28 October 2012

Katharine Hepburn, flying Howard's plane, "Howard, there's a rather alarming mountain heading our way."

(l to r) Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio), Hughes Press Agent Johnny Meyer (Adam Scott),
Errol Flynn (Jude Law) and Kathrarine Hepburn (Kate Blachett) 
at Hollywood's Coconut Grove circa 1927
Martin Scorsese's The Aviator (2004) is a real triumph from many perspectives, but Kate Blanchett's superb portrayal of Katharine Hepburn alone makes this a "must see" film for fans of early Hollywood.

Primarily, The Aviator is the story of the sides of Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) we should know, and by and large, don't. Hughes started out as the renegade heir to the tool bit fortune behind the oil drill bit that revolutionized production in the Texas Boom era. Hughes takes his whiz kid business talent, considerable capital and fearless hubris to California, combining one passion, aviation, with a very expensive hobby, making films.

Hughes and Chief Lieutenant Noah Dietrich (John C. Reilly)

As aviation innovator, he helped steer the course of modern aviation. In making the films Hell's Angels (1930) (his aerial war epic), Scarface (1932) (his classic gangster film) and The Outlaw (1943) (his guilty pleasure effort), Hughes showed Hollywood and the Breen Office that he wouldn't be intimidated.

Though not understood at the time, all Hughes' manic bluster -- thrown primarily at commercial aviation, with plenty left for Hollywood and his splashy love life -- would ultimately cost the mogul his sanity. As he became more accomplished -- and challenged -- a combination of obsessive compulsive disorder with paranoiac fear of disease crippled Hughes' interpersonal and home life.

The hand of director Scorsese is easy to see in the attention to detail and quality of the production. Take this montage of flying sequences from the film set to a great piece of music,

Between the Roaring Twenties and the post-war 40s, Hughes helped shaped the direction and look of modern aviation. And the story well told makes one hell of a ride on film.

Kathrarine Hepburn (Kate Blachett)

Hughes defending himself before a Senate committee accusing him of being a war profiteer

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