Howard Hawks’ early career

Jack Holt and Norma Shearer in Empty Hands (1924).  There is no plot synopsis in the imdb or wikipedia, but normashearer.com says that Jack and Norma are father and daughter.  Jack is only 14 years older than Norma.

Howard Hawks’ early career

cast and crew on location in Lake Arrowhead for Empty Hands (1924)

Howard Hawks’ early career

Jack Holt and Norma Shearer behind the scenes of Empty Hands (1924).  The review in the New York Times said that Norma’s “ankles are by no means ungainly.”

Howard Hawks’ early career

Jack Holt and Norma Shearer in Empty Hands (1924).  According to the imdb, Howard Hawks earned an editor credit for the film, as well as being production editor.  There is no mention in his biography, The Grey Fox of Hollywood, that he ever edited a film.

Howard Hawks’ early career

Empty Hands (1924) is the first of four films supervised by Howard Hawks and directed by Victor Fleming.  Victor was born in Southern California and had 48 directing credits in his career, from 1919 to 1948.  His films among the best 1,001 are The Virginian (1929 with Gary Cooper), The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind.

Howard Hawks’ early career

Norma Shearer, in her big break, and Jack Holt in a scene from Empty Hands (1924).  Norma was born in Montreal and had 65 acting credits ,mostly in silent films, from an uncredited bit in a 1919 short, through 1942.  At the age of 18, Norma won a beauty contest and her mother took her and her sister Athole (who would be Howard Hawks’ first wife in 1928), to New York to seek fame and fortune.

She was a major star by the dawn of the sound era.  Norma was a best actress winner in 1930 for The Divorcee, and had six total nominations 1930-1939.  Her other notable films include A Free Soul. The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Romeo and Juliet, Marie Antoinette, and The Women.

 

Howard Hawks’ early career

Norma Shearer gets her hair washed on location in Lake Arrowhead with Jack Holt for Empty Hands (1924).  The man with his hands on Norma’s head is presumably director Victor Fleming.

“Miss Shearer’s eyes are really beautiful, and, as her hair is not curled according to movie fashion, she is quite pleasing in this film. She seems to be a good swimmer when in the water and is evidently conscious that her ankles are by no means ungainly. Her eyebrows deserve at least two words of praise.”
– Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times, August 18, 1924

 

Howard Hawks’ early career

Jack Holt and Norma Shearer on location in Lake Arrowhead in a scene from Empty Hands (1924).  The film is now lost, with no surviving clips, so we cannot judge how Lake Arrowhead is presented.

 

 

Howard Hawks’ early career

Howard Hawks took credit for signing Norma Shearer for Empty Hands (1924) despite objections from studio boss Jesse Lasky who found her unattractive.  After seeing the finished product Jesse wanted her to sign a long term contract but she’d already moved on to MGM where she stayed through the 30s.  Howard married Norma’s sister Athole in 1928, divorcing her in 1940.

Howard Hawks’ early career

Jack Holt and Norma Shearer in a publicity still for Empty Hands (1924).  Jack was born in New York City and had 191 acting credits in his career, from an uncredited bit in 1914, through 1951, mostly in low budget westerns.  His entry among the best 1,001 is They Were Expendable by John Ford.

Howard Hawks’ early career

a barefoot Norma Shearer with Jack Holt in a publicity still for Empty Hands (1924).  The story concerns a father who takes his precocious daughter away from her friends, and loses her to the wilderness.

Howard Hawks’ early career

Norma Shearer and Gertrude Olmstead in Empty Hands (1924).