At Large with Huston and Hemingway in the Fifties
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 Reserved but involving memoir of novelist/screenwriter Viertel's lifelong friendships with John Huston and Ernest Hemingway, among other fabulous folk. Viertel (American Skin, 1983, etc.), son of a European theater director and of Sasha Viertel, scenarist of six movies for her buddy Greta Garbo, attended his mother's Hollywood Sunday soirees for Thomas Mann and other refugee literati, and at 15 met John Huston. Viertel finished his first novel at 18, worked on screenplays, and married Budd Schulberg's ex-wife, Jigee. After a second unsuccessful novel, and years as a Marine officer in European Intelligence in WW II, he wrote a Broadway play with Irwin Shaw, which failed, and then met his idol, Hemingway, while skiing in Idaho. Friendships with Hemingway and Huston could be rocky. When Huston hired Viertel to co-write We Were Strangers, a Havana- based melodrama, Hemingway accepted Huston and Viertel as guests at his Cuban home and gave them testy advice about their picture. Viertel's roman Ö clef White Hunter, Black Heart tells of hazarding the African jungle with Huston to film The African Queen. Viertel worked on many Hemingway scripts and followed the bulls with ``Papa'' for many years. Endless celebrities became deep friends: his agent Irving ``Swifty'' Lazar, Orson Welles, Ava Gardner, Robert Capa, Slim Hayward, Humphrey Bogart, Darryl Zanuck, Anatol Litvak, and a dozen more, who appear here in the flesh and full of obsessions. Viertel abandoned Jigee while she was pregnant, for a model who later abandoned him for Aly Khan. A marriage to Deborah Kerr has lasted about three decades. Not stylish, but honest. Viertel's most memorable book, and a likely big winner. (Forty b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-385-26046-6
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1992