Sunday, May 29, 2011

Both Sides Now

“Hawks' films have shown a remarkable consistency (which is also a tedious monotony) throughout his long career, with the paradoxical result that though his films are full of American cliché they are also identifiable as the work of an auteur. He has all the insidious convenience of typicality; his individuality is in his flawless typicality. In his perfection, there is, undoubtedly, an authentic sophistication – if that implies that he has made decisions about the importance of human moods and meanings. Yet, if sophistication means humanity, variety and subtlety, then his films are generally simpler and more facile than their nearest comparisons. Thus his Scarface is simpler than Wellman's Public Enemy, his A Girl in Every Port is a sardonic counterpoint to Tay Garnett's Her Man, his 'satires' are innocuous compared to Wellman's A Star Is Born, his Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is eclipsed by Wilder's Some Like It Hot. But if 'sophistication' means a sardonic attitude to humanity, a deadpan humour which, under the pretext of toughly controlling emotion, also all but denies it, then the very limitations of his films enable these tensions to emerge more sharply.” (Durgnat, Films & Feelings, p. 82)

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