Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fun Facts about Howard Hawks

Howard Hawks was born May 30, 1896 in Goshen, Indiana. He was the eldest of five children born to his mother and father, however in 1911, the youngest of the siblings, Helen, died from sudden food poisoning. They had moved to Pasadena, California around 1909, in hopes of improving Helen's health and began spending their summers in Wisconsin. After Helen's death, the family moved to Glendora, California. Hawks was an average student throughout school, but thanks to his family's wealth, he was sent to an elite private school in New Hampshire right after his junior year in high school, where he lived between 1913-1914. While living there, Hawks often attended theatre performances in Boston, which was quite close by. In 1914, Howard Hawks moved back to California where he graduated from Pasadena High School. Later that year, 1914, he was accepted to Cornell College in Ithaca, New York, where he majored in mechanical engineering and became a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon. He was still an average student, and friends remember him spending his time drinking and playing craps rather than studying, yet he was also known for being a big reader of American and British literature.

In 1916, Howard Hawks met Victor Fleming, who at the time was an auto mechanic but would later become well known for directing/producing The Wizard of OZ. Meeting Fleming led up to Hawks taking his first job in the film industry: a prop boy for a film, In Again, Out Again, in which Fleming was the choreographer. He ended up redoing the set for the movie himself since the set designer was not available. Int 1917, Hawks was drafted to fight during the First World War, yet before he was sent off, he managed to work on the Mary Pickford film The Little Princess as well as The American. While in the army, Hawks never saw any action, but eagerly returned to Hollywood after the war.

Howard Hawks source: Wikipedia
Howard and his brother and Yale graduate, Kenneth Hawks, moved to Hollywood. Howard's first important job came after he used the family wealth to lend money to studio head, Jack Warner. In return, Warner paid back the loan quickly and hired Hawks as a producer for a new series of one-reels staring Monty Banks, an Italian comedian. When Hawks left the series, he formed his own group called Associated Producers, which created fourteen films between 1920-1923. The group drifted apart in 1923, when Hawks decided he wanted to direct rather than produce.

Throughout his career, Hawks made a name for himself in silent films as well as in sound films. Between 1925-1929, he worked on silent films including: The Road to Glory (1926), Cradle Snatchers (1927), and The Air Circus (1928). When the talkies came out, both Howard and his brother, Kenneth, who was also a director, jumped on the bandwagon and began directing talkies. Kenneth, however, died January, 1930 while filming Such Men Are Dangerous, during which filming was taking place up in the air with three planes, two for cameras and the third for the stunt man, when the two camera planes crashed killing ten people, including Kenneth. This was considered the first major on-set accident in Hollywood and made national news. Howard's career continued with the talkies, though he first had to re-prove himself to studios who believed he would be no good after his silent film career. in 1930, Hawks reentered the film career with his first all sound film, The Dawn Patrol, which became one of the biggest hits on 1930. He hired by his previous rival Howard Hughes in 1930 to direct his film Scarface (1932). Other early talkie films from Hawks include: The Criminal Code (1931), The Crowd Roars (1932), Tiger Shark (1932), and a three-picture film composed of: Today We Live, The Prizefighter and the Lady, and Viva Villa! after which Hawks walked out on his MGM contract without completing the last two films, due to studio interference during his filming.

In 1934, Hawks made his way into a contract with Colombia Studios and continued filming here. He directed four films before getting fired in 1936, during the filming of Come and Get It, by producer Samuel Goldwyn.

In 1938, Hawks directed the screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby for RKO Pictures, which was called "The screwiest of screwball comedies" by a film critic. While this was unpopular at first, over time Bringing Up Baby became known as Hawks' masterpiece film. He continued to produce films, mostly in the screwball comedy but some in other genres, up through 1970. Some of his bigger hits included: His Girl Friday (1940) which won him 2 Academy Awards in 1941 for Best Actor and Best Editing, Ball of Fire (1941) playfully based off of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Outlaw (1943) with Howard Hughes staring Russell Crowe which was originally set to be released in 1941 but because of the Production Code had to be continuously re-edited until 1943, Air Force (1943), To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Red River (1948), A Song Is Born (1948) as a remake of his earlier film Ball of Fire, I Was a Male War Bride (1949), The Thing from Another World (1951) his first science fiction film, The Big Sky (1952), Monkey Business (1952) staring Marilyn Monroe and called Hawks' "most organic comedy", Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) in which Marilyn Monroe famously sings her song 'Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend', Land of the Pharaohs (1955), Rio Bravo (1959) starring John Wayne and one critic claimed that if he "were asked to choose a film that would justify the existence of Hollywood...it would be Rio Bravo"(Robin Wood), Hatari! (1962) again with John Wayne, Man's Favorite Sport (1964) was his final comedy, then Red Line 7000 (1965), and his final two films also starring John Wayne were El Dorado (1967) and Rio Lobo (1970).

For awards, he was nominated for Academy Award for Best Director in 1942, but he didn't receive his only Oscar until 1975 when he received an honorary award from the Academy. He does have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to the film industry. He also has three films on AFI's (the American Film Institute's) 100 Years...100 Laughs, including Bringing Up Baby (#14), His Girl Friday (#19), and Ball of Fire (#92).

Howard Hawks was married three times and had three children, two children, a daughter, Barbara, and son, David, with his first wife, Athole Shearer, and the third, Kitty, with his second wife, Slim Keith. Hist third wife was actress Dee Hartford. He died December 26, 1977 due to complications from a fall he had taken several weeks earlier in his home in Palm Springs, California.

Hawks was well thought of throughout his life and even after. Jean-Luc Godard, a French-Swiss film director, screen writer, and critic called Hawks "the greatest American artist". Another critic, Leonard Maltin, calls Hawks "the greatest American director who is not a household name".

No comments:

Post a Comment