Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Faulkner and Hawks

"I've always gotten a goofy kick out of Howard Hawks' Land of the Pharoahs (1955), which has an upcoming 6.26 DVD release. One reason is that a presumably half-drunk William Faulkner helped write the script. I don't know of any eyewitness accounts of Faulkner's behavior during this period, but if you were Faulkner wouldn't you booze it up if you were stuck writing an ancient Egyptian costume flick?

"Here are four more reasons: (1) those slinky bikini-harem costumes worn by costar Joan Collins (only 21 at the time of filming, and allegedly referred to in mid '50s industry circles as "the British Open"), and the way Jack Hawkins, as the Pharoah Khufu, tears off her covering veil in an early scene, (2) Dimitri Tiomkin's grandiose, slam-bang musical score, (3) Hawkins' tough-guy performance as an arrogant man of action, and (4) the finale that has a crying, screaming Collins ("I don't want to die!") realizing she's been tricked into being buried alive inside Khufu's pyramid."

Jeffery Wells--Hollywood Elsewhere copyright 2007

Ed here: Over the years I've probably run into twenty or so stories about Faulker in Hollywood, most of them involving him getting loaded and sneaking on to a train and heading back to Mississippi while he was supposed to be turning in four pages of script a day. Nobody hated Faulkner more than the execs who were paying his freight. He was desperately in need of the money but couldn't take the work seriously. Not take "Land of The Pharoahs" seriously?

One of the great Hawks-Faulkner tales involved Hawks introduced Faulker to Clark Gable not exactly a brainiac. Gable was polite and said, "And what do you do, Mr. Faulker?" And Faulkner said (alledgedly), "I write books, Mr. Gable. And what do you do?"


pattinase (abbott) said...

There's a book called simething like Faulkner in Hollywood with lots of good stories. His house in Oxford is fun to see. Grand and yet not so grand. I guess that's him.

Anonymous said...

Still, I'd rather watch anything by Howard Hawks, even when he's off his game, than any of today's self-important indie movies about the travails of poor little 20-somethings.