Cinema: Descending Hawks

Red Line 7000. Among cinemaddicts abroad, Howard Hawks, 69, enjoys a reputation for directorial brilliance based on such classics as Bringing Up Baby (1938) and To Have and Have Not (1944). At home, Hawks's recent work (Hatari!; Man's Favorite Sport?) seems geared to earn profit without honor. So does Red Line 7000.

The plot, characteristically Hawksian, tells of the rough-and-ready guys who race stock cars and their turned-on track followers who cry, cheer and deliver romantic ultimatums that any dewy-eyed dropout might treasure. Scene after scene, brand names—Ford, Omega, Honda, Revell, Firestone,...

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