John Huston “Film Fest”!

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John Huston “Film Fest”!

Editado: Mar 20, 8:44 am

I hope you’ll join us for a low-pressure, all-fun watching of John Huston! He made so many movies but we could start with the earliest ones. How about this list:

The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Key Largo (1948)
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
The African Queen (1951)


Chinatown (1974) John Huston as actor
Sergeant York (1941) John Huston as writer
The Man Who Would Be King (1975) John Huston, writer and director

I have seen a few of these (African Queen is one of my all-time faves) but I’m so looking forward to seeing them all and discussing them with other film buffs on LT.

So, I would consider The Maltese Falcon a “go”! I’m off to find my copy!

Mar 15, 1:55 pm

I am all in on this one, Karen. Thanks for setting it up. I watched Key Largo in the past year or so, (great film, great cast) but I will be up for watching the others. I can watch The Maltese Falcon early next week.

Editado: Mar 15, 2:36 pm

>2 msf59: Great news, Mark! I don't know if any others will join us, but we'll have fun!

Here's a little bit about John Huston, from good old Wikipedia:

John Marcellus Huston (/ˈhjuːstən/ (listen) HEW-stən; August 5, 1906 – August 28, 1987) was an American film director, screenwriter, actor and visual artist. He wrote the screenplays for most of the 37 feature films he directed, many of which are today considered classics, including The Maltese Falcon (1941), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The African Queen (1951), The Misfits (1961), Fat City (1972), The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and Prizzi's Honor (1985). During his 46-year career, Huston received 15 Academy Award nominations, winning twice. He also directed both his father, Walter Huston, and daughter, Anjelica Huston, to Oscar wins.

While most directors rely on post-production editing to shape their final work, Huston instead created his films while they were being shot, with little editing needed. Some of Huston's films were adaptations of important novels, often depicting a "heroic quest," as in Moby Dick, or The Red Badge of Courage. In many films, different groups of people, while struggling toward a common goal, would become doomed, forming "destructive alliances," giving the films a dramatic and visual tension. Many of his films involved themes such as religion, meaning, truth, freedom, psychology, colonialism, and war.

Editado: Mar 23, 6:55 pm

And, our first movie,
The Maltese Falcon:

The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 American film noir written and directed by John Huston in his directorial debut, based on the 1930 novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett and indebted to the 1931 movie of the same name. It stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade and Mary Astor as his femme fatale client. Gladys George, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet co-star, with the last appearing in his film debut. The story follows a San Francisco private detective and his dealings with three unscrupulous adventurers, all of whom are competing to obtain a jewel-encrusted falcon statuette.

The film premiered in New York City on October 3, 1941, and was nominated for three Academy Awards. Considered one of the greatest films of all time, it was one of the first 25 films selected by the Library of Congress to be included in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It is a part of Roger Ebert's series The Great Movies and was cited by Panorama du Film Noir Américain as the first major film noir.

Mar 17, 5:20 pm

I'll join in - thanks for the invite, Mark! This sounds like such a fun project - I have seen all the films more than once. Love John Huston, and what a treasure trove he left us as both a director and an actor. I have read the books for The Maltese Falcon, The Asphalt Jungle, and The African Queen. There is an excellent memoir written by Katherine Hepburn - The Making of The African Queen: Or How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and Almost Lost my Mind that I highly recommend if you can track it down - it's full of fabulous.

Mar 17, 5:59 pm

I found that I have a copy of The Maltese Falcon on DVD, so I can definitely join in to watch that one. I hope I can find copies of all the other movies to watch. I've seen all of the ones in the initial list more than once, except for The Asphalt Jungle, which I have not yet seen.

>5 Crazymamie: The Making of the African Queen is a great book; I second your recommendation!

Mar 17, 6:04 pm

Mar 17, 6:42 pm

>5 Crazymamie: >6 atozgrl: I am so glad to see both of you join us. He has released so many good films. This should be fun.

I also enjoyed The Making of the African Queen. I read this before joining LT. I also highly recommend The Hustons by Lawrence Grobel. This covers three generations of Oscar winners.

Editado: Mar 17, 6:46 pm

John Huston was also a fine actor and we could consider including some of his acting highlights like:

Mar 17, 8:02 pm

>5 Crazymamie: Welcome, Mamie! I, too, read and loved The Making of the African Queen!

>6 atozgrl: I'm glad to see you'll be watching the Maltese Falcon! And so cool that you have your own copy. I rely HEAVILY on the libraries to get mine (the ones that aren't on the streaming services, somewhere). I'll pick up my copy of Maltese Falcon tomorrow.

Karen O

Editado: Mar 17, 8:07 pm

>9 msf59: Hi, Mark! I read on Wikipedia that John Huston was a screenwriter before he ever directed, and I think that must make such a difference in the end product. I watched William Wyler-directed The Letter today, and it was so good--and it was based on a play of W. Somerset Maugham.

Mar 17, 8:10 pm

So what do you think about taking about a week to watch The Maltese Falcon? It would be great to read each other's comments and observations then. Maybe use the "spoiler" framework in case someone hasn't seen the film yet?

Mar 17, 8:14 pm

>8 msf59: I've added The Hustons to my TBR!

And, feel free to add films to our ongoing list--we can consider it a work in progress. The original list is in post number 1.

Mar 17, 11:09 pm

>10 klobrien2: At the moment, what I have on hand is my main supply. It doesn't look like our local public library carries videos any more, so I need another source. Not sure how long it would take to get anything on ILL.

Also, I haven't yet cut the cable cord (our wifi doesn't always work well downstairs, among other reasons), so I only subscribe to a couple of inexpensive streaming services at the moment. Which means I'll have to look around to see if I can find sources where I can watch any of the movies I don't have on hand.

