Sunday, October 01, 2006

Weekend Placeholder: Hawksian Women

Happy Yom Kippur, all (well, not all, but you know what I mean), and while we're repenting for our sins, here are some clips from Howard Hawks movies: Jean Arthur and Cary Grant in the final scene of Only Angels Have Wings and Angie Dickinson and John Wayne in the final scene of Rio Bravo.

This isn't quite a compare-and-contrast post (I'm actually going to do one later this week comparing Lewis Milestone's original The Front Page movie with the same scenes from Hawks's remake, His Girl Friday), but it's obvious, when you play the two scenes back to back, that Hawks (and writer Jules Furthman) lifted a lot from his earlier films in characterizing Dickinson in Rio Bravo, and indeed all his heroines in all his films; it's not a Hawks movie unless the heroine's crying makes both her and the man uncomfortable (the closest Hawks got to a non-comic crying scene is when he has Grant cry in Angels).

One of the reasons Hawks became such a favourite among auteurist critics is that he repeated certain motifs and even lines from movie to movie, so there could be no doubt that he was putting his own personal stamp on each film. Most obviously, Arthur's big line -- "I'm hard to get, all you have to do is ask me" -- would be repeated verbatim in To Have and Have Not and almost verbatim in Rio Bravo.

Arthur and Grant:

Dickinson and Wayne:

And just for the heck of it, a somewhat different but great scene with Carole Lombard and John Barrymore in Twentieth Century, which reminds us that Hawks's big contribution to film comedy was his insistence that handsome leading men and beautiful leading ladies should make even bigger fools of themselves than "real" comedians:

No comments: