22. John Huston (1906 – 1987)
Says writer-director Mika Kaurismäki of the life of John Huston: “John Huston’s film career lasted at least 57 years, more than the half of the first century of cinema. He started acting at the end of the 1920s, writing scripts in the beginning of the ’30s, and made his directorial debut in 1941 with the excellent The Maltese Falcon, that renewed the whole genre of detective films. The Asphalt Jungle is one of the classics of film noir; it inspired many directors, including Kubrick, who five years later made The Killing and Jean-Pierre Melville, who said that it was the most important American film of all time.
Huston was able to change with time and some of his later films (Fat City, The Life and Times of the
Judge Roy Bean, Wise Blood and Prizzi’s Honor) were absolutely modern films that achieved the critical acclaim normally associated with promising debut filmmakers. He was a painter, boxer, bullfighter, poet, hunter, soldier, gambler and filmmaker. He adored life and took risks. This can be seen in his films; no genre was impossible for him. The African Queen, Moulin Rouge, Moby Dick, The Misfits, Freud, The Night of the Iguana, The Bible, Casino Royale, Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Man Who Would be King are just a few examples of his range.
Huston was a storyteller whose films were always both well conceived and strongly character-driven, even to the extent that his ‘directorial style’ was often invisible. As James Agee says: “a wonderful breath of fresh air, light, vitality and freedom goes through every one of his issues/47/images.”