But it is wonderful to find other classic movie lovers here on LT!

Mar 17, 11:18 pm

>11 klobrien2: The Letter is so good! Glad you enjoyed it.

>12 klobrien2: A week should work for me!

Mar 18, 8:32 am

>11 klobrien2: Glad you reminded me that Huston was a screenwriter. He penned both High Sierra, (a solid Bogart crime film) and the classic Sergeant York, before he began writing and directing his own films.

Mar 18, 8:45 am

I forget how many films Huston had directed- (47). So, there are many gems in there, along with many duds. The 40s is probably my favorite decade of his work but each of the next 4 decades has a few films worth seeing. The 50s is my second favorite, with Asphalt Jungle and African Queen as stand-outs. I remember seeing The Red Badge of Courage (‘51) many years ago and it was very impressive. It also may be hard to find. I also really enjoyed Moulin Rouge (‘52). Most of the others in the decade are mostly misses.

Any other thoughts on the '50s?

Mar 18, 10:19 am

>17 msf59: I don't think I was aware that John Huston had directed Moulin Rouge. I remember I liked it when I saw it, but that was many years ago.

Mar 18, 10:40 am

>18 atozgrl: An underrated film, IMHO, Irene.

FYI- The Maltese Falcon is on TCM Sunday morning.

Mar 18, 10:51 am

>8 msf59: Adding The Hustons to The List - thanks!

>9 msf59: I love this film!

>12 klobrien2: A week sounds good - we rewatch The Maltese Falcon and Key Largo every year or two as they are favorites of ours. I own all of the movies except Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Mar 18, 3:04 pm

>16 msf59: I also wasn't aware that Huston was a co-writer on Sergeant York, which is one of my favorite films, and which we were just discussing on another thread. Very interesting!

>8 msf59: I'm also adding The Hustons to my TBR list.

Mar 18, 8:37 pm

I added Chinatown and Sergeant York to post number one (movies we should watch). It would be great to see films Huston has been involved with, in all different aspects.

Mar 19, 9:08 pm

I’m a little ahead of schedule, but I watched Maltese Falcon today. I had just gotten it home from the library, and it was calling my name, so I had to watch it! Bogart was great, the others were fine, it was utterly enjoyable but very confusing at times.

So, did you know there was an older filmed version of MF? The older one came out in 1931, “pre-code,” and so racier or something? I found a copy of the older one on ILL, so I’ll hopefully get to see it and I’ll report back.

Karen O

Editado: Mar 19, 10:11 pm

>23 klobrien2: I actually went ahead and watched the Maltese Falcon this morning, since it was on TCM. I had it on while getting ready to head out to church. There are definitely things in the story that are confusing, especially at the beginning, but since the stories that they're telling Sam Spade are lies, I've decided I don't need to try to follow them all.

I was aware that there was an earlier version, but I've never seen it anywhere. Do let us know how it turns out!

Mar 19, 10:23 pm

Loved Key Largo, although you can at times tell it was an adapted stage play.

My absolute favourite of his is The Man Who Would Be King.

Mar 20, 7:54 am

>23 klobrien2: >24 atozgrl: Glad to hear you both watched MF. I will try to get to it tonight. I have it on DVD but also recorded it from TCM. I like the introduction(s), if there is one.

Has anyone read the book? I am not sure if that was asked. I read several of Hammett's books a couple decades ago, including The Maltese Falcon and remember really liking it.

>25 PaulCranswick: We will make sure we add that one to the list, Paul. I have seen The Man Who Would Be King but it has been 30-plus years.

Mar 20, 8:47 am

>25 PaulCranswick: I added The Man Who Would Be King to the list. I started small with the list just because there are so many great Huston-involved movies. I’m sure “the list” will continue to grow!

Mar 20, 8:49 am

>26 msf59: Yes, I read the book. I have a book that collects several Hammett books, and I read my way through. I might be due for a reread, though!

Editado: Mar 20, 5:47 pm

I discovered this morning that our local senior center will be showing Key Largo on April 26, so I will be watching that one then.

>26 msf59: I have not read the book The Maltese Falcon. I guess I had better add it to my TBR list.

Mar 20, 3:29 pm

>26 msf59: I have read the book several times, and it's a favorite of mine.

I'll watch the movie this afternoon or this evening since everyone else will have done so. I have big love for Bogart and for Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet. Who I think is miscast in this one is Mary Astor - I don't think she fits the part at all, although I have loved her in other things. I know I read somewhere that she really wanted the role.

Mar 20, 6:10 pm

>30 Crazymamie: I am glad to hear that you will try to watch it today, Mamie. I plan on starting it tonight.

Mar 20, 10:36 pm

FYI, TCM is airing Sergeant York Saturday morning. According to the schedule, it's supposed to be on at 10:30 US eastern time.

Mar 21, 7:26 am

I watched The Maltese Falcon last night. I feel it just keeps getting better. The writing and direction are top-notch, especially for a first-time director. I think this made Bogart a star and deservedly so. He mostly played villains before this one. Funny, that George Raft was offered this lead role and the lead in Casablanca and turned them both down. Thank you, George. The rest of the cast is terrific but I have to agree with Mamie, that Mary Astor is the weak link here. I wonder what Lauren Bacall would have done with this role? Did you know that this was Sidney Greenstreet's first film role, although he had acted on stage for decades.

I also completely forgot that Walter Huston, John's father, plays the uncredited role of Captain Jacoby, as he carries in the "bundle" and promptly dies.

Are we planning on doing a film a week or spreading them out? Next up for me would be The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Mar 21, 7:28 am

>32 atozgrl: Thanks for the heads-up, Irene. I am recording Sergeant York.

