment. McNally’s pursuit of justice leads him to the dusty Texas town of Rio Lobo, where he finds himself navigating local corruption alongside a young ex-Confederate prisoner (Jorge Rivero, loosely reprising the Dean Martin role in Bravo), a drunken codger (Jack Elam), and a pair of aggrieved local women (Jennifer O’Neill, Sherry Lansing). Barricades, standoffs, and shooting matches ensue, but Hawks savors the leisure time in between. The real spectacle in Rio Lobo is watching Wayne’s usual heroic authority fade to a sense of quiet resignation under the harsh desert sun.

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Friday August 16 at 9:30pm

The Road to Glory

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Fredric March, Warner Baxter, Lionel Barrymore
US 1936, 35mm, b/w, 95 min

Replacing the aerial dread of The Dawn Patrol and Today We Live with the bleakness of trench life during WWI, The Road to Glory again finds Hawks proffering a statement on the cyclicality and futility of war, a wrenching ceremony in which men die on reckless missions before being replaced by new recruits who will meet the same fate. In its nightmarish opening passage, showing a breakout of grenade smoke and gunfire in a city “somewhere in France,” the film stresses the pervasiveness of combat and the way war rules over everyone regardless of direct involvement; the trench scenes that follow, scrupulously fabricated on a Fox backlot, only further accentuate the doomed atmosphere. Not merely a morose death march, however, Hawks locates pockets of warmth in the camaraderie of the soldiers and in the figure of Monique (June Lang), a young woman of religious faith who shares a therapeutic relationship with Captain Paul La Roche (Warner Baxter) and becomes a symbol of hope for the entire battalion. When newly transferred Lieutenant Michel Denet (Fredric March) joins the fold and falls for Monique, the script shifts into melodrama, but Hawks keeps the emphasis largely on the tragic rapport between the men, who are driven to drink, abandoned by God, but always united by conversation and song. Print courtesy 20th Century Fox.

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Saturday August 17 at 7pm

A Song Is Born

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Benny Goodman
US 1948, 16mm, color, 112 min

Looking for another vehicle for Danny Kaye, who was on a roll, Sam Goldwyn wanted Hawks to remake Ball of Fire, though it was a mere five years old. In this second, Technicolor iteration, the group of bachelor professors are at work on an exhaustive encyclopedia of music. Kaye plays Hobart Frisbee, the intellectual naïf who falls for Virginia Mayo’s interloping nightclub chanteuse with mob connections. The appearance of multitalented duo Buck and Bubbles—similar to their roles in William Keighley’s Varsity Show (1937)—livens up the professors’ stodgy studies; Frisbee is transformed by their jazzy renditions of classical music, and his explorations into these unfamiliar rhythms comprise some of the movie’s most entertaining scenes. Unlike his relationship to the leads, Hawks was as charmed as contemporary viewers will be by the impressive line-up of jazz greats—including Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey and Lionel Hampton—who form a striking ensemble of black and white musicians performing together. For a Hollywood picture in 1948, depicting the lead character so out of place and out of touch when entering a lively, packed jazz club seems revolutionary, a momentary vision of an industry unprejudiced.

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Saturday August 17 at 9pm

O. Henry’s Full House

Directed by Howard Hawks, Henry Koster, Henry Hathaway, Jean Negulesco and Henry King. With John Steinbeck, Charles Laughton, Marilyn Monroe
US 1952, 35mm, b/w, 117 min

Due to its poor reception, Hawks’ entry in Twentieth Century Fox’s omnibus tribute to O. Henry was eventually removed by the studio before the film opened widely—thereby negating the title’s poker reference. Apparently only made as a favor to Darryl Zanuck, “The Ransom of Red Chief” is the most slapstick of the bunch, relying mainly on the antics and commentary of radio comedian Fred Allen and dry-humored celebrity Oscar Levant playing two amateur kidnappers who become the victims in their own crime. Of the episodes by the other directors, some of the most indelible include Henry Koster’s “The Cop and the Anthem” starring Charles Laughton as an erudite hobo who can’t get arrested; Henry Hathaway’s “The Clarion Call” with a marvelously manic Richard Widmark tormenting Dale Robertson’s stoic criminal-turned-cop; and of course, the segments featuring narrator and host John Steinbeck in his singular film appearance. Print courtesy 20th Century Fox.

