JOHN HUSTON: Maker of Magic by Stuart M. Kaminsky

JOHN HUSTON: Maker of Magic

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KIRKUS REVIEW

While as many odds and ends have been written on John Huston as on practically any other film director, Kaminsky's is the first book to look seriously into the career of the 72-year-old who has pursued boxing, hunting, writing, acting, and five wives as well as the movies. Kaminsky eschews most of the ""whys"" of Huston's roistering personal life to further the sort of in-depth, film-by-film analysis begun in James Agee's fine Life articles. Identifying Huston's seminal themes as the ill-fated group, the alliance of greed, the woman as threat, the choice between practical and fantastic goals, and the search for truth hidden in the past, Kaminsky follows Huston's career from his debut story ""Fool"" through the 1976 Man Who Would Be King, and including the ""neglected"" 1963 List of Adrian Messenger, which is Kaminsky's (and no onÉ else's!) ""favorite film in the world."" A good deal of attention is paid to the forging of such films as African Queen and Treasure of Sierra Madre, and each work is explored in terms of style, thrust, character, and, most perceptively, personal obsession. Friends, foes, and mentors as well as critical and box office verdicts are summoned to evoke a director whose nicknames include ""The Great Unpressed"" and ""The Monster""--this last affectionately coined by his good friend Bogart. Disaster and masterpiece are accorded almost equal time, and analysis is cannily interlaced with accounts of Huston gleefully ordering his father to fall for twelve separate takes in a cameo part in The Maltese Falcon. Huston emerges a genius, a cynic, a prankster, a consummate craftsman. Kaminsky is equable almost to a fault, but what he sacrifices in original thought, he mines in amplitude; and his book--at best and worst a succinct consolidation of so many earlier articles--ought to please buff and scholar alike.

Pub Date: March 14th, 1978
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin