Well, this doesn't cover all of the films he made between the years in the title, just the three that I watched. The rest of the Hawks films I will watch will be Westerns so they'll get their own post. It's kind of hard to not be too critical of all these films, 'cause they all kinda suck. But the one thing that Hawks did was keep his cool, sophisticated style, and after Land of the Pharaohs (1955), he took a four year sabbatical in Europe to re-evaluate movies and the impact that television was having on them. He came back believing that people were really interested in characters, and that story and plots are basically regurgitations of the same mythic archetypes (which is basically true). That, to me, is really awesome, because that is what makes a great movie. I'm not sure if any of these are great, or even good, but it's hard not be appreciative of a man that thought long and hard about his craft.
Land of the Pharaohs, 1955
Dir: Howard Hawks
There are some people who say that this is Hawks weakest film, and it's hard not to agree. He tried to cash in on the "sword and sandals" epic craze that was going on in the '50s, but he felt he could create an "intelligent spectacle" (do you think James Cameron thinks like this?) The plot, the acting and scenarios are all kinda bad. The worst thing about this film is that it just doesn't feel like a Hawks film. It's too big, and loses the intimacy of most of his great films. He still has a lot of his great technical stuff like long takes and smooth transitions. If you listen to the commentary (which might be better than actually listening to the actors: the French loved this because they got dubs and never had to), Hawks was apparently interested in the building of the pyramids and the engineering that went into it, which is what he put into the film. This can be kind of interesting, except for the fact that it is all speculation. Also on the commentary, there are old interviews of Hawks talking with Peter Bogdanovich, and Hawks trashes on DeMille the whole time because he took epics so seriously. And maybe that's how you have to watch this. It's just a spectacle. You either like that or you don't. I have similar thoughts about Avatar (2009), I guess. I just wish that wasn't Fern Gully (1992) meets Pocahontas (1995) with explosions. That was last decade dude, we haven't forgot about them. James Cameron is the Cecil B. DeMille of our times. Have you seen an interview with that douche? Tell me he doesn't take himself seriously, please...
Dir: Howard Hawks
Holy fuckin' shit, John Wayne, you are so bad in this I can barely talk about anything else. But anyway, this is about big game hunters in Africa, and if it was just that, I'm sure it would be interesting. But of course there's other stuff (like how John Wayne can still tag women 40 years younger than him). The sweltering safari is some kind of metaphor for the battle of the sexes (gross) and John Wayne treats women like shit when he likes them. Wooooo! Wayne does not act. I think he drunk in a lot of scenes. Which might be awesome if this was about that or something. I don't know. I just found this atrocious most of the time. Hawks does his best to make it interesting, but I really couldn't get into it.
Man's Favorite Sport?, 1964
Dir: Howard Hawks
Again, another Hawks comedy that I just don't find that funny. It's also caught really hard in the 60s (the opening credits are so "swingin'"). I think, in retrospect though, the question mark in the title of this film says a lot more about Rock Hudson than it does about the character Roger Willoughby. Rock Hudson's Favorite Sport? Girls? Not so much...Watch the film (if you want, I don't necessarily recommend it) and you'll see. Works at Abercombie & Fitch, has a lot of men who look up to his "skills", girls don't understand his lack of interest, doesn't want to be outed as a "phony". All of this has to do with fishing in the film, but again, it must have hit pretty close to home for Hudson.