What’s That Movie? The Aviator – a Martin Scorsese picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett

I recently read a Howard Hughes biography – Howard Hughes: The Untold Story by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske (you can read my review here) and knew I had to follow up with the highly recommended movie about this unique historical figure.

The biography of Howard Hughes is very good and covers more years than the movie.

The Aviator was made in 2004 and has an impressive cast of stars: Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn, and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner. Other stars include Ian Holm, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Gwen Stefani, Kelli Garner, Matt Ross, Willem Dafoe, Alan Alda, and Edward Herrmann.

The film covers Hughes’s life from 1927 – 1947. It begins with the making of the film Hell’s Angels and continues with the pioneering years of TWA and Hughes Aircraft, as Hughes broke flight records and secured government contracts during World War II. The later part of the film highlights how Hughes unravels due to his obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I thought the movie was great. DiCaprio’s portrayal of Hughes is excellent from beginning to end and Cate Blanchett is terrific as Katherine Hepburn. I also enjoyed seeing familiar actors, especially Alec Baldwin who plays the head of Pan America and Alan Alda who plays a U.S. Senator with close links to Pan Am and who is also bent on bringing Hughes down.

Can I say that the cinematography was great without sounding like I’m trying to be a film expert? It did win for that and I found the whole movie exciting to watch, from the Hollywood scenes to the plane scenes, including one dramatic crash that really took me there.

It’s not based on the book, just on the life of Howard Hughes, and not his early years or his later ones, even though it’s nearly three hours long! What’s left out of this portrayal is how Hughes was obsessed with having and controlling a shocking number of women. There’s a hint of it, though.

The Aviator was nominated for eleven awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor for DiCaprio, and Best Supporting Actor for Alda, winning five: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction, and Best Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett. You can read more about the film on Wikipedia and IMDb.

Have you watched this movie? Since I have some more free time on my hands, I think I may watch it again!

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Book Review: Howard Hughes: The Untold Story by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske

Howard Hughes: The Untold Story
by
Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske

Rating:

I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know much about Howard Hughes when I opened this biography. Most of it happened before I was born and I was too young to understand what happened later in his life. But I knew his name and I had a vague knowledge of his involvement in aircraft and the movies. That was it.

Hughes had a lot going on in his life. He was a dashing billionaire inventor and pilot, ran two giant corporations, built a major airline, was a filmmaker and used his money to get and control whatever he wanted, including a shockingly long list of glamourous women.

Born in Texas in 1905, Hughes grew up an only child, smothered by his mother’s obsessive attention and fear of germs. Already different and uncomfortable around other children, he preferred to play alone in the workshop his father built for him, where he tinkered with many inventions. He became a millionaire at nineteen, when his father died and left behind a successful oil drill bit business (Hughes Tool Company). The timing of his life, his engineering genius and business instinct resulted in decades of profits in the tool, aircraft and government contract businesses. With all this going on, he plunged into movie-making and made many successful films.

But there were many things askew in Howard Hughes. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a condition that was less understood at the time and often untreated or self-treated, affected all aspects of his life. More than a dozen head injuries, a syphilis infection and an alarming drug habit no doubt contributed to an increasingly bizarre and reclusive life.

He surrounded himself with staff and security who would do anything he asked, including hunting down beautiful stars and starlets, some of them in their teens, setting them up in bugged apartments, with detectives reporting on their every move. He seduced hundreds of famous women, including Jean Harlow, Kathryn Hepburn, Ava Gardner and Lana Turner, married twice, and was engaged to multiple young women and girls at the same time. He declared his love to all of them and some of them bought it. Hughes’s behavior with women was glamorized at the time, but from a modern reader’s perspective, it is disturbingly predatory.

Despite these conditions, he continued to negotiate huge deals for Hughes Tool Company, Hughes Aircraft, RKO Pictures and Trans World Airlines. He was also a political contributor, sometimes to both parties and had ties to President Richard Nixon’s adversary, Democratic National Committee Chairman Larry O’Brien. It’s believed that Nixon’s interest in knowing more about O’Brien’s relationship with Hughes was one of the reasons for the Watergate break-in.

In his prime, Howard Hughes was deemed an American hero, but in his final years, he was barely lucid. And it turns out, his loyal staff had their sights on his riches and pumped him with shocking amounts of codeine and painkillers. He died at age seventy in 1976.

There is much more in this book, too much to mention and better to read first-hand. There is no question that Hughes’s unbelievable life story fits Mark Twain’s observation that “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

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Happy New Year!

Hi Everyone and Happy New Year!

I’ve had fun seeing what all the book bloggers read in 2019 and now it’s time to begin again! I’m not doing any reading challenges this year, but I always like to have a short-term plan for what I’m going to read.

So here’s what’s in store for January:

I just started A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It’s on loan from the library on my Kindle and due soon, so that’s first. OMG I am tearing through it. I’m already sure I will give it a good review!


Next up is The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. I’m reading it for my mystery book club at work. We decided to return to one of the first of the genre and this one goes way back. The Moonstone was first published in 1868!


I got two books for Christmas and I can’t wait to start them. I’ve been talking about reading a Howard Hughes biography and this one is Howard Hughes – the Untold Story by Petter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske.


I also got You by Caroline Kepnes. If you don’t know about this book, it’s also a series on Netflix and Season 2 just started. I’m going to read this first, watch Season 1, then move on to either the sequel called Hidden Bodies or watch Season 2 first. Can’t decide!


I hope you have some fun things and some good books lined up for 2020. What’s the first book you will read?

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