John Huston: A Centennial Tribute

Friday, September 29 - Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Series IllustrationThere are no less than 8 world-class film directors celebrating their centennials this year (the list includes