Mar 21, 12:05 pm

>33 msf59: Maybe we could say we’ll aim to watch a film per week, and if you have time, you can fill in with others? I’ll be getting “The Treasure” in time for weekend viewing, I guess. And maybe will try to catch “Sergeant York” (thanks for the heads-up, atozgrl!)

Editado: Mar 21, 12:25 pm

I may have to watch some out of order. I don't have a DVR (cable charges too much for it) and a couple of the movies are currently available on WatchTCM, so I may need to watch them before they're gone.

I've got Treasure of the Sierra Madre on DVD, so I can watch it any time.

Mar 21, 2:18 pm

I watched The Maltese Falcon last night. It was fun because Birdy and I put it on while dinner was cooking, and the room slowly filled up as Abby came downstairs and Rae and Craig came home from work, and we ended up all watching it together. I feel like Humphrey Bogart brings the character from the book to life as he was intended by Hammett. For me, Bogart IS Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe (the private detective from the Chandler books). I am impressed with the directing every time, and I did not know before that this was Huston's directoral debut.

>33 msf59: I did know that this was Sidney Greenstreet's film debut - they had t talk him into it, and thank goodness they did. I love him on film, and he is in two of my very favorites - Casablanca, and Christmas in Connecticut.

Editado: Mar 23, 7:04 pm

Coming up,
Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948):

From IMDB: Fred C. Dobbs and Bob Curtin, both down on their luck in Tampico, Mexico in 1925, meet up with a grizzled prospector named Howard and decide to join with him in search of gold in the wilds of central Mexico. Through enormous difficulties, they eventually succeed in finding gold, but bandits, the elements, and most especially greed threaten to turn their success into disaster.

Won three Oscars: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Walter Huston (John's daddy!)); Best Director (John Huston (of course)); and Best Writing, Screenplay (John Huston). Nominee for Best Picture.

Mar 23, 7:04 pm

Coming up,
Sergeant York (1941):

From IMDB: Somewhat fictionalized account of the life and war service of Alvin York, who went from humble beginnings to being one of the most celebrated American servicemen to fight in World War I. As depicted in the film, Alvin turned to religion when he was struck by lightning during one of his drunken outings. Alvin took his newfound religion seriously claiming to be a conscientious objector when receiving his draft notice. When that was refused, he joined the infantry where he served with valor, capturing a large number of Germans and saving the lives of many of his men who were under heavy fire.

John Huston was one of the screenplay writers. Howard Hawks directed. Gary Cooper stars.

Gary Cooper won the Best Actor Oscar.

Editado: Mar 26, 11:08 am

I watched Treasure of the Sierra Madre last night. Really enjoyed it. Walter Huston was amazing; I was unsold on Bogart at first, but his acting job is growing on me.
Got a kick out of seeing John Huston, and very cool to see Robert Blake as a young boy.
There’s a second disk in the DVD set with special features that I’ll take a look at today.

Mar 26, 2:33 pm

I haven't really said anything about The Maltese Falcon yet. I just wanted to comment a little. I'm not one of those people who are huge fans of film noir, but The Maltese Falcon is just so good that I can't imagine anyone not liking it. The cast is so fantastic! Bogart is great, and the character actors are wonderful. I love watching all of Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and even Elisha Cook Jr. I had never thought about Mary Astor as being miscast before, but I think you may be right about that. The thing that really struck me on this watching is just how fast they deliver the dialogue. Impressive that they could actually get the words out.

I hasten to add, I don't dislike film noir, but I'm not an aficionado either. There are several movies in the genre I really like, but I don't go out of my way to watch it.

Mar 26, 2:41 pm

I also watched The Man Who Would Be King on WatchTCM Thursday night. I wanted to see it while they still had it, and Thursday night was the first opportunity I had to watch a movie. This was the first time I had ever seen it. I'll try to remember my thoughts about it when it comes up on the list for the rest of you to watch.

Unfortunately for me, WatchTCM also had The Asphalt Jungle but it was already gone by Thursday night. It aired on TCM on March 13, before we started the film fest. Since The Man Who Would Be King was on TCM at the beginning of the month, I thought it was the most likely film to go off of WatchTCM first, but unfortunately not. The Asphalt Jungle was still on the list on Monday, but gone by Thursday night. It is another one I haven't seen before. It looks like I'm probably going to have to rent it on Amazon Prime.

Mar 27, 9:00 am

I will watch Treasure of the Sierra Madre tonight. I am so glad you liked it, Karen. It is one of his best. I had forgot a about Robert Blake being in it, as a boy. If you didn't know he recently passed.

I did record The Asphalt Jungle, from TCM. I will watch that sometime next week. I did miss The Man Who Would Be King but I discovered it is also streaming on HBOMax.

Has anyone watched PlutoTV? It looks like several of his films are playing on that platform. I would rather not deal with commercials.

Editado: Mar 28, 5:23 pm

I’m planning to read the book, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, by the mysterious B. Traven. In the meantime,…

Some of my favorite lines from “Treasure”: I thought later that I should "spoiler" this--my apologies if my posting this ruined anyone's first-time enjoyment of the film!

Curtin: You know, the worst ain't so bad when it finally happens. Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened.

Dobbs: Say, mister. Will you stake a fellow American to a meal?
American in Tampico in white suit: Such impudence never came my way. Early this afternoon I gave you money... while I was having my shoes polished I gave you MORE money... now you put the bite on me again. Do me a favor, will ya? Go occasionally to somebody else - it's beginning to get tiresome.
Dobbs: Ah, excuse me, mister, I never knowed it was you. I never looked at your face - I just looked at your hands and the money you gave me. Beg pardon, mister, I promise I'll never put the bite on you again.
American in Tampico in white suit: gives him a peso This is the very last you get from me. Just to make sure you don't forget your promise, here's another peso.
puts another peso in Dobbs' hand
Dobbs: Thanks, mister. Thanks.
American in Tampico in white suit: But from now on, you'll have to make your way through life without my assistance.

