Twentieth Century


Howard Hawks and the cast of Twentieth Century (1934).  It was Howard’s 17th film, and second at Columbia Pictures, after The Criminal Code.

Today We Live

Howard Hawks directing Franchot Tone, and under the cot, Joan Crawford and Robert Young, in Today We Live.  The film premiered Mar 3, 1933, and was Hawks’ 14th credit as a director.

The back of this foreign publicity still for Today We Live (1933) reads

Joan Crawford, Robert Young y Franchot Tone, filmando cierta escena de una pelicula de la Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  Junto a la camera el director Howard Hawks observa atenatmonte.


Howard Hawks early career

Todd McCarthy wrote In The Grey Fox of Hollywood that “although Hawks never verified it for certain, all the circumstantial evidence points to In Again, Out Again, which was a sensation when it was released in April 1917, as the first picture on which Howard Hawks worked.”

“It would also seem that director of photography Victor Fleming, as the one person Hawks definitively knew in the film business at that point, was very likely responsible for bringing him in.”

Hawks quickly designed a modern set for the film when the official art director was away.  With his engineering background Hawks either volunteered or was recommended to first time producer Douglas Fairbanks by Fleming.  Fairbanks liked Hawks’ work which lead to further employment in Hollywood.

Howard Hawks’ early career

as the ad states, In Again, Out Again premiered Apr 30, 1917.

Howard Hawks

screencap from the original trailer for Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Howard Hawks’ career in film did not begin with his seven silent films at Twentieth Century Fox, 1926-28.  Hawks worked on 34 or more features from 1917, at the age of 20, to 1926.  His first involvement with Hollywood came when he designed a modern set for a Douglas Fairbanks production.  Then he was a prop man on a couple of Mary Pickford pictures.  In 1920 he became part of an independent production company, Associated Producers, Inc. that produced 14 features from 1920 to 1923.  As a rich kid, he provided financial assistance for the company, with no apparent artistic contribution.   From 1923 to 1926 Hawks free lanced as producer/editor on a few films at the big Hollywood studios, as well as earning original story credits for a couple of features.  While he never directed a film in his first 10 years in Hollywood, and none of his early credits are remembered today, he learned enough to keep him on top of his game for the next 40 years.

Barbary Coast

Miriam Hopkins and Edward G Robinson in a screencap from Barbary Coast (1935), one of Howard Hawks’ better films of the 30s, thanks to a first rate Ben Hecht script, top notch acting, and rich production values….And it’s not even in Hawks’ Top 10 best films.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Howard Hawks and Marilyn Monroe on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).  Howard said Marilyn wasn’t as difficult as she later became after the film made her an enduring superstar.  Howard’s quote was perhaps directed at Billy Wilder, who worked with Marilyn twice after she became a superstar.

Howard Hawks

thumbnails of 16 Spanish posters for Howard Hawks films, from Today We Live (1933) to Red Line 7000 (1965)

The Road to Glory

Howard Hawks in the director’s chair on the set of The Road to Glory (1936) with Warner Baxter, June Lang and an unnamed woman.

Howard Hawks

Howard Hawks on a motorcycle.  Hawks had many interests outside of film making.

Ball of Fire

Howard Hawks directing Barbara Stanwyck on the set of Ball of Fire (1942).

Ball of Fire

Producer Samuel Goldwyn visits Howard Hawks and Barbara Stanwyck on the set of Ball of Fire (1942).  One can tell that Howard does not enjoy having producers on his set while he’s at work.  Most of Howard’s films were produced by Hawks himself.

Howard Hawks

Howard Hawks at a screening of Hearts in Exile (1929), directed by Michael Curtiz at Warner Brothers, where Hawks would make many of his most popular films.  None of the other men are recognizable.  It is likely one of the men is Curtiz.  In 1929, Hawks had yet to make a sound film, but still he was front and center by himself.

The Road to Glory

Howard Hawks in the director’s chair on the set of The Road to Glory (1936) with Warner Baxter, June Lang, and an unknown woman.

Ball of Fire

Howard Hawks on the set of Ball of Fire (1942) with Richard Haydn, Aubrey Mather, Tully Marshall and Leonid Kinsky