Sunday, April 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Why is Hollywood so fascinated with Howard Hughes?

Why is Hollywood perennially fascinated with Howard Hughes, the figure known for his fast planes, faster women and sudden mood drops?

Why is Hollywood so fascinated with Howard Hughes?

Why is Hollywood perennially fascinated with Howard Hughes, the figure known for his fast planes, faster women and sudden mood drops?

The subject of Max Ophuls' Caught, Jonathan Demme's Melvin and Howard, Martin Scorsese's The Aviator and the forthcoming Warren Beatty project was an aviator, oil tycoon, engineer, industrialist, moviemaker and playboy millionaire.who died at 70 in 1976, a codeine-addicted hermit with Fu Manchu fingernails and a net worth of about a billion bucks. Hughes is so popular a subject because the guy contained multitudes.

Ophuls' fictionalized portrait, with Robert Ryan as the subject, painted a picture of an insecure tyrant who bought friends and wives and treated them as slaves. Demme's larky story with a grizzled Jason Robards as the late-life Hughes framed the billionaire as an eccentric fairy godfather to Everyman Melvin Dummar. Scorsese's epic about the young Hughes conjured him as a modern-day Icarus who flew high on wings of wax and crashed because of his numerous phobias, including OCD. Presumably Beatty's version, which the actor/filmmaker/ladies' man has been working on for nearly 40 years, will highlight Hughes' numerous conquests, which include Jean Harlow, Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn -- among others.

Your favorite Hughes movie? Why are filmmakers so obsessed with him?

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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