Howard: We've wounded this mountain. It's our duty to close her wounds. It's the least we can do to show our gratitude for all the wealth she's given us. If you guys don't want to help me, I'll do it alone.
Curtin: You talk about that mountain like it was a real woman.
Dobbs: She's been a lot better to me than any woman I ever knew. Keep your shirt on, old-timer. Sure, I'll help ya.

Gold Hat: We are the Federales... You know... The mountain police.
Dobbs: If you're the police, where are your badges?
Gold Hat: Badges?... We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges!

Dobbs: You know what I'm thinkin'. I'm thinkin' we ought to give up. Leave the whole outfit - everything behind and go back to civilization.
Howard: What's that you say? Go back? Ha, ha. Well, tell my old grandmother! I've got two very elegant bedfellows who kick at the first drop of rain and hide in the closet when thunder rumbles. My, my, my, what great prospectors, two shoe clerks readin' a magazine about prospectin' for gold in the land of the midnight sun, south of the border, or west of the Rockies, ha, ha, ha...
Dobbs: picking up a rock Shut your trap! Shut up or I'll smash your head flat.
Howard: Go ahead, go ahead, throw it. If you did, you'd never leave this wilderness alive. Without me, you two would die here more miserable than rats.
Curtin: to Dobbs Aw, leave him alone. Can't you see the old man's nuts?
Howard: Let me tell you something, my two fine bedfellows, you're so dumb, there's nothin' to compare ya with, you're dumber than the dumbest jackass. Look at each other, will ya? Did you ever see anything like yourself for bein' dumb specimens. You're so dumb, you don't even see the riches you're treadin' on with your own feet. Yeah, don't expect to find nuggets of molten gold. It's rich but not that rich. And here ain't the place to dig. It comes from someplace further up. Up there, up there's where we've got to go. UP THERE!

(Howard throws the empty "gold" bag away. He guffaws, then ROARS with laughter.

Laugh, Curtin, old boy, it's a great joke played on the lord of fate or nature, whatever you prefer...but whoever or whatever played it certainly had a sense of humor! The gold has gone back to where we found it! (lots more laughter) This is worth ten months of suffering and labor, this joke is!

Mar 27, 10:36 am

>44 klobrien2: I also am planning on reading the book for Treasure of the Sierra Madre - I picked up a digital copy. I watched part of the movie yesterday, but I got interrupted. Hoping to finish it up today. I have seen it before, more than once, but that was years ago with my Dad. Love the quotes you chose. We use the one about not needing any stinking badges all the time here - it's become a family quote, and I had forgotten where it came from!

>43 msf59: I have nit watched PlutoTv, Mark. I'm with you about not wanting to deal with commercials. I'm hoping to just rent any I don't own or can't access for "free" with the streaming services we subscribe to currently.

Mar 27, 10:53 am

>45 Crazymamie: Hope you get to watch the rest of “Treasure” today! It’s interesting to me how I’m liking it more as the days pass—it’s like it’s steeping in my mind or something! 😁

I’m really wanting to locate a quote from the very end of the movie, but can’t find it online, so I’m hoping the book will have it. I could load up the movie again, eh?

DVDs are still my favorite way to watch a movie. No commercials, for sure. And the special features are sometimes really great. The bonus disk for “Treasure” had a two-hour Huston retrospective (unfortunately, no CCs! Sob!), and a Looney Tunes cartoon with a spoof of Bogart in the film that was really great.

Mar 27, 2:45 pm

I finished up Treasure of the Sierra Madre - it was fun to watch it again after all these years.

We rarely watch DVDs anymore although we own quite a few. I prefer to stream just for the ease and convenience of it. You are right about the extras on DVDs, though. Sounds like your bonus material on this one was full of fabulous.

Mar 27, 3:05 pm

Okay, all you throngs of cinephiles, all travelers on this journey past the movies directed by John Huston:

I don't know why I thought we needed to all watch the same movies, in the same order, and you were all wise enough to see this. Maybe, instead we could proceed at our own pace and proclivities, and just catch up with each other from time to time?

If that seems good to you, I will put my list of what I have watched/will be watching right here. If you'd continue to be so kind as to share any movies that you think absolutely should be on the list, that would be great!

The Maltese Falcon (1941) (watched)
Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) (watched)
Key Largo (1948)
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
The African Queen (1951)
The Red Badge of Courage (Huston thought this was his best) (1951)
Moulin Rouge (1954)
Moby Dick (1956)
The Unforgiven (1960)
The Misfits (1961)
Night of the Iguana (1964)
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)

I'm really looking forward to this project. I've really enjoyed my first two movies! It is so much more enjoyable to hear your takes on the movies, so please keep posting!

Karen O

Mar 27, 10:31 pm

>48 klobrien2: I watched Sergeant York on Saturday, when it was on TCM. I have some thoughts to share, but need a block of time to write them up.

I would like to watch the movies in order, but I'm a bit constrained to watching what's available on the channels I get on cable, or a few streaming services that I have access to, except for the few that I have on DVD. Other than that, I'll have to rent them online. That's why I've decided I'd better go ahead and watch any that show up for free while I have the chance. If the rest of you want to stick to a more strict order and try to watch as a group, that's fine with me, and I can add my comments then. Or if we all want to watch in a different order, that's also OK. Whatever works for you all.

Were we also going to watch Chinatown? I'm not sure I've ever seen that one all the way through at one time. It's been on TV and I've caught pieces of it at various times, but I don't know if I've watched the whole thing straight through.

I should be able to get to Treasure of the Sierra Madre this week.

I can get PlutoTV but I've never actually tried it. I'll have to go take a look and see what movies are available there.

