86. John Huston
THE MALTESE FALCON, THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, THE AFRICAN QUEEN, PRIZZI’S HONOR
A methodical filmmaker with the heart of a romantic, John Huston painted detailed pictures of heroic, yet often failed, quests. With his background as a painter, he seemed driven by a desire to plan his images well in advance; to really craft an image before the camera was even set up. Where some directors chose to shoot reels and reels of footage and connect the dots in the editing room, Huston avoided relying on the editorial process. He claimed, “I don’t even know the editor of my films most of the time.” Instead he spent his time with a sketchbook and was storyboarding constantly. He paired his strong visual style with legendary actor including often working with Humphrey Bogart and Jack Nicholson. He put it this way, “Half of directing is casting the right actors.” Of course he has his own knack for acting. He not only portrayed one of the most legendary silver screen villains in Chinatown, he’s also the only director to direct a parent (Walter Huston) and child (Angelica Huston) to Oscar wins. Huston received 15 Oscar nominations, won two, and he got there directing a string of legendary pictures including The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen, The Man Who Would Be King, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Prizzi’s Honor, The Asphalt Jungle and Annie. To quote his New York Times obituary, “The best Huston films have lean, fast-paced scripts and vibrant plots and characterizations, and many of them deal ironically with vanity, avarice and unfulfilled quests. In them, nonconformists and misfits brave danger fatalistically in a world where women are often peripheral.” Lauren Bacall called him, ”daring, unpredictable, maddening, mystifying and probably the most charming man on earth.”
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