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HOWARD HAWKS: AMERICAN ARTIST

USA, 1997 (MIFF 1997, Documentaries)

Director: Kevin MacDonald

Westerns, screw-ball comedies, film noir, detective thrillers, gangster flicks, even musicals - Howard Hawks, hailed as the quintes­sential auteur, tackled every possible film genre with equal facility. His was amongst the most enduring, accomplished and versatile directorial careers. Yet in comparison with such contempo­raries as Hitchcock and Ford, whose reputations became synonymous with their respective gen­res, his name was seldom heard outside a circle of fanatical admirers. Documentary maker Kevin McDonald has finally set this anomaly to rights.

Howard Hawks: American Artist weaves together previously unseen home movies and out-takes, as well as interviews with the likes of James Caan, Angie Dickinson and Lauren Bacall. Direc­tors Michael Mann, Walter Hill, Peter Bogdanovich and sundry associates reminisce fondly about the great man. Film clips and archival footage of Hawks himself round out the biographical mix; Hawks comes across as warm and engaging, if a little less complex and inscrutable than before. McDonald's film is an overdue tribute to a man widely considered to be the most independent and consistent artist of the American cinema.

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