Leonora is consoled by Dr Quinada

Revenge would be a better title but Caught it is, director Max Ophüls’s broadside against Howard Hughes, who’d fired him from Vendetta only days into shooting a film that was meant to launch the career of Faith Domergue, a Hughes “discovery” (booty division). Vendetta ended up with five directors’ names attached to it so clearly the launch needed more grease on the slipway than anticipated. Hughes’s treatment of women, it turns out, is what Caught is all about, a reworking of the Libbie Block novel Wild Calendar also incorporating the stories Ophüls and screenwriter Arthur Laurents had heard about the infamously philandering studio boss. Naive and nice young thing Leonora (Barbara Bel Geddes) … Read more

Hell’s Angels

Planes dogfighting in the sky

Howard Hughes had almost finished his action-packed, stunt-driven epic Hell’s Angels, at vast expense, in 1928 when silent movies were suddenly made obsolete by the vast success of The Jazz Singer. So he did what any mega-rich tycoon who just happened to own a film studio would do – he remade it. Out went his female star in the process. Greta Nissen was Norwegian and had a heavy accent, and so she became one of the first casualties of the talkies, which destroyed many an established career (which is what the plot of Singin’ in the Rain is all about, after all). In came unknown 18-year-old Jean Harlow to fill the gap, while … Read more

The Aviator

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner in The Aviator

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 19 January Howard Hughes sets transcontinental air record, 1937 On this day in 1937 Howard Hughes set a new world record for flying across the continent of America. Flying a H-Racer with extra long wings, he made the journey from Los Angeles to Newark in 7 hours 28 minutes and 25 seconds. The plane had been commissioned by Hughes himself and was innovative in many respects, not least its insistence on all rivets and joints being set flush, which greatly increased its slipperiness through the air. The record was one of many accolades that this man born into wealth would accrue. … Read more