Henry Hathaway

“One of the most professional of Hollywood journeyman directors, making films for more than 40 years, most of them for Paramount and Twentieth Century-Fox, the majority of them good (apart from a little clutch in the late 1950s), and some superbly entertaining… His films themselves are testimony to his ability to heighten narrative tension and shoot action so exhilarating it made the adrenaline run.” - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Film Directors, 1999)

Henry Hathaway

Director
(1898-1985) Born March 13, Sacramento, California, USA

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Drama, Western, Action, Adventure, Thriller, Romance, Adventure Drama, Crime, Mystery, Film Noir, Spy Film, Psychological Thriller
Key Collaborators: Lyle Wheeler (Production Designer), Lucien Ballard (Cinematographer), Alfred Newman (Composer), Gary Cooper (Leading Actor), Joseph MacDonald (Cinematographer), David Buttolph (Composer), Hans Dreier (Production Designer), Maurice Ransford (Production Designer), John Wayne (Leading Actor), Hal B. Wallis (Producer), Charles Lang (Cinematographer), Norbert Brodine (Cinematographer)

"Durability cannot conceal great oscillations in his work. And professionalism and the legend of his colorful temper should not excuse frequent dullness. Because a man has directed for so long does not ensure that his character has matured. Close study of Hathaway reveals, at best, an amiable enthusiasm for adventure, but at worst, the considerable endurance test, of say, the overrated Call Northside 777." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2002)
"They don't make them like Hathaway anymore, especially in the lengths of their careers... Perhaps it was because he was so resolutely anti-intellectual that he lasted so long, for he was certainly not unintelligent, as he showed with the very strange, heady, and really rather fantastical Peter Ibbetson (1935)." - Mario Reading (The Movie Companion, 2006)
"Henry Hathaway is a director without complexes or neuroses even when his material is saturated with these modern accoutrements... Hathaway's charm consists chiefly of minor virtues, particularly a sense of humor, uncorrupted by major pretensions, but this charm is also a limiting factor." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)
"Although Hathaway is not the master of theme as are fellow action directors, Ford, Wellman, and Hawks, the director's career nonetheless brilliantly reflects Hollywood trends. His work can be broken up into five stages: (1) The solidarity of men in action (The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, 35); (2) Patriotism (The House on 92nd Street, 45); (3) Complex psychology (Call Northside 777, 48), (4) Personal quests (From Hell to Texas, 58); (5) Reflective aging protagonists (True Grit, 69)." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
“In the 1960s, Hathaway was the studios’ action director of choice. He directed three-fifths of the super-Western How the West Was Won (1962), and was chosen by John Wayne to helm his vanity horse opera True Grit (1969). But Hathaway waded through a lot of chaff in the course of his career and close inspection of his oeuvre suggests fewer director’s choices than miracles of collaboration.” - Tom Charity (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
“The director of a handful of memorable films, among numerous mediocre ones, during a prolific 40-year career. Though some have mistaken this artisan for an artist, he has failed to live up to the promise of two hight points in his career: the first in the mid-Thirties with the enormous commercial success of Lives of a Bengal Lancer and the remarkable Peter Ibbotson; and the second in the postwar years, when, under Louis de Rochemont’s tutelage, he contributed to the introduction of documentary realism into the thriller with The House on 92nd Street, 13 Rue Madeleine, Call Northside 777, and Kiss of Death.” - Georges Sadoul (Dictionary of Film Makers, 1972)
“Beginning with a series of low-budget Westerns starring Randolph Scott, he was an established director of prestige pictures by 1936. At first with Paramount and later with Fox, he gained the reputation of being a skilled craftsman who handled his material straightforwardly with few complications or pretensions. He was known as a studio workhorse who made the most of his assignments, and was within budget and on schedule… He worked proficiently in a variety of genres, but was at his best with action footage, particularly Westerns and crime dramas. Occasionally, also his own producer, Hathaway was the consummate Hollywood professional.” - The Film Encyclopedia, 2012
“Though he lacks the reputation of his contemporaries Ford and Hawks, Hathaway spent more than 40 years turning out quality Westerns and thrillers, many of which have attained classic status.” - Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia, 1995
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Kiss of Death (1947) ✖︎, Call Northside 777 (1948) ✖︎, Niagara (1953) ✖︎
Recommended
Peter Ibbetson (1935), Shepherd of the Hills (1941), The Dark Corner (1946) ✖︎
Worth a Look
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936), Johnny Apollo (1940), The House on 92nd Street (1945) ✖︎, 13 Rue Madeleine (1946), Fourteen Hours (1951) ✖︎, Diplomatic Courier (1952), O. Henry's Full House (1952) [also directed by Jean Negulesco, Henry Koster, Henry King & Howard Hawks], Prince Valiant (1954), From Hell to Texas (1958), How the West Was Won (1962) [co-directed by John Ford & George Marshall], The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), Nevada Smith (1966), True Grit (1969)
Approach with Caution
The Real Glory (1939), Nob Hill (1945), Garden of Evil (1954), 23 Paces to Baker Street (1956), The Bottom of the Bottle (1956), Five Card Stud (1968)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films
Henry Hathaway / Favourite Films
The Birth of a Nation (1915) D.W. Griffith, Broken Blossoms (1919) D.W. Griffith, Gone with the Wind (1939) Victor Fleming, Great Expectations (1946) David Lean, The Last Moment (1928) Pál Fejös, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935) Henry Hathaway, The Red Shoes (1948) Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, Seventh Heaven (1927) Frank Borzage, The Way of All Flesh (1927) Victor Fleming, Wilson (1944) Henry King.
Source: Cinematheque Belgique (1952)
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    Niagara
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