Mar 28, 8:19 am

I watched Treasure of the Sierra Madre last night. So good in so many ways. It is my favorite Huston film. Tough & gritty. Walter Huston deserved every bit of that Oscar win. He did not speak Spanish but memorized his lines so well, that everyone thought he was fluent. Great to see John Huston and Robert Blake pop up too.

I like watching in chronological order too but of course I will be skipping ahead to the films I would like to see. The Asphalt Jungle will be the next one, (next week) and then The African Queen & Moulin Rouge. I remember enjoying The Red Badge of Courage but it might be tough to find.

I recommend watching The Misfits. I watched it a year or so ago. It is special for the cast alone and all 3 are very good. I think Huston cooled off in the 60s but picked it back up in the 70s and 80s.

>49 atozgrl: Chinatown is one the great American films and Huston's performance is commanding and terrifying.

Mar 28, 8:51 am

I think Key Largo is my favorite Huston film of the ones I have seen. With The Maltese Falcon coming in a very close second. I love the contrast of the tender quiet moments that are captured against the raging hurricane and the volatile Edward G. Robinson character.

I'm going to watch in order, but I'm fine with everyone just doing their own thing. I love comparing thoughts and reading everyone's comments, so thanks o much for making this happen.

>50 msf59: Agree with Mark that Chinatown is full of fabulous.

Mar 28, 12:44 pm

>49 atozgrl: >50 msf59: >51 Crazymamie:

It seems like we’re all okay with proceeding as our supply of movies and personal preference leads. I, too, will be proceeding chronologically, but will continue to be very interested in how everyone is doing.

I should be getting Key Largo from the library very soon, so that will be my next Huston.

Good day, everyone!

Mar 28, 6:36 pm

>52 klobrien2: Key Largo is excellent. Enjoy. Huston in the '40s - he was at his best, IMHO.

Mar 28, 10:08 pm

Sergeant York was on TCM Saturday. It was fortuitous timing, because I had very recently read Sergeant York and His People, so I was able to compare the movie version of York's life to the real thing as told in the book. Here are some observations:

The big plot line that had York working to earn money to buy some bottom land is entirely fictional. However, it did allow the movie makers to demonstrate York's real skill with a rifle. The shooting match looks very accurate. The book described turkey/beef shooting matches, and what was shown in the film holds closely to how it's described in the book. (Although the movie is supposedly based on Alvin York's diary, scenes like this make me wonder if the filmmakers didn't use this book as well.)

York did have a wild period where he liked to go up to the Tennessee/Kentucky border, drinking and gambling. He and his buddies also liked to go galloping and shoot up trees along the road. Eventually some undisclosed incident at a "basket-party" caused him to give up drinking. He came to faith in a much less dramatic way than the movie shows, and eventually became Second Elder in his church. His mother and pastor sought the conscientious objector status for him; the book says he never asked for it for himself. They told him he could apply for exemption but he did not apply before being called up for service. Then while he was at training, his pastor wrote to the officers of his regiment, on behalf of his mother, and made a case for exemption. Sergeant York did indeed struggle with the idea that he was on a mission that involved killing other men. So he did have discussions about the scriptures with his officers, a point the movie got right.

As for the famous fight in the Argonne Forest, it's hard for me to visualize descriptions of a battle field, so I'm not entirely sure how much is accurate and how much is not. The movie does emphasize York's actions at the expense of some of the other Americans, which is a shame, although not unexpected. The thing that stood out to me was this: After the Americans surprised the first group of Germans they came upon and got them to surrender, then the Germans with the machine guns on the ridge turned around and started shooting at them and killed and wounded several of the Americans as shown. The Americans were pinned down, and did have to keep their eyes on their German prisoners. However, most of them could not see the German gunners from their positions because their view was obstructed by brush. York was on the left end and was able to edge around the bushes to get a clear view of the German gunners and pick them off. And the ones he shot like a flock of turkeys was actually a line of seven Germans coming around the hill for him with bayonets. Of course, York's exploits on that day were indeed extraordinary and worthy of acclaim.

The movie does get a lot right, in spite of over-dramatizing some of the story for the sake of entertainment. It is also one of the few Hollywood movies that shows respect for people of strong religious faith.

Gary Cooper strikes me as being too old for the role by the time the movie was made. However, his portrayal seems accurate as to the kind of person that Alvin York was, and it is memorable.

Sergeant York remains one of those movies that I really enjoy.

Abr 1, 10:35 pm

FYI, Key Largo is on TCM tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 Eastern time, according to the schedule.

Editado: Abr 2, 9:48 am

>54 atozgrl: This was so interesting - thanks for taking the time to share.

I watched Key Largo several days ago. This is a favorite of mine. As I mentioned above I love the juxtaposition of the gentle and tender moments with the raging hurricane and the rising tensions. Every time I watch it I am amazed at Claire Trevor's performance - she completely steals the show.

*Back to add that I love that they named the boat in this film after Bogart's own boat - Santana.

Abr 3, 5:49 pm

I'm sorry to have been away so long from this thread. I had a big tragedy happen in my life, as my husband Art fell very badly and then passed away (he'd been undergoing chemotherapy). I am in shock, grieving, not having much success in concentration or enjoyment. Reading is comforting, puzzles are comforting. My kids and other family have been so good and helpful, but I am pretty much a mess.

I probably won't want to talk much about this, but this is the one thread where I have some real conversations with other LTers, so I wanted to let you know. I've really been enjoying the conversations!

Karen O.

Abr 3, 6:27 pm

Karen, I am so very sorry. I just cannot even imagine. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

Abr 3, 7:17 pm

>57 klobrien2: OMG! I am so sorry to hear this, Karen. Our hearts go out to you. Wishing the best for you.

Abr 3, 9:56 pm

Karen, I've already responded on your main thread. I am just so devastated for you. I will be keeping you in my prayers.

