Arts & Culture

University Press of Kentucky book featured on '100 Greatest Film Books' list

Picture of cover of 'Hawks on Hawks'
Courtesy University Press of Kentucky.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 3, 2023)  "Hawks on Hawks," a book of interviews with Howard Hawks by Joseph McBride, has been selected by The Hollywood Reporter for inclusion on its list of “The 100 Greatest Film Books” and will be celebrated in The Hollywood Reporter magazine and on its website on Oct. 11.

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.

"Hawks on Hawks" (University Press of Kentucky) draws on interviews that Joseph McBride conducted with director Howard Hawks (1896-1977) over the course of 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 Saturday, Oct. 28, at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood.

Joseph 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.

University Press of Kentucky

The University Press of Kentucky is the statewide nonprofit scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Serving all Kentucky state-sponsored institutions of higher learning as well as seven private colleges and Kentucky’s two major historical societies, it was organized in 1969 as successor to the University of Kentucky Press. The press 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 region, the Upper South and Appalachia.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.