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Howard Hawks

Robin Wood

Publication Year: 2006

Prolific director Howard Hawks made films in nearly every genre, from gangster movies like Scarface to comedies like Bringing Up Baby and Monkey Business and westerns like Rio Bravo. In this new edition of a classic text, author Robin Wood explores the ways in which Hawks pushed the boundaries of each genre and transformed the traditional forms in new, interesting, and creative ways. This reprint also contains an exciting new introduction by Wood, which shows how his thinking about Hawks has deepened over time without fundamentally changing. Since its original publication in 1972, Wood's Howard Hawks has set the terms for virtually all subsequent discussions of the director. The provocative chapters demonstrate the ways in which Hawks's films were affected by the director's personality and way of looking at and feeling things, and by his celebration of instinct, self-respect, group responsibility, and male camaraderie. Wood's connections between the professionalism of Hawks's action films and comedies, with their “lure of irresponsibility,” has become a standard way of conceptualizing Hawks's films and the model to which all later critical work has had to respond. This book remains as contemporary as when it was first released, although it is grounded in the auteur period of its publication. Robin Wood has stubbornly resisted the trends of academic film studies and in so doing has remained one of its most influential voices. Certain to be of interest to film scholars and students, this book will also be particularly useful as a text for university courses on Hawks, popular cinema, and authorship in film.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-ix

When the British film journal Movie published its first issue in 1962, it featured a chart that ranked directors according to their auteurist status, like Andrew Sarris's infamous "pantheon." Only two directors...

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Introduction to 2006 Edition

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pp. xi-xxv

Of all my early books (by which I mean those written before the early 1970s, when film criticism became film theory with the explosion of semiotics, and my own work was fundamentally transformed...

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1. Introduction to 1981 Edition

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pp. 1-10

There is a tendency to make the distinction between 'art' and 'entertainment' too rigid: the terms are even used as if they referred to directly opposed, mutually exclusive phenomena. Any attempt to define either will show...

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2. Self-Respect and Responsibility

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pp. 11-51

Only Angels Have Wings is a completely achieved masterpiece, and a remarkably inclusive film, drawing together the main thematic threads of Hawks's work in a single complex web. The opening shots vividly create Barranca...

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3. The Lure of Irresponsibility

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pp. 52-82

It may seem perverse to approach the comedies via a gangster film of exceptional ferocity, almost the only Hawks film in which the protagonist dies. But Scarface belongs with the comedies. There are interesting parallels between...

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4. The Group

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pp. 83-106

No two Hawks groups are quite the same—they are too much composed of individuals—and the nature of the group often differs radically from film to film. Red Line 7000 shows it at its loosest and most heterogeneous...

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5. Male Relationships

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pp. 107-123

A Girl in Every Port is the first example in Hawks's work of *a love story between two men'; it points forward especially to The Big Sky. The early film is the more fully realised: but The Big Sky is the more interesting and it has by far the more acceptable...

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6. The Instinctive Consciousness

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pp. 124-145

Often in Hawks strong superficial resemblances between films conceal deeper differences. If time and repeated viewings have confirmed Hatari!'s inferiority to Rio Bravo—it isn't the film one would send anyone to to convince...

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7. Down the Valley of the Shadow

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pp. 146-156

El Dorado is, at the moment, the most difficult of Hawks's films to come to terms with. Its relationship to Rio Bravo poses a number of difficulties, and commonly provokes two reactions: the critic who doesn't rate Hawks particularly high...

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Appendix: Failures and Marginal Works

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pp. 157-166

Hawks disowns Land of the Pharaohs, and requested its omission from the retrospective at the National Film Theatre in 1963. He accounts for its failure very simply: 'I didn't know how a Pharaoh talked5; a statement that gives an important...

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pp. 167-181

I am on principle against revising one's past work: it can lead only to confusion and anomaly. Inevitably, one moves on; were I to write a book on Hawks today, it would differ not merely in occasional sentences and a few judgments...


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pp. 182-209

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pp. 210

I want to acknowledge a general indebtedness to the criticism of Dr F. R. Leavis. There is no question of direct influence (I should be surprised to learn that Dr Leavis had ever heard of Howard Hawks); but I feel that any strength this book may be felt to have derives from the basis of...

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780814338377
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814332764

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 71
Publication Year: 2006

Edition: 2
Series Title: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series