Howard Hawks

Howard Hawks


Howard Hawks
Film: East side of the 1700 block of Vine Street
Director | Producer | Screenwriter
Born Howard Winchester Hawks on May 30, 1896 in Goshen, Ind.
Died Dec. 26, 1977 in Palm Springs, CA

Howard Hawks' talent for developing major film personalities and outspoken commitment to movies-as-entertainment made him one of Hollywood's premier directors.

The legendary filmmaker helped launch the careers of such superstars as John Wayne, Cary Grant, Montgomery Clift and Lauren Bacall.

Hawks, whose wide-ranging films included "Scarface" (in 1932), "Sergeant York," "To Have and Have Not," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "I Was a Male War Bride" and "Red River," was internationally respected for his craft.

The versatile veteran of more than 40 films always seemed most at ease when directing a movie that depicted the camaraderie of rugged men facing a crisis and spotlighted the friendship and loyalty between the two.

"A number of my movies have been love stories between men," he once remarked.

Hawks always believed the good guys should win, and they usually did in the movies he made.

"I'm a storyteller," Hawks once said. "I just made pictures that appealed to me. I found if I like them, why then the public seemed to like them too!"

The director was especially adept at sensing star quality and developing it.

He was credited with picking George Raft's face out of the crowd at a prizefight and putting the onetime dancer into the supporting role of Rinaldo in "Scarface," the story of gangster Al Capone, who was portrayed by Paul Muni, another acting find of Hawks.

He was given his "break" in Hollywood by Jesse Lasky, who hired Hawks in 1917 as a prop boy for the Famous Players-Lasky (later Paramount) production of "The Little Princess," starring Mary Pickford.

His first freelance job as a director was also his first talking motion picture, the unsentimental World War II air-squadron drama "Dawn Patrol."

In 1932, Hawks produced his gangster masterpiece, "Scarface," with Muni and Raft.

Despite Hawks' motion picture credits, he never won an Academy Award as a director.

His only directing nomination came in 1941 for "Sergeant York." Gary Cooper, who starred in that film, won the Oscar for lead actor.

In private life, Hawks was the kind of glamorous figure that Hollywood of an older day loved: He raced cars and planes, bred horse, fished with Ernest Hemingway, hunted with Gary Cooper and wrote motion picture scripts with William Faulkner.

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Points of interest

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    1941 Best Director Sergeant York Nomination
    1974 Honorary Award Win

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