5 days ago
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Three Good Scenes And No Bad Ones
Howard Hawks gets my vote for the most versatile director of all time. The man could direct anything. Comedy, noir, horror/sci-fi, and Westerns. Sure, many other directors have worked in several genres, but Hawks's contribution to every genre is incredible. Consider this:
-His Girl Friday is considered by many to be the quintessential screwball comedy.
-The Big Sleep. It's either this or The Maltese Falcon that's the best hard-boiled detective/film noir movie ever made.
-I'm partial to Rio Bravo, but Hawks also directed Red River. Two of the finest Westerns ever made. If you've never seen Rio Bravo, just watch the first five minutes - it's one of the best openings to any movie I've ever seen. There's literally no dialogue for most of it, yet we learn everything we need to about the characters, and we feel like we absolutely have to keep watching the film to see what happens to them.
-Let's not forget that he was largely responsible for The Thing. He's listed as producer, but apparently he oversaw most of the production and some claim he took over as director halfway through filming. The Thing is the perfect blend of old school sci-fi and horror.
-He also directed Sergeant York and To Have and Have Not.
The title of the post refers to Hawks's belief that, in order to make a good film, all you needed was "three good scenes, and no bad ones." That may be true, but most of his movies contain three great scenes and many, many good ones. It just doesn't get any better than when Margaret Sheridan opens the door and The Thing is standing right there; than when Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson pass the time between shoot-outs by singing a couple of tunes; or than when Bogart and Bacall...basically do anything together.