Thursday, October 20, 2011
John Huston - Biography by Jeffrey Meyers
“John Huston - Courage and Art” is a new biography of the larger-than-life Hollywood director (and writer, and sometimes actor) by Jeffrey Meyers.
The director of “The Maltese Falcon” (1941), “Key Largo” (1948), “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950), “The African Queen” (1951), “The Treasure of Sierra Madre” (1948) and “The Misfits” (1961), these titles alone would ensure him a place among the finest directors in classic films, along with his two Oscars, but he was also as famous for his bold, freewheeling lust for life, adventure, and women.
Mr. Meyers is no stranger either to biography or the Hollywood or literary greats. His numerous books include works on Humphrey Bogart and Ernest Hemingway, who the author notes figure prominently in John Huston’s life and work. To some extent this new book and his previous biographies dovetail in themes and certainly in research. The book is fast-paced, very readable, although sometimes repetitious. It is a good introduction into the psyche of John Huston, but the catalogue of his passions, which were many, and his attention span, which was brief, don’t leave as much room for a detailed analysis of his films, which is what appeals most to film buffs.
John Huston, son of the famous stage and film actor Walter Huston, was estranged from his parents in childhood, and also suffered from poor health such that he was made to understand he would die young. From that point, he lived a live as full and daring as anyone possibly could, which left him at the end of his (actually) long life with a string of accomplishments, and with a line of wives and lovers, and children with whom he could or would not connect emotionally.
Nevertheless, they, as others did, found him a charismatic man whose bravest act of all was perhaps just daring to tell stories no one else told in a spare, artist’s manner no one else tried.
“John Huston - Courage and Art” by Jeffrey Meyers is published by Crown Archetype.
NOTE: A free copy of “John Huston - Courage and Art” by Jeffrey Meyers was provided to me by the publisher for review purposes.