He was a great director and a pretty good actor as well. And his daughter has followed in his footsteps.
We don’t care what some critics say. We are big fans of John Huston, and always will be. Any director who gives us The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Beat the Devil and The Asphalt Jungle — not to mention The African Queen, The Man Who Would Be King and many other titles — has got to be admired.
How much do you know about this productive director/actor? Check out our answers to yesterday’s Monday Quiz. (The questions are listed in the blog below.)
We have been inspired here by Huston’s 1994 memoir An Open Book and the 2014 publication of daughter Anjelica Huston’s revealing memoir, Watch Me. By the way, that’s Huston fille’s picture above right along with Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner, costars in Huston’s late-in-career hit, 1985’s Prizzi’s Honor.
On to our answers:
1) Answer: c) and d) would work here but the answer we were looking for is a) The Other Side of the Wind, Welles’ final, unreleased film which may well see the light of day this year. It’s being worked on in Hollywood. The general goal is to have a finished print of The Other Side of the Wind ready for a May 6 screening marking the 100 anniversary of Welles’ birth. The movie is described as “a movie within a movie about the comeback attempt of an aging, maverick director played by John Huston.” That’s Huston as actor, of course.
2) Answer: b) False. Nicholson and Huston got along well with the younger actor deferring to his senior with the greatest respect. That at least is what Anjelica Huston, Nicholson’s longtime love, reports in her new book.
3) Answer: d) John Wayne, who did not get along especially well with Huston when they made 1958’s The Barbarian and the Geisha for 20th Century Fox. Before leaving for another project, Huston turned over to Fox a final print of a sensitive, well-balanced work. But he goes on, Wayne took over since he wielded clout at the studio. Changes were made at Wayne’s behest. The upshot, writes Huston, was a bad picture, but it was a good picture before it became a bad picture.
4) Answer: c) Errol Flynn. He and Huston duked it out at the home of producer David Selznick. It was a real fight, and both combatants were briefly hospitalized after. It all started, writes Huston, when Flynn made a reference to an unnamed woman, a crack which Huston objected to. He and Flynn later worked together in 1958’s Roots of Heaven.
5) Answer: a) True. Huston has acted in 54 credits, while directing 47.
6) Answer: c) George C. Scott, who played Abraham in 1966’s The Bible: In the Beginning, which Huston directed. Scott had a nasty breakup with costar Ava Gardner, and tried to intimidate her. On one occasion, an inebriated Scott had to be physically restrained by Huston, who admired Scott as an actor but not as a person.
7) Answer: a) True. Huston was plagued by a longstanding heart condition, and then emphysema. Still he lived to age 81, and worked pretty much until the end in 1987.
8) Answer: b) The villain — a smooth talking lawyer play by Louis Calhern — commits suicide in The Asphalt Jungle. Getting the Hays office to go along with this plot twist was tough, wrote Huston, requiring some inventive staging.
9) Answer: c) Humphrey Bogart wished to speed up production so that he would be free to race his boat. He kept pestering Huston, who finally grabbed the actor’s nose — and turned. Apologies all around later.
10) Answer: a) True. Bogie and Truman Capote got into a wrestling match on the set of 1953’s Beat The Devil, and Capote (who co-wrote the movie) bested Bogart. Recalled Huston: Truman’s epicene comportment was downright deceptive: he was remarkably strong and had pit bulldog in him.