Howard Hawks' Speed Breed
Colonel Forehand parked a race car in front of the
Whilst on topic of "good," I'll mention Red Line's fix on the word, that in accord with Hawks' career-long measure of men. You never have to wait long for HH to bring it up. Are you good? Yeah, I'm good. How good? Plenty good. Good enough? ... and so on along Hawksian inventory of his characters' skill. If one of them dies, it's usually because he wasn't good enough. That happens early in Red Line 7000. Hawks wrote the story, and though another guy is credited for the screenplay, I'd guess this was another of "yellow tablet" pics that Howard messed with on day-by-shooting-day basis. His was a habit of discarding stuff that was advance writ and scratching out dialogue to serve needs of the moment, doing so on said tablet he'd bring to the set.
Red Line 7000 is 1932's The Crowd Roars minus goggles and open road-missiles. The game looked more dangerous back then, but Hawks updates to 60's-era flaming wreckage and end-over-end flips. Otherwise, his people behave same as they had thirty-three years before, for which HH got grief when Red Line was new. His thing was still action and men under stress, and that was essentially timeless. What matter if trimmings creaked as an old man harked back? (Hawks was nearing seventy) Raoul Walsh was elsewhere being just as retro (A Distant Trumpet), but postures of vets like these, while dimming fast among a greater populace, still had enough relevance to squeak their late work by, the truest 60's revolution not fully caught up to them. Noteworthy is fact that the Production Code was still in effect and being enforced when Red Line 7000 was made, a thing unimaginable but a few years later when a ratings system was in place and movies went all-out abandon.
Hawks used a largely un-seasoned cast for Red Line 7000, which is better for me than Hatari! where he had one superstar, John Wayne, plunked down amidst duds of a support group. It's easier to get used to a cast of ciphers when they're all ciphers. I looked up Red Line's cast on IMDB: several were in just this movie and none others. Where is Gail Hire now? --- or John Robert Crawford? They evidently did no features before or after Red Line. Hire was a tall model that well-known starmaker Hawks saw on a billboard that would serve as 7000's Paula Prentiss, voice/carriage similar enough to make one think the director sat his discovery through multiple views of Man's Favorite Sport (see if you can be as good as her). The young men represent varying degrees of colorless, but sometimes even that can be engaging in context of a 60's struggle
Then there is the music. Others have decried Red Line's rock and roll band playing likes of The Old Gray Mare and I've Been Workin' On The Railroad, attributing that to dotage on the director's part. I see it quite different on review of the score as a whole, as composed by Nelson Riddle. His cleffing of Red Line 7000 is one of the great overall things about the show, a cocktail flavoring not unlike what Henry Mancini brought to quieter moments of Hatari!. Those ancient, and reviled, tunes are Red Line-confined to rock and rolling, a device to my guess quite deliberate on Hawks' and Riddle's part. Chances are that neither cared for R&R, but were obliged to use it in obedience to changed times. What better means of showing disdain than to have your rockers flail away at the most insipid songs imaginable? No way was this anything other than Hawks' playful dig at a music form his generation thought strictly for the birds.
Red Line 7000 might better be titled The Romance Of The Pepsi Machine. Any more product placement and it would look like pre-show in a 2013 theatre. A soundstage-built Holiday Inn courtyard smacks of a travel guide sprung to life, and yes, that Pepsi dispenser makes me yearn for yore days of vending. James Caan and Marianna Hill conduct their romance in its warm glow --- could even a log fire be more inviting? Every room we enter is salted with some Red Line investor's merchandise, a real Easter Egg hunt for consumer studiers, all very much part of Red Line 7000's charm. Seeing this movie was more about stuff you'd buy after seeing this movie. Were neighborhood teens riding Hondas in the wake of Red Line 7000's
Red Line 7000 took $1.9 million in domestic rentals, less than was needed to cover negative costs of over two million (would foreign have gotten it into profit?). There was a 1968 reissue with Sons Of Katie Elder, the pair meriting new accessories, poster art, etc., from which Red Line emerged with an additional $137K in domestic rentals.