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Sunday August 18 at 4:30pm

Come and Get It

Directed by Howard Hawks and William Wyler. With Edward Arnold, Joel McCrea, Frances Farmer
US 1936, 35mm, b/w, 105 min

For his second outing under the employ of notoriously hands-on producer Samuel Goldwyn, Hawks tackled Come and Get It, Edna Ferber’s panoramic survey of the turn-of-the-century logging business in the American Midwest. Evidently finding the novel’s multi-generation timeline and rise-and-fall structure too sprawling for his taste, Hawks cleaved the source text neatly into two halves: one, set in 1884, focusing on the halcyon days of Chicagoan entrepreneur Barney Glasgow (Edward Arnold), and one, which jumps ahead to 1907, dedicated to his curdling old-age success and infatuation with the daughter of his long-lost beloved (both embodied by Frances Farmer in a spectacular starring debut). This trimming, which sacrificed much of Ferber’s measured middle section, so perturbed Goldwyn that the director was replaced in the final days of shooting by William Wyler, but the late-stage rehire did little to dampen Hawks’ indelible mark on the material. A lengthy sequence at a pub predates To Have and Have Not in juggling simultaneous strands of witty romantic banter, bawdy comedy and musical performance, and contextualizing glimpses of the Wisconsin logging process—shot documentary-style by frequent collaborator Richard Rosson—lend the kind of realist texture that Hawks famously used to ground his stories.

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Sunday August 18 at 7pm

Barbary Coast

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Miriam Hopkins, Edward G. Robinson, Joel McCrea
US 1935, 35mm, b/w, 91 min

Lured to work with Samuel Goldwyn for the first time by the prospect of his biggest salary yet, Hawks signed on to Barbary Coast with reservations about the powerful producer’s tendencies. Nevertheless, he managed to partially steer the project in his favor, bringing on old screenwriting standbys Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur to adapt Herbert Asbury’s source material and inaugurating a long, fruitful working relationship with one-of-a-kind character actor Walter Brennan. A potboiler romance set in a decadent Gold Rush-era San Francisco, the film tells the story of the charmingly money-hungry Mary “Swan” Rutledge (played by Lubitsch muse Miriam Hopkins), who, quickly upon her arrival in the city, is indoctrinated into an amoral casino enterprise run by rich mobster Luis Chamalis (Edward G. Robinson). Meanwhile, wide-eyed poet-prospector Jim Carmichael (Joel McCrea) woos Mary with dreams of greener pastures, thus inciting a love triangle that bristles with the threat of violence. Gradually switching gears from its frank depiction of new-money sinfulness to meet the demands of an uplifting romantic melodrama, Barbary Coast occasionally shows the effects of MGM and Hays Code interference, but its evocative portrayal of early San Francisco as a foggy labyrinth of rickety boardwalks and ominous, sky-high ship masts give it a distinct Gothic character all its own.

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Monday August 19 at 7pm

The Crowd Roars

Directed by Howard Hawks. With James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ann Dvorak
US 1932, 35mm, b/w, 85 min

The rugged, treacherous subculture of high-speed drag racing, later revisited by Hawks in Red Line 7000, proved a suitable subject for the director in this early James Cagney vehicle. Death-defying danger was rarely expressed in Hawks’ oeuvre as potently as in the numerous race sequences here, which utilize staccato editing, rickety rear projection, dust and wind effects, and emphatic close-ups to stress the roaring energy of the sport. These gripping action scenes bolster a melodramatic narrative of clashing egos and self-destruction in which Cagney plays an alcoholic lout who relentlessly tears down his far-too-tolerant girlfriend (Ann Dvorak) and maintains an alternately mentoring and envious relationship with his brother (Eric Linden), a novice racer longing for his sibling’s skill. Such hot-blooded interpersonal conflicts don’t always play to Hawks’ strength in drawing out group dynamics and easy camaraderie, so The Crowd Roars is ultimately at its best on the pavement, where it looks ahead promisingly to the director’s later explorations of high-risk vocations. Preserved by the Library of Congress.

