HOWARD HAWKS

THE GREY FOX OF HOLLYWOOD

A pleasingly thorough, if not critically groundbreaking, retrospective of the works and life of Hollywood's most versatile (and, to some cineasts, best) director. Hawks was born into a successful midwestern mercantile family. Detailing the level and range of their business successes, film critic McCarthy (King of the B's, 1975) suggests how the confidence bred in Hawks by his family's position strengthened his determination when he came to Hollywood: He wanted to work in a number of different genres, and he wanted to remain independent of the big studios. Despite the odds, he did. McCarthy focuses with great and admirable detail on Hawks's films. His life was rowdy and colorful (he was a womanizer and a gambler), and McCarthy communicates the essentials without ever losing focus on the director's artistry. Especially fascinating is the chapter on Red River, a blend of the requisite quotes on the previously untapped acting ability of John Wayne (e.g., Ford's ``I didn't know the sonofabitch could act!''), tales of sparring between Wayne and costar Montgomery Clift and Hawks's dissatisfaction with Joanne Dru, a concise analysis of the movie's importance to Hawks's artistic freedom, and not too much about the film's already much- discussed homoerotic intonations. Highlights from other chapters include fresh discussions of overlapping dialogue in the romantic comedies, recaps of the sometimes surprising public response to his films (too-cynical Twentieth Century was a box office dud), and end-of-chapter roundups of critical views of each film, notable for including not only reviews of the time but the opinions of film historians like Jeanine Basinger and little-known critics like Jean-Pierre Coursodon. Though the most enjoyable book on Hawks remains Joseph McBride's Hawks on Hawks, this is an essential complement to it and to studies by Wood, Wollen, and others. It portrays in wide-screen format a life until now presented only in sketches. (16 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8021-1598-5

Page Count: 721

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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