Tuesday, April 3, 2007

April 3rd Log

1939, Howard Hawks, United States

Repeat Viewing, Turner Classic Movies

Pioneer American filmmaker Howard Hawks was a master in characterization and narrative. Maybe not the poetic or artistic visionary such as Hitchcock, Orson Welles, or John Ford, but Hawks is the great master of narrative and perhaps the best “storyteller” in American cinema history. His versatility is matched by almost no one and it further establishes Hawks mastery of narrative and character. Simply put, his films are straight-forward, flawlessly paced, and well told films that could easily be placed within genres… and Hawks made them all! Without the visual style of many of his peers of the era, and with heavy-focus on narrative, Hawks still made films with a strong artistic and personal expression, much of what can be discovered underneath the surfaces of his narratives. There is a sense of adventure and energy that emerge from Hawks’ detailed examination of his characters decisions. Hawks characters tend to hide their true feelings either through silence or endless talking (such is the case in the non-stop dialogue of his screwball comedies). The center of most of Hawks narratives are characters that need or grow and believe in one another, and Hawks’ films follow this development through both feeling and thought. Though often not referred to as his greatest film, Only Angels Have Wings may be the quintessential Hawks film in capturing his themes and characterizations. The story follows a group of fliers (lead by Cary Grant) who pilot mail across a dangerous mountain in South America. It's an intelligent and at times philosophical film which blends comedy, romance, tension, adventure, and morality. The performances and on screen chemistry of Cary Grant and the always charming Jean Arthur is perfect. Also making an appearance is a young Rita Hayworth, who's presence alone is always worth attention. The film moves along at a pitch-perfect pace before reaching its lovely closing moments. Hawks has made better films, but Only Angels Have Wings is a definitive in many ways, and stands as a shining example of his versatile skills as a master filmmaker of the studio era.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home