Abr 7, 4:53 pm

I watched The Asphalt Jungle this afternoon - I have seen it before, the last time being several years ago after I read the book. I think it is so well done. The camera work here is especially impressive. This was one of Marilyn Monroe's big breaks - Huston originally wanted the part to go to Lola Albright, but she couldn't do it. I also think that the young girl dancing at the end of the film is perfectly cast. She looked familiar to me, and when I looked her up, it turns out that she was used By Disney as the live action model for Cinderella, Sleeping Beaty, and Anita Radcliffe in One Hundred and One Dalmatians.

Editado: Abr 16, 6:50 pm

I watched a movie today: I caught the 1931 The Maltese Falcon, made ten years before the John Huston version that started off our “fest.”
It was a pretty good movie; Bebe Daniels made a much better Ruth Wonderley than Mary Astor. All of the actors were fine, although Ricardo Cortez was no Humphrey Bogart. The story seemed to flow a little better, I was surprised to find. IMDB says that, because the movie was made in “pre-code” times, the emphasis is on sex, and it was! Sam was a regular horndog! Could be why they wanted to redo the movie in 1941?
The movie is well worth a watch.

Abr 17, 8:47 am

>62 klobrien2: I may have to track that one down, Karen. I have never seen it.

Abr 17, 8:52 am

I watched The African Queen last night. It may not be my favorite of Huston's films but it sure is a lot of fun and the star power of Bogart and Hepburn make it irresistible. Bogart won best actor for his effort. It was also Huston's first color film. There is also an excellent "Making of" doc on the DVD I watched, which I highly recommend along with Hepburn's memoir The Making of The African Queen Or How I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and almost lost my mind.

Next up will be Moulin Rouge but I won't get to it until next week.

Editado: Abr 17, 9:10 pm

>63 msf59: I've never seen that version either. You make it sound so interesting, I'll have to look for it. No idea where I might be able to find it.

Abr 17, 9:11 pm

>64 msf59: I agree about The Making of the African Queen. I read that book many years ago, but I remember that I really liked it.

Abr 18, 4:43 pm

>65 atozgrl: I found the 1931 Maltese Falcon on a three-disk set for the 1941 Maltese Falcon--just a bonus feature. They actually took to calling the 1931 movie, Dangerous Female, to distinguish it from the newer Maltese Falcon.

Good luck! Watching it gave me a different point of view on the Huston version.

Karen O

Editado: Maio 13, 10:07 pm

Well, I’m back at the John Huston Film Fest! My attention span has lengthened considerably in the month since my sweet Art passed. My recent viewings of the first season of “C. B. Strike” kind of let me know that I could handle other than half-hour sitcoms and really enjoy them. I’m doing better when I have “projects” that aren’t grieving or dealing with massive amounts of paperwork, so I’m back at the Fest!

So this evening I watched Key Largo and it was great! I can’t believe I had never watched the movie before! Wonderful cast, all around. Clare Trevor won Best Supporting Actress (well-deserved, a la crazymamie in post 56)and the writing won a nomination for Best Written American Drama from the Writer’s Guild of America. Our boy John was one of the writers and, of course, the director.

Next up for me is Asphalt Jungle.

Editado: Maio 1, 11:44 am

>68 klobrien2: Hi Karen! I watched Key Largo on TCM a month ago. When I came on here to say a little about it, I saw your news, and it threw me so much that I didn't say anything about the movie then. So I'll add my comments now.

Key Largo isn't really the kind of movie I enjoy that much. I'm not crazy about the story. Given that, the performances in the movie are really good. I had seen the movie before, a long time ago, but I remembered very little from it. I am glad that I watched it.

Before the movie started, TCM ran a short film about the life of John Huston, narrated by Angelica Huston, which I really enjoyed. That was worth it.

Maio 2, 10:10 am

>69 atozgrl: I appreciate your comments on Key Largo. The Angelica Huston documentary sounds great. I might have to hunt that up!

Have you watched any more John Huston since then?

Karen O

Maio 2, 5:55 pm

>70 klobrien2: I'm not sure whether the film is available anywhere. It was a short one, maybe 5 minutes long? I think it was probably created for TCM, so I don't know if it's something that you can find elsewhere. Of course, I haven't looked.

One other thing that I was going to say originally is how interesting it was to see Bogart and Bacall playing characters who are quite different from the sorts of characters we are used to seeing them play. As I say, the story isn't really my cup of tea, but the performances were interesting.

I haven't yet gotten back to watching the movies yet. I've got Treasure of the Sierra Madre and African Queen on DVD. I'm also still trying to see if I can find The Asphalt Jungle somewhere where I can easily see it. It was a rather busy month last month, interrupted by that nasty cold, so I didn't get as much done reading-wise or with the film fest as I wanted.

Editado: Maio 2, 6:31 pm

I am glad you are back on track with Huston Fest, Karen. I also loved Key Largo, which I saw about a year ago. I have Moulin Rouge on tap for tonight.

>71 atozgrl: I hope you get back on track with Huston Fest, Irene. I would like to see that doc too.

Editado: Maio 3, 6:31 pm

I did watch Hustons' Moulin Rouge last night. It came out in 1952 and is a fictional account of French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, starring Jose Ferrer and Zsa Zsa Gabor (yes, the sister of Eva Gabor of Green Acres fame! She was a beauty). It is a good bio pic, in beautiful technicolor, with lovely production design. Of coure, there are plenty of dark edges here, as well. I highly recommend it.

I think this ends his incredible streak, through the early 40s and early 50s. I have not included Red Badge of Courage, which I watched decades ago. It is an excellent adaptation and I also highly recommend it. I think I will skip on to the 1960s. Does anyone have a mid to late 50s recommendation? It seems to be a pretty weak period of his.

