John Huston, Hollywood's Human Element

John Huston in 1966. i i

hide captionJohn Huston, photographed in London in March 1966.

Fred Mott/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
John Huston in 1966.

John Huston, photographed in London in March 1966.

Fred Mott/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Filmmaker John Huston — born 100 years ago Saturday, on Aug. 5, 1906 — made some of cinema's most enduring classics, among them The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

He was nominated 14 times for the Academy Award, for writing, directing and acting. He helped his father, Walter Huston, to the Oscar for Sierra Madre. Nearly 40 years later, he turned the same trick for his daughter, Anjelica Huston, in Prizzi's Honor.

In an era of studio films shot on Hollywood sets, Huston made movies in Africa, Mexico, Ireland and on the open sea, through multiple marriages, public brawls and bouts with alcohol. Amid praise and admiration, Anjelica Huston's descriptions of her father include words such as "terrifying" and "rage."

Huston, playing the cooly brutal character Noah Cross in Chinatown, tells Jack Nicholson's Jake Gittes: "Most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place they're capable of anything."

Huston's films revealed human weakness, human resilience and whatever it is that makes people chase misguided dreams to certain failure, and then get up to pursue the next treasure... the authentic Falcon... or the great white whale.

A 'Quotable' John Huston Quiz

A young John Huston on the beach (1951)

hide captionJohn Huston relaxes on a beach in April 1951, the year 'The African Queen' won Hollywood's heart.

Kurt Hutton/Picture Post/Getty Images

11 Huston Movies

 

Match the movies below to the quotes at right:

 

1. 'The Maltese Falcon' (1941)

 

2. 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre' (1947)

 

3. 'Key Largo' (1948)

 

4. 'The Asphalt Jungle' (1950)

 

5. 'The African Queen' (1951)

 

6. 'Moby Dick' (1956)

 

7. 'The Misfits' (1960)

 

8. 'Casino Royale' (1967)

 

9. 'The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean' (1972)

 

10. 'The Man Who Would Be King' (1975)

 

11. 'Prizzi's Honor' (1985)

 

SEE THE ANSWERS

Katharine Hepburn in 'The African Queen' i i

hide captionKatharine Hepburn learns the Germans have invaded the African village in which she lives.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Katharine Hepburn in 'The African Queen'

Katharine Hepburn learns the Germans have invaded the African village in which she lives.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
John Huston, Gregory Peck and the cast of 'Moby Dick' i i

hide captionHuston (far right) with members of the cast of 1956's 'Moby Dick.' Gregory Peck ("Capt. Ahab") is in the stovepipe hat.

Fox Photos/Getty Images
John Huston, Gregory Peck and the cast of 'Moby Dick'

Huston (far right) with members of the cast of 1956's 'Moby Dick.' Gregory Peck ("Capt. Ahab") is in the stovepipe hat.

Fox Photos/Getty Images
Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress in shot for 'Casino Royale' i i

hide captionPeter Sellers and Ursula Andress in a publicity still for a film you might not associate with Huston: 'Casino Royale.'

Columbia Tristar/Getty Images
Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress in shot for 'Casino Royale'

Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress in a publicity still for a film you might not associate with Huston: 'Casino Royale.'

Columbia Tristar/Getty Images
Tim Holt and Humphrey Bogart listen to Walter Huston -- the director's father. i i

hide captionTim Holt and Humphrey Bogart listen to Walter Huston — the director's father — in a scene from 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.'

Warner Brothers/Getty Images
Tim Holt and Humphrey Bogart listen to Walter Huston -- the director's father.

Tim Holt and Humphrey Bogart listen to Walter Huston — the director's father — in a scene from 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.'

Warner Brothers/Getty Images

John Huston wrote or adapted the screenplays for many of the films he directed, and the best ones are full of crackling dialogue and quotable quips. Can you match the quotes below to this list of movies directed by Huston?

A. "If I'm going to be alone, I want to be by myself."

HINT: The line is delivered by a woman, not a hard-boiled detective.

B. "I understand you have taken exception to my calling you whores. I'm sorry. I apologize. I ask you to note that I did not call you callous-ass strumpets, fornicatresses, or low-born gutter sluts. But I did say "whores." No escaping that. And for that slip of the tongue, I apologize."

HINT: Another great line from the movie is "The last time that bear ate a lawyer, he had the runs for thirty-three days."

C. "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges."

HINT: The speaker's name is "Gold Hat"

D. "After living in the USA for more than thirty-five years they called me an undesirable alien. Me. Johnny Rocco. Like I was a dirty Red or something!"

HINT: The speaker is Edward G. Robinson.

E. "I hope they don't hang you, precious, by that sweet neck. Yes, angel, I'm gonna send you over. The chances are you'll get off with life. That means if you're a good girl, you'll be out in 20 years. I'll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I'll always remember you."

HINT: The target of the comment is Mary Astor.

F. "Well I ain't sorry for you no more, ya crazy, psalm-singing, skinny old maid!"

HINT: Oscar-winner.

G. "I'll follow him around the Horn, and around the Norway maelstrom, and around perdition's flames before I give him up."

HINT: The line is from an adapted screenplay.

H. "Do I ice her? Do I marry her?"

HINT: Daughter Anjelica Huston won the Oscar for this film.

I. "Now listen to me you benighted muckers. We're going to teach you soldiering. The world's noblest profession. When we're done with you, you'll be able to slaughter your enemies like civilized men."

HINT: Christopher Plummer plays a noted writer in this film. But this is not his line.

J. "Experience has taught me never to trust a policeman. Just when you think one's all right, he turns legit." Sam Jaffe as "Doc Riedenschneider"

HINT: The speaker is Sam Jaffe.

EXTRA HINT: Marilyn Monroe had a bit part in this film.

K. "You can't shoot me! I have a very low threshold of death. My doctor says I can't have bullets enter my body at any time."

HINT: The cast includes William Holden, George Raft and Orson Welles... none of whom deliver this line.

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