It's a treat to write something about a new Howard Hawks discovery. Hawks has long been one of my favorite directors. I could easily count Rio Bravo, His Girl Friday, and Sergeant York among my "desert island group". And I'm also quite fond of at least another five to ten of his films that I have seen: Rio Lobo, El Dorado, Red Line 7000, Man's Favorite Sport?, Hatari!, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, I Was a War Male Bride, Red River, The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, Bringing Up Baby, Barbary Coast, and Scarface (okay maybe it's a little more than five or ten).
Some of his earlier work is actually quite hard to locate. But I'll have to keep looking. There's at least another ten of his films that people talk about that I've never had the opportunity to see.
This film, Come and Get It, is an interesting one. First off, it marks a collaboration with another directorial giant from the time, William Wyler. IMDb says that Wyler directed 70 films in his career. (Ah, what a glorious time the golden age was when a director could have that level of output.) There's much of Wyler I've yet to see, but I absolutely love Roman Holiday, The Heiress, and The Best Years of Our Lives.
And Come and Get It is no exception. The film has Hawks' ability to distill and refine. Watching a Hawks' film for me is like when someone says about a great chef that his/her dish taste clean. His work always feels uncluttered to me without being overly simplistic.
But Hawks, also, has always felt like an optimist to me. It seemed like he never really wanted to leave the audience with a bitter taste in their mouth. Wyler, meanwhile, seems much more willing to go to that place. The end of The Heiress, for instance, I find to be one of the most disturbing finales of that entire period. And Come and Get It ends on a note that is every bit as ambiguous, unresolved, and uncomfortable.
Needless to say, since we have two of the most accomplished directors of the period working on the film, the performances are sublime: Edward Arnold, Joel McCrea, and Walter Brennan are all tremendous. And Frances Farmer is magical.
The film might have a little too much music and an extremely basic directorial approach, but I also think it gets at some themes and emotions that most work can only hope to achieve. Chalk up another one for Hawks and Wyler, Come and Get It is a real keeper.
*I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that, about a year ago, the excellent blog, Only The Cinema, conducted an "Early Howard Hawks Blog-A-Thon" (http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2009/01/early-howard-hawks-blog-thon.html). I encourage a look if you want to read more about this period in Hawks' career or Hawks, in general.
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