Howard Hawks Blogathon- Day 4
The Howard Hawks blogathon continues into Day 4, this time we have on Red River from Ed Copeland again and an interesting one on Hawks comedy movies by Leticia from Brazil followed by Jason’s take on To Have and Have Not.
After his excellent post on His Girl Friday, Edward Copeland is back again with another great post. This time he explores Hawk’s classic Western, Red River. Red River dealt with a tale of father son conflict, set against the backdrop of a cattle drive. In Edward’s words
Hawks made other great Westerns (most notably Rio Bravo, which also featured Wayne and Walter Brennan), but Red River, despite its abrupt climax, remains my favorite with its tale of a long cattle drive, surrogate father-son conflict and unmistakable gay subtext. Wayne admittedly was a limited actor, but he always was at his best when he played a character steeped in darkness and obsession such as Thomas Dunson here or Ethan Edwards in John Ford’s The Searchers. He’s helped immeasurably by getting to act opposite the young Clift, the antithesis of acting style when compared to Wayne. Hawks’ direction of the film itself truly amazes, especially in the many scenes of the huge numbers of cattle, all done in the days without the easy out of CGI.
The first moment when Lauren Bacall sits on Humphrey Bogart’s lap in To Have and Have Not, something inside me stirs in such a deep and private way that I’m uncomfortable watching the film with other people in the room. I can only imagine what Howard Hawks and the rest of the crew were thinking . . .To Have and Have Not is my all-time favorite Bogart film. I know it’s not as good as Casablanca. I know that many consider it a less-than-perfect attempt to recreate the magic that occurred between Rick Blaine and Ilsa. I don’t care.
Some directors have been known to specialize in a genre film. Thus, Hitchcock is the master of suspense, even having made the unusual comedy “A couple of the noise / Mr and Mrs. Smith” (1941), John Ford is the king of westerns, but has not won any of his four Best Director Oscar driving cowboys, and Frank Capra was always ready to make us laugh and reflect. Howard Hawks, like many others, has ventured into more than one genre, but it does not matter if they were comedies and westerns, he always used a lot of humor in their productions.