Quick Takes

One of ‘100 greatest film books’ was published by University Press of Kentucky

By: - October 3, 2023 10:18 am

Part of the cover of “Hawks on Hawks,” published by the University Press of Kentucky. (UK photo)

A book published by the University of Press of Kentucky has made a list of the 100 greatest books about film

“Hawks on Hawks,” comprising author Joseph McBride’s interviews with director Howard Hawks by Joseph McBride, will appear on The Hollywood Reporter’s list of “The 100 Greatest Film Books” and will be celebrated in The Hollywood Reporter magazine and on its website on Oct. 11, according to a news release from the University of Kentucky.

The University Press of Kentucky is a statewide nonprofit publisher of scholarly works, serving Kentucky’s public and seven private colleges or universities and two major historical societies. The press says it is dedicated to the publication of academic books of high scholarly merit as well as significant books about the history and culture of Kentucky, the Ohio Valley, Upper South and Appalachia.

The UK release says the list of “The 100 Greatest Film Books” was chosen by a “blue-ribbon panel” including filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Ava DuVernay, film executives Sherry Lansing and David Zaslav, film book authors Leonard Maltin and Molly Haskell, and cultural tastemakers Maureen Dowd and Roxane Gay.

McBride is the author of 24 books, including the biography “Searching for John Ford” (hailed as “definitive” by The New York Times and the Irish Times), biographies of Frank Capra and Spielberg, three books on Orson Welles, and critical studies of Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder. A former film and television writer as well as a reporter, reviewer and columnist for Daily Variety in Hollywood, McBride is a professor in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University.

The UK release says: “Hawks on Hawks” draws on interviews that McBride conducted with Hawks (1896-1977) over seven years, giving rare insight into Hawks’s artistic philosophy, his relationships with the stars and his position in an industry that was rapidly changing. Hawks is often credited as being the most versatile of all of the great American directors, having worked with equal ease in screwball comedies, westerns, gangster movies, musicals and adventure films. He directed an impressive number of Hollywood’s greatest stars — including Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Rosalind Russell and Marilyn Monroe — and some of his most celebrated films include “Scarface” (1932), “Bringing Up Baby” (1938), “The Big Sleep” (1946), “Red River” (1948), “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953) and “Rio Bravo” (1959).

“Hawks on Hawks,” which has been published in French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Finnish and in England by Faber and Faber, was also chosen by The Book Collectors of Los Angeles as one of the “100 Best Books on Hollywood and the Movies.” The French director François Truffaut, whose interview book with Alfred Hitchcock is a landmark in film studies, said, “I read ‘Hawks on Hawks’ with passion. I am very happy that this book exists.” In its new edition, this classic book is both an account of the film legend’s life and work and a guidebook on how to make movies.

“Howard Hawks was one of the great storytellers on film,” McBride said. “I sought him out because I wanted his advice on how to write screenplays. I continued talking with him in his home or in public venues for the rest of his life. He was a marvelous raconteur and a wise and witty man who taught me much about film. Toward the end of our time together, I realized I had the makings of an interview book. I am pleased that so many people have found it valuable and entertaining.”

The Hollywood Reporter and AFI FEST will collaborate on a celebration of the authors of books on the list, which will be held during AFI FEST  Oct. 28, at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood.

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