Maio 3, 6:10 pm

>73 msf59: I remember really liking this movie when I saw it years ago. It doesn't show up on TV very often. I hope I can find it for a re-watch.

I have to differ on Zsa Zsa Gabor, however. It was her sister Eva (who was nearly Zsa Zsa's twin) who was on Green Acres.

Maio 3, 6:35 pm

>74 atozgrl: Thanks for the correction, Irene. I fixed my post. I should have known that Eva was on Green Acres. They look so similar. I requested the DVD from my library. I think you can rent it on Prime Video for 3 bucks.

Maio 3, 6:45 pm

>75 msf59: They certainly do look alike! I used to think they were twins.

Maio 13, 12:00 pm

I finally got around to Treasure of the Sierra Madre this week. It was on TCM a week ago, but not at a good time, so I missed it then. But it was available on demand on the cable, so I watched it a few days ago. I decided this would be more convenient than pulling out the DVD. Although I've seen the movie several times before (but not recently), I watched it more closely this time, and there were several scenes I had forgotten. The performances in the movie are great, and Walter Huston certainly deserved his Oscar. Such a great look into what greed does to people.

Just like The Maltese Falcon, the TCM broadcast of this movie included a short documentary before the actual movie. This time it was more of a real documentary, in that it ran about 20 minutes or so. This one took a look at the movies Huston made. It included discussion of movies like The Maltese Falcon and Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but spent more time focusing on some of his lesser known movies, especially Reflections in a Golden Eye and Wise Blood. I was not aware of either of those movies. It also noted that John Huston was an avid reader, and loved to make movies of books that interested him. I am really glad I chose to watch the TCM showing just to see this short documentary. I noticed this time that it was specifically created for TCM, so I'm not sure if it's available anywhere.

Maio 13, 12:06 pm

>77 atozgrl: Sounds like you had a good watch! Those “extras” are one of the reasons that I enjoy watching from DVDs: the extras are usually pretty interesting and enlightening.

I think I will be watching African Queen today. It’s one of my favorites, but this “fest” has opened my eyes a little bit, and I will be looking for Huston’s touch in the film.

Karen O

Editado: Maio 13, 10:07 pm

This afternoon I watched African Queen. I've seen it a few times before, but not with the exposure to the films of John Huston that I've had lately.

The DVD that I watched contained a version of the film that was remastered in 2009, and it was beautiful! Filmed in Technicolor, a good part of it filmed in Africa.

I watched a great hour-long documentary, "Embracing Chaos: Making the African Queen," located on the library DVD copy. Mark, I think that this documentary is the same one that you mentioned in your review (post 64). Learned lots of inside information, like James Agee worked on the screenplay with John Huston. Agee had written an article about Huston ("John Huston: Undirectable Director"; I just googled it and I'll have to read it later). Sam Spiegel (quite a character) was the producer, the original impetus behind getting the film made.

There was contention during the making of the film as to how it should end. The book, by C. S. Forester, does not have a happy ending. But the final consensus was that the filmmakers couldn't have Bogie and Hepburn die. They finally realized that what they had made was a comedy, and had to end happily.

Great film, and excellent documentary.

Editado: Maio 19, 2:05 pm

I'm planning to watch at least one John Huston-directed movie this weekend--Asphalt Jungle. I've also got Moby Dick home from the library, so it might be a two-Huston weekend. I had a cool two-part Moulin Rouge requested from ILL, but that has fallen through, so I'll need to look around a little more.

Karen O

Editado: Maio 21, 12:16 pm

Yesterday I watched Asphalt Jungle. I was a first-time viewer. I really enjoyed the film, but it was definitely film noir. I got a kick out of IMDB: one reviewer said of the movie, "It's gritty, as realistic as a gritty fantasy could be in 1950, as realistic as I want. The multi-character interplay sticks in the mind, everyone's grafting and ready to dump on the next guy." Great script, it never dragged, kept my attention all along. The cast was also really good; my favorite was Jean Hagen as Doll Conovan. She was a great comic actress (Lina Lamont in Singing in the Rain), but here she is a sad, sweet, dramatic actress.

The filming is brilliant (IMHO), with some unusual angles and close-ups that stand out for their simplicity and beauty. And, of course, I have to say that the directing (by our John Huston, who also co-wrote the script) was top-notch. Didn't seem to be a wasted word or scene.

Next up for me is Moby Dick.

Editado: Maio 28, 6:29 pm

I watched Moby Dick this weekend. I thought it was a beautifully-filmed movie, but was caught off-guard by the violence of the whaling scenes. Somehow, it's easier to be more cerebral about the scenes in the book, maybe. There was a lot of blood, and they were all pretty gleeful about it.

Ray Bradbury wrote the screenplay! From IMDB: "The screenplay was written by Ray Bradbury, and it was his first. In his lectures and interviews, Bradbury always seems to tell the story of how John Huston contacted him out of the blue for this assignment. Evidently, he flew Bradbury and his wife to Ireland, where the science fiction writer was holed up in a hotel for a few weeks, in a wonderful agony of creation."

I was surprised by the gossip about the making of the film, about the contention between Huston and Gregory Peck (Captain Ahab). Huston had wanted to make "Moby Dick" for years,
but hadn't found a studio who would take it on. I think Huston's first pick for the role of Ahab would have been his father, Walter Huston who, unfortunately, had passed away in the early 1950s. From IMDB: "When John Huston was casting for Moby Dick he got to make it on condition that he get a name actor to play Ahab. He went to Gregory Peck who was surprised by the offer. Given his image and the roles he had played up to that time, Peck thought he'd be better cast as Starbuck the first mate. Nevertheless he agreed to do Ahab. Peck got mixed reviews at the time, but over the course of 50 years his performance has gotten better with time." (Or, our perception of it changed).

