Howard Hawks retrospective

The Brooklyn Paper
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BAMcinématek presents “Hawks,” September 15-30, a 16-film retrospective of director Howard Hawks featuring genre classics and rare films including “Scarface” (1932), “Ball of Fire” (1947), “The Big Sleep” (1946), “The Big Sky” (1952), “The Road to Glory” (1936) and “Tiger Shark” (1932).

It all happens at BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Avenue in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. Tickets are $11; $7.50 for seniors 65 and over, children under 12 and $7.50 for students 25 and under with valid ID.

For more, including screening times, call 718-636-4100 or visit

For more than a half-century, Hawks influenced every major film genre — war, musical, western, biopic, melodrama — when he wasn’t defining one as he did with prototypical screwball comedy “Twentieth Century,” or quintessential gangster pic “Scarface.”

A former race car driver and aviator in WWI, he started in the props department and worked his way up the ranks to director, where he was known as the consummate professional. Hawks’ films share a consistently flawless visual style, well-written stories, and themes of comradeship, morality and courage, while his pairing of charismatic male leads like Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart with strong women such as Katharine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall make for some of the most entertaining movies of the classical era.

The series kicks off on September 15 with “Twentieth Century” (1934). Hawks’ definitive screwball comedy about a Broadway producer (John Barrymore) who tries to coax a starlet (Carole Lombard) back from Hollywood features a script by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur adapted from their Broadway play.

Next on September 16 is prison drama “The Criminal Code” (1931), featuring Walter Huston as a district attorney-turned-prison warden who comes face to face with criminals he put away.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall star in their legendary first film together, “To Have and Have Not” (1944), on September 17. Set in wartime Martinique and adapted by William Faulkner and Jules Furthman from an Ernest Hemingway novel, the film focuses on the owner of a charter boat (Bogart). He reluctantly becomes involved in a plan to smuggle a Resistance leader out of the country while falling for an American ex-pat (Bacall, in her screen debut).

“Bringing Up Baby” (1938), screening on September 18, features Cary Grant as a paleontologist opposite Katharine Hepburn’s heiress, the owner of a pet leopard used to try and snag the academic with hilarious results.

Paul Muni stars as Chicago mobster Tony Camonte on September 19 in 1932’s influential “Scarface,” scripted by Ben Hecht and loosely based on the life of Al Capone, who was nicknamed “Scarface.” The film was completed in 1930 prior to key gangster pictures “Little Caesar” (Mervyn LeRoy, 1930) and “Public Enemy” (William Wellman, 1931), but it was not released until producer Howard Hughes had cut some of the violence, re-shot and added scenes, and re-titled the film “Scarface: Shame of the Nation” in order to satisfy censors at the Hays Office.

In Hawks’ “His Girl Friday” (1942) — a remake of “The Front Page” (Lewis Milestone, 1931) — Cary Grant’s newspaper editor orchestrates outrageous plans to prevent his star reporter/ex-wife from marrying an insurance salesman and leaving the job. The film, written by Charles Lederer and based on a play by Hecht and MacArthur, screens on September 20.

Another memorable Hawks’ screwball comedy follows on September 21: “Ball of Fire” (1947). Gary Cooper stars as a professor who hides Barbara Stanwyck’s nightclub singer on the lam from her gangster fiancé in the house shared by his linguist colleagues.

A special double bill on September 23 allows ticket holders to see two rare Hawks films from the 30s for the price of one. Featuring a script by William Faulkner, Hawks, and others, “The Road to Glory” (1936) stars Frederic March and Lionel Barrymore as army officers in WWI. The film is followed by “Tiger Shark” (1932) which features Edward G. Robinson as an immigrant fisherman involved in a love triangle when his wife leaves him for the friend whose life he saved.

“A Song Is Born” (1948) is next on September 24, “I Was a Male War Bride” (1949), screening September 25; “Only Angels Have Wings” on September 26; “The Big Sleep” (1946) follows on September 27, “Monkey Business” (1952) is on September 28, “The Big Sky” (1952) is next on September 29 and the series concludes on September 30 with Hawks’ biopic “Sergeant York” (1941).

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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