Search hard enough and you can find instances of fancy camerawork and editing among the scores of films that made up Howard Hawk’s five-decade career. But search for them you must, because this most direct of directors generally shunned film technique that called attention to itself.
When it came to making use of the extravagant filmic means at a director’s beck and call, Hawks — who was born 117 years ago this week — was no Welles or Hitchcock, Kubrick or Scorsese; yet he was their equal, and in many instances, their better.
From the silent era to the Sixties, Hawks prided himself a no-nonsense storyteller and, above all, a professional moviemaker on whom any studio could trust to deliver. The genre was of little importance: be it a Western, a crime story, a war tale, a musical, a historical epic, a screwball comedy or what have you, Hawks was there to get…
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