By Todd McCarthy
Joseph McBride had published a highly entertaining series of interviews with Ford’s friend and contemporary Howard Hawks in 1982 (Hawks on Hawks), but it fell to another critic of his generation, Todd McCarthy, to produce Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood, in 1997.
Hawks, a cofounder of the Directors Guild, was unusual in scrappy, knockabout early Hollywood; as an educated rich kid from Pasadena, he was slumming in what was still seen as a disreputable industry. For him it was initially another lark, like racing jalopies or biplanes, except that he thrived at it after being almost dared into it by his friend Victor Fleming.
Those who associate Hawks with dazzling wit, rat-a-tat dialogue and ebullient sexual gamesmanship may be sad to learn that he was a cold and distant man, very stubborn and determined, and often behaved cavalierly toward invaluable collaborators. You addressed him as “Howard” at your peril.
This being said, few directors have demonstrated such an astounding range and consistent level of quality over so many genres and decades, under such a recognizable directorial signature.
Review written by John Patterson.