Howard Hawks

sarris howard hawkes 2v Howard Hawks“Late Hawks” is the provocative title of a retrospective at Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue) that covers the later, more neglected movies of Howard Hawks (1896-1977), plus a few earlier ringers like Red River (1948) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). Hawks’ career antedated the talkies—he made the silents The Road to Glory and Fig Leaves, both in 1926—and extended all the way to Rio Lobo, in 1970. He was eventually singled out by his admirers for stylistic consistency; in an interview, he declared that he consciously shot most of his scenes at the eye level of a standing onlooker. A director of parts as well as a unified whole, Hawks stamped his distinctively gritty view of life on adventure, gangster and private-eye melodramas; Westerns; musicals; and screwball comedies—the kind of thing Americans do best and appreciate least. That one can discern the same directorial signature over an unprecedentedly wide variety of genres is proof of his artistry. That one can still enjoy the genres for their own sake is proof of the artist’s professional urge to entertain.

By a not-so-strange coincidence, I am teaching my first course in Howard Hawks this fall semester, after 43 years of being engaged in film studies. Why the long wait? Like his illustrious contemporaries, John Ford and Jean Renoir, he is as difficult to teach as the equally sublime Alfred Hitchcock and Buster Keaton are easy—that is, easier to teach to young people, and easier for young people to appreciate.

The Hawks series begins with Hatari! (1962), with John Wayne, Hardy Kruger, Elsa Martinelli, Bruce Cabot and Red Buttons. It will screen on Wednesday, June 4, at 6:30; Friday, June 6, at 8:30; and Sunday, June 8, at 3:30.

Next up will be Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), with Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Charles Coburn, Tommy Noonan, Elliott Reid and George Winslow. Showtimes are Wednesday, June 4, at 9:30; Friday, June 6, at 6:30; Saturday, June 7, at 9:30; and Sunday, June 8, at 6:30. After that? Land of the Pharaohs (1955), with Jack Hawkins, Joan Collins, Dewey Martin, James Robertson Justice, Alexis Minotis and Sydney Chaplin. It will be shown on Thursday, June 5, at 6:30; Saturday, June 7, at 4; and Sunday, June 8, at 8:30.

Man’s Favorite Sport? (1964), with Rock Hudson, Paula Prentiss, Maria Perschy, John McGiver, Charlene Holt, Roscoe Karns, Norman Alden and Regis Toomey, will screen on Thursday, June 5, at 9:30 and Saturday, June 7, at 7.

Rio Bravo (1959), with John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Walter Brennan, Angie Dickinson, Ward Bond, Claude Akins, John Russell, Bob Steele and Harry Carey Jr. screens Wednesday, June 11, at 6:45; Friday, June 13, at 9:15; and Saturday, June 14, at 3:30.

Also on the bill: El Dorado (1966), with John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Charlene Holt, Michele Carey, Arthur Hunnicutt, R. G. Armstrong and Edward Asner. Showtimes are Wednesday, June 11, at 9:30; Saturday, June 14, at 6:30; and Sunday, June 15, at 3:30. And Rio Lobo (1970), with John Wayne, Jorge Rivero, Jennifer O’Neill, Jack Elam, Victor French, Christopher Mitchum, Susana Dosamantes, Mike Henry, David Huddleston, Bill Williams, Sherry Lansing and Jim Davis, on Thursday, June 12, at 6:45; Saturday, June 14, at 9; and Sunday, June 15, at 8:45.

Last but not least: Red River (1948), with John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Walter Brennan, Joanne Dru, John Ireland, Noah Beery Jr., Paul Fix, Coleen Gray, Harry Carey Jr. and Harry Carey Sr., will be shown Thursday, June 12, at 9:15; Friday, June 13, at 6:45; and Sunday, June 15, at 6.

asarris@observer.com