Here's what one person said about the making of the movie (from IMDB): "It would be impossible to make a movie that came up to the standard of the novel "Moby-Dick", but this film does a fine job of capturing some of the most important themes, and of telling a selection of the key parts of the story in an interesting way."

Man, there are a LOT of "Moby Dick" movies out there! I might try to watch them all, and do a "Compare and Contrast" (the English Lit teacher's favorite essay question) of them. Here's a list:

1930, with John Barrymore as Ahab. 5.6 IMDB rating. "Extremely loose adaptation" with "Ahab as a bit of a lovable scamp at first." Yikes.

1956, with Gregory Peck as Ahab. 7.3 IMDB rating.

1998, TV mini-series, with Patrick Stewart as Ahab. 6.4 IMDB rating.

2010, "2010: Moby Dick," with Barry Bostwick as Ahab. 2.4 IMDB rating. I'm not kidding. I use IMDB a lot, and I've never seen a number that low!

2011, TV mini-series, with William Hurt as Ahab. 6.2 IMDB rating.

Maybe I've now seen the best "Moby Dick."

Maio 28, 6:29 pm

So, I'm planning to watch Huston's Moulin Rouge when I get it from ILL, and then the newer Baz Luhrmann version (2001), to "Compare and Contrast" (ha!)

After that, I think I'll watch Night of the Iguana (1964), and then The Man Who Would Be King. That might be it for my John Huston watching.

If anyone else is still reading this thread, have you been watching any more Huston? Do you plan to? Did Huston just kind of putter out? He did a bit of drinking and other shenanigans--did he burn out?

Maio 29, 8:10 am

>83 klobrien2: I have not given up on the John Huston "Film Fest", Karen. I have slowed down a bit. I watched Sergeant York a couple weeks ago, which Huston had a hand in the screenwriting. A good, slightly dated film. Gary Cooper is really good but much to old for that part. Howard Hawks is easily one of my favorite directors.

I also recently watched Night of the Iguana, which I haven't seen in decades. After a slow start, I found it to be a very good film. It is worth watching just for the star power of Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr. Written by Tennessee Williams. The next one I am going to pick up is The Reflection in a Golden Eye, which I have also not seen in decades. It may not be one of his best but I think worth seeing for Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor.

Editado: Maio 29, 8:28 am

"Did Huston just kind of putter out?"

In regard to the late 50s and early 60s, I think his films took a downward trend in overall quality but he surged back in the 70s and 80s. I still recommend The Misfits too and you talk about star power- Clark Gable, Montgomery Cliff and Marilyn Monroe. Probably the last good performances from all 3. They all died shortly after. Great western setting too.

I will be joining Karen with The Man Who Would Be King but I also recommend Fat City, which I think is his best film of the 70s. I also watched The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, which is just okay, despite a very solid Paul Newman role.

>82 klobrien2: I think I will circle back at some point about rewatch Huston's Moby Dick. Karen described it well.

Maio 29, 11:29 am

>84 msf59: >85 msf59: Hey, Mark, I’ll join you for The Reflections in a Golden Eye, and maybe The Misfits. I’m looking for a source for Fat City—it’s a little hard to find, but ifI do find it, I’m sure I’ll watch it. Thanks for the tips, and “good viewing!” to you!

Karen O

Jun 1, 8:46 pm

>83 klobrien2: I've been out of town since May 21, so I haven't been able to keep up with my movie watching. I have a lot to catch up on, although I've already watched The Man Who Would Be King. I was saving any comments on that until others had watched it.

I hope to be able to watch most of the movies listed, though it will depend on where I can find them. I also recommend The Misfits, though it has been a long time since I saw it.

I would like to see both Reflections in a Golden Eye and Wise Blood, which were discussed more in depth in that TCM documentary I saw, which made me curious about both movies. I have never seen either one, and I'm not sure how easy it might be to find them.

I saw Moby Dick once, also many years ago, and I didn't care for it. I wonder what I'll think on a re-watch--again, assuming I can find it.

Editado: Jun 1, 9:12 pm

Has anyone suggested watching Prizzi's Honor? That's the John Huston movie I actually saw in the theater when it came out, while I was in library school. (All the rest of his movies I saw on TV.) It's interesting because Anjelica Huston is in it. I remember enjoying that one.

Ontem, 7:26 am

Welcome back, Irene. Thanks for jumping back into the Huston Fest. I definitely did not forget Prizzi's Honor. His last great film, IMHO. His daughter, Angelica, won a well-deserved Oscar for her performance. I will also recommend "The Dead" his last film, although it is much more somber.

Editado: Ontem, 3:42 pm

Okay, you’ve sold me on both The Misfits and Prizzi’s Honor. Maybe The Dead since it was his last. Still looking for Fat City.

I really want to watch Huston’s Moulin Rouge next but haven’t got it yet (grr!)

So, here is what I have coming up:

Moulin Rouge (1952) (this is the Huston film I’m waiting for)
Moulin Rouge dir. Baz Luhrmann (2001)

On the Beach dir. Stanley Kramer (1959)

The Misfits (1961)
Night of the Iguana (1964)
Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)
Fat City (1972)??
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
Prizzi’s Honor (1975)
The Dead (1987)

So my plan is to right ahead with On the Beach since it isn’t part of the “Huston Fest.” Maybe tonight? but definitely this weekend.

Ontem, 6:26 pm

>90 klobrien2: Hmmm, I've never heard of On the Beach. Interesting. How did you come to be aware of it?

If all the post trip stuff doesn't eat all my time, I hope to be able to find time this weekend to watch The African Queen, which I have on DVD. I've seen it many times before, but it's fun. If I didn't already have so many commitments of books to read this month, I would be tempted to do a re-read of The Making of the African Queen.