The Big Sleep (1946). 114 minutes. Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Humphrey Bogart (as Philip Marlowe), Lauren Bacall (as Vivian Sternwood Rutledge), John Ridgely (as Eddie Mars), Martha Vickers (as Carmen Sternwood), Charles Waldron (as General Sternwood), Elisha Cook, Jr. (as Harry Jones), Louis Jean Heydt (as Joe Brody), Bob Steele (as Lash Canino), and Dorothy Malone (as Acme Bookstore proprietress). Screenplay by William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman. Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler.
The Big Sleep is a befuddling but magical detective movie. Its plot points are overly complicated, much of the action does not make sense, and the audience is left with many unanswered questions when it ends. But The Big Sleep’s relentless use of cool attitudes, mystery-rich moodiness, and snappy, arch dialogue encourages us to enjoy the story’s stylish atmosphere and characterizations in lieu of the usual and more predictable pleasure that we might take in successfully unraveling a gumshoe’s investigation. The result is … Read the rest
Bringing Up Baby (1938). 102 minutes. Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Cary Grant (as Dr. David Huxley), Katharine Hepburn (as Susan Vance), May Robson (as Elizabeth Carlton Random), Charles Ruggles (as Major Horace Applegate), Walter Catlett (as Constable Slocum), Barry Fitzgerald (as Aloysius Gogarty), Fritz Feld (as Dr. Fritz Lehman), Virginia Walker (as Alice Swallow), and George Irving (as Alexander Peabody).
Modern critics such as Peter Bogdanovich are right to give Bringing Up Baby high praise: it is wonderfully hilarious. But oddly enough, it was not a success upon its initial release. In fact, its failure was so painful to RKO that the studio fired its director, Howard Hawks. Following the release of the movie, Katharine Hepburn was labeled box-office poison by the president of the Independent Theatre Owners of America and left RKO as well. But Bringing Up Baby earned its well-deserved reputation for wit, expert pacing, and fantastic performances across the board when it was revived in the … Read the rest
Red River (1948). 127 minutes. Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring John Wayne (as Thomas Dunson), Montgomery Clift (as Matthew Garth), Walter Brennan (as Groot Nadine), Joanne Dru (as Tess Millay), Coleen Gray (as Fen), Harry Carey, Sr. (as Mr. Melville), John Ireland (as Cherry Valance), Harry Carey, Jr. (as Dan Latimer), Ivan Parry (as Bunk Kenneally), and Chief Yowlachie (as Two Jaw Quo). Music by Dmitri Tiomkin.
Red River ranks among the greatest celebrations of the open-air American West. During its over two-hour running time, only two scenes take place indoors, and both seem contrived. The fact that they feel out of place thus only reinforces our sense that this movie belongs outdoors underneath a wide, expansive sky. Red River seeks to impart its spirit of hugeness not only in the mass movement of its central cattle drive but also with the mass enthusiasm of its men. Take a look at the scene where John Wayne as Thomas Dunson tells … Read the rest
Ball of Fire (1941). 111 minutes. Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Barbara Stanwyck (as Katherine “Pussyfoot” O’Shea), Gary Cooper (as Professor Bertram Potts), S. Z. Sakall (as Professor Magenbruch), Richard Haydn (as Professor Oddley), and Dana Andrews (as Joe Lilac). Screenplay by Billy Wilder.
If you have ever seen Billy Wilder’s 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot, you will immediately notice the similarities between it and Ball of Fire, whose screenplay Wilder also wrote. Both involve characters going on the lam in conjunction with mob activity, a sexy nightclub singer with a ridiculous name (Sugar Cane in Some Like It Hot, Pussyfoot O’Shea in Ball of Fire), and men who have to transform themselves temporarily into their opposites in order to secure a woman’s affections. In Some Like It Hot, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon don female attire, with dirt-poor Curtis additionally and intermittently posing as a playboy millionaire in order to woo singer Marilyn … Read the rest
Scarface (1932). 94 minutes. Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Paul Muni (as Tony Camonte), Osgood Perkins (as Johnny Lovo), George Raft (as Guino Rinaldo), Boris Karloff (as Gaffney), Ann Dvorak (as Cesca Camonte), and Karen Morley (as Poppy). Produced by Howard Hughes.
“Oh, I knew Luciano and Costello, and even Capone, and lesser lights. It was easy to be in movies and not know them, but almost impossible to be in show business—Broadway—without knowing them, unless you never went out at night to a nightclub and never knew anybody in any form of show business. Unless you were the Lunts or Katharine Cornell, it was virtually impossible not to get to know them—they were so anxious for you to. Capone used to take four rows at the opening night for every play in Chicago and come backstage and see everybody. You couldn’t get to a nightclub without Costello sending over a bottle of champagne, or sit in Lindy’s without Luciano … Read the rest