I just finished reading Todd McCarthy's biography of Howard Hawks.  It's one of the best of all film director biographies, extremely well-written, entertaining and wise.

Like Ford, Hawks was an elusive man, personally — his second wife called him “a great big pillar of nothing” — but he was a canny and ruthless operator, who played the Hollywood studio game as well as it has ever been played by a great artist.  It was his good fortune to want to make the kind of popular art the studios wanted to make, but he always wanted to do it on his own terms, and found ways to accomplish that.

His artistry is elusive, too — so simple and straightforward on its surface that it's hard to see how he manages to tell such exhilarating stories in such effective ways.  He probably wouldn't have been a fun guy to hang out with, except perhaps on a hunting trip, but as a filmmaker, he's almost always the best of company.