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Friday August 23 at 9pm

Red Line 7000

Directed by Howard Hawks. With James Caan, Laura Devon, Gail Hire
US 1965, 16mm, color, 110 min

Red Line 7000 finds Hawks returning to the stock-car racing milieu of his earlier The Crowd Roars with a larger cast and an even more dizzying sense of peril. Making spectacular use of several famous North Carolina NASCAR tracks (Daytona, Charlotte and Darlington Speedways), the film spends much of its nearly two-hour runtime on lengthy race sequences that alternate among the drivers, the crowd, the announcers and the pit crews, with Hawks’ eclectic visual style encompassing everything from whiplash-inducing zooms, immersive driver-POV shots, clarifying overhead scans of the track, and droll stationary coverage of the spectators. Away from the circuit, the film surveys the various friendships, romances and rivalries that develop among a group of drivers and the women who remain stuck in their orbit. Among them are James Caan’s taciturn tough guy Mike, the spunky French beauty who catches his eye (Marianna Hill), the handsome good boy (Skip Ward) who threatens his ego, and a woman (Gail Hire) convinced she’s cursed after losing two loved ones to disastrous crashes. Hawks stages these interpersonal dramas in a series of almost Pop settings (featuring notably early examples of product placement), from a modernist Holiday Inn painted in bubble-gum pink to a chintzy restaurant-bar outfitted in red leather and checkered tablecloths, and fills them with amusing detours like a pastiche of To Have and Have Not’s celebrated nightclub ballad scene—none of which fully offset the enveloping futility and tragedy in the lives of these characters. Print courtesy the Academy Film Archive.

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Saturday August 24 at 9pm

Today We Live

Directed by Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson. With Joan Crawford, Gary Cooper, Robert Young
US 1933, 35mm, b/w, 110 min

In the throes of WWI, Bogard (Gary Cooper), a bomber pilot, comes to live in the ancestral home of Diana (Joan Crawford) and falls immediately in love with her, much to the dismay of her fiancé Claude (Robert Young) and brother Ronnie (Franchot Tone). The skirmish for Diana’s affections that ensues is the heart of Today We Live,a melodrama based on William Faulkner’s shortstory “Turnabout” that finds Hawks in more nuanced narrative territory than usual. However, alongside the story’s requisite tragedies and combat scenes (for which the director recycled aerial footage from Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels and his own The Dawn Patrol), there is a familiar thread of fraternal communion whereby mutual respect is waged through competition and bravado. Bogard considers his work in aviation to be more courageous and dignified than Claude and Ronnie’s mysterious missions with the Navy, and Today We Live’s strongest scenes revolve around the men enlightening each other of their toils firsthand, devising impromptu tests of bravery while danger lurks in the immediate background. And though Hawks objected to MGM’s insistence on Crawford’s inclusion in the narrative, he ultimately finds ways to complicate her role as a put-upon woman of the war—most notably in the vaguely incestuous intimacy cultivated around the Diana/Ronnie relationship. Print courtesy Warner Bros.

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Friday August 30 at 7pm

Monkey Business

Directed by Howard Hawks. With Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Charles Coburn
US 1952, DCP, b/w, 97 min

Hawks’ final collaboration with Cary Grant sets a tall task for the star. As Dr. Barnaby Fulton, a chemist who drinks an experimental fountain of youth potion and regresses through various stages of his development, Grant must play multiple parts in one: a stuffy, unhappily-married adult; a manic, horny young man; and an inexhaustible, euphoric child. Naturally, Grant is up to the challenge, resulting in one of the actor’s greatest comic performances, a psychologically convincing progression through his gifts of verbal repartee and physical horseplay alike. But Barnaby isn’t the only one who drinks the potion. Monkey Business’ ingeniously silly structure plays like a tweak on the slasher movie, with various members of the cast imbibing the mysterious substance until eventually everyone is reduced to juvenile behavior—all because a monkey goes haywire in the lab. Among the overdose recipients is Barnaby’s discontented wife Edwina (Ginger Rogers), for whom both an inner brattiness and a girlish spunk re-emerge from under her surface docility to match Barnaby’s increasingly wild energy. As a result, this seemingly anarchic farce turns into a poignant reflection on the importance of maintaining youthful passion in romance. Restored DCP courtesy 20th Century Fox.

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