Tag Archives: Howard Hawks

Another Twelve Days of Maggie, Melanie and Mistletoe

Christmas is a time for the familiar. For turkey and Criterion Collection films as presents. It’s also a time for reflection and seasonal viewings of When Harry Met Sally… and One Fine Day. Two films I’ve watched over and over and over again.With some movies, repeat viewings actually increase my joy and appreciation. One Fine Day has become more like an old friend than a film, a familiar place to visit, always enjoying the company and the frazzled charm of its characters.The film was over half a century late to the screwball comedy party; and it was certainly too late to be a commercially successful one, as the dismal box office take at the time proved. Apparently, the end of World War Two spelled the end of screwball comedies and the disappearance of the Hawksian woman.From film to film, Hawks’s heroine may have changed her name, to suit her high-stakes game, but she’s always a ball of fire. Women were always better looking in Howard Hawks’ movies. He had a great eye for what’s timeless in beauty. Hawks’ girls have never gone out of style, not even for a moment.Michelle’s Melanie Parker recalls Lauren Bacall in her Hawksian hauteur, but the texture and style of her performance was all her own. Feminine and tough, glamorous and practical, just imagine her opposite Bogart or Cary Grant.Meg Ryan would also have fitted wonderfully well into Hollywood’s classic era with her sense of fun and camaraderie. The Ava Gardner to Pfeiffer’s Grace Kelly? It is easy to imagine Rio Bravo with Maggie in the role of Feathers, the free-spirited gambler who reduces John Wayne’s lawman to a gibbering idiot.If they’d been co-stars in a Ford or Hawks western Michelle would have been the saloon singer, fighting off ten men using only her wits, while Meg would roll her eyes, cut the cards and gulp down whiskey. Don’t lie, you can picture them too.I’ll no doubt spend Christmas Eve dreaming of 12 days of Maggie, Melanie and mistletoe. And, if by December 27, I feel like I’ve overdosed on the spirit of screwball, Billy Wilder and The Apartment will provide just the right amount of cynicism to prepare me for the horrors of Hogmanay… I’ll see you next year!

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