John Huston: Courage and Art

Jeffrey Meyers. Crown, $30 (496p) ISBN 978-0-307-59067-1
In his detailed, absorbing portrait of Huston (1906–1987), biographer Meyers (George Orwell, Samuel Johnson, and Somerset Maugham) captures the remarkable parallels between these two men as he narrates the life and compelling work of one of the world's greatest film directors. Drawing on original interviews with Huston's family and friends as well as on newly available archival materials, Meyers traces Huston's life from his peripatetic childhood—when he and his mother wandered from Missouri, Texas, and Indiana to St. Paul, Los Angeles, and Phoenix—to his stint in the army through his triumphs and failures as an actor, screenwriter, and director. Social and gregarious, Huston was also private and self-enclosed; he had a zest for life, and an aura of recklessness, ruthlessness and irresponsibility. He made war documentaries under fire, hunted tigers in India and elephants in Africa, and took near-fatal risks—sometimes with the lives of others—in filming The African Queen and Moby Dick. Huston caught the world's attention in 1941 with The Maltese Falcon, his first feature in which all of his talents as a writer, actor, and director finally came together. Meyers points out that the characteristic theme of Huston's major films is the almost impossible quest, but one tempered by detachment and irony.(Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/25/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
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