Maggie’s a Hawksian Woman

One of the surest cures for the winter blues is to settle down, pour yourself a drink and slip a screwball comedy into your DVD player. These are films that, by definition, are designed to brighten your day. Watching Bringing up Baby, His Girl Friday and Monkey Business recently, I’ve come to realise that if you want to see a good part for a woman, you’re better off with a random Howard Hawks movie than any current chick flick.
hatariWhile he often used women to appease and sexualise the tough guys in films such as Red River, Scarface and Hatari!, they were the dominant force in his screwball comedies. Hawks liked to cast some of Hollywood’s most unusual and attractive ladies in the role of the Hawksian Woman; Katherine Hepburn was a Hawksian Woman and so was Carole Lombard in Twentieth Century.
hoagie-serenades-laurenThough few modern films qualify as out-and-out screwball, some memorable ones are kindred spirits. As Pfeiffer’s haughty, harassed Melanie Parker flits from phone call to phone call in One Fine Day, she recalls His Girl Friday’s Rosalind Russell and the greatest Hawksian woman of all Lauren Bacall.hawksian-ancestorMichelle begets the line of Hawksian leading ladies– a true screwball heroine. Meg Ryan was nothing less in Addicted to Love. A venomous Hawksian hustler, streetwise photographer Maggie is a “marvellous girl, crazy as a bedbug.” Watching her is akin to laughing so hard champagne shoots out of your nose.
hot-dog-maggieIt makes you wonder what kind of career Ryan might have had if she’d been around in the 1930s. With her supernatural flair for this kind of comedy would she have riffed through the Richter scale with Cary Grant and Clark Gable? Vied with Hepburn and Lombard for box-office supremacy? It’s just a thought – and one that brings me a little joy in a world that is all too serious.


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A Dozen Thoughts I had While Watching Addicted to Love and One Fine Day on Groundhog Day…

Why am I doing this? Watching Addicted to Love from the ungodly hour of midnight till 1:33 AM. Is it because Meg Ryan looks (really) fine in a feather boa. Is it because when it starts I’m instantly in a good mood. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because Addicted to Love is a film full of little surprises, but they’re not quite where they should be.
radio-rowMaggie and Sam shop for electronic surveillance devices on “Radio Row”in Manhattan. As an electronic engineering student in the 90s, this would have been my idea of heaven. A place where you could plunge a sugar scoop into the barrel and scoop out a couple of pounds of resistors onto the scale. “And could I have a pound of field effect transistors with that?”charming-megThis movie has an interesting, humorous view of romantic obsession. It is a good romantic comedy, but it is mostly a vehicle for Meg Ryan, who wears a different outfit in every scene as she flirts with the camera quite shamelessly.
linda-and-maggieMeg and Kelly Preston never share a scene. Why? Does Maggie has a clause in her contract that no other blonde will appear in the frame while she (the party of the first part) is on screen. Side note: Maggie’s Cupid’s bow was scrumptious!
huge-eyesFunniest line: The jiltors have been making love very loudly while Ryan and Broderick (the jiltees) listen in from their hide-out across the street. Ryan is seething with rage, but Broderick is in denial and cries, “Listen Catwoman, at the end of day, she’s coming back to me!” Ryan glares at him and says, “Let me tell you something, Sam. The only way that girl is coming back to you is if a blast of semen catapults her across the street and through the window and.” Now, that I would have paid good money to see.Meg's Best Work?Addicted to Love was meant to be a minor film for Meg Ryan, released during that genius stretch from When Harry Met Sally… to You’ve Got M@il. Yet it holds more ideas and laughs than a summer’s worth of movies put together. is-that-scarlettMeg Ryan was the first movie star I ever saw who made me realise I was more connected to the cinema than anyone I knew. Maggie, felt like a soulmate. I’d find myself daydreaming about her to the point where I’d completely forget whatever it was I was doing. I’d wish I could bump into her on the street and talk to her (or, in my case, more likely run away in fright).Chemistry is everything. For a perfect example of this take a look at Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant in Two Weeks Notice – no chemistry at all. For another example, watch George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer in One Fine Day, the chemistry is incredible; especially when they finally kiss.Until this point Michelle has seemed prim and proper, but when she kisses George, kisses him as if he’s some incredibly wonderful flavour of gelato she’s never tasted before, she’s Pfeiffercalifragilisticexpialodocious!Yet, despite the maximisation of kissability on display in the Clooney & Pfeiffer pfest; or maybe because of it, the gorgeous lippage of Meg Ryan’s catburgling avenger continued to haunt my mind.It is a good thing that DVDs don’t wear out like VHS tapes, so I can enjoy the genetic perfection of Pfeiffer and Ryan again and again. Both of these über-luscious stars could pucker to perfection. Having experienced the fullness, the saying “never too much of a good thing” applies; also, the whole concept reminds me of Cinema Paradiso which has one of the greatest movie endings ever!
credits-roll-again-and-again-2The Credits Roll. Wait. Meg, Michelle, Spiderman and The Hulk were all in this? Maggie had top billing? I imagine this was my subconscious pining, understandable when I’m drunk on Havana Club rum and sleep deprivation.10-thoughts-headerFinal Word? One Fine Day: C, Michelle: B-, Addicted to Love: B+, Meg Ryan: A


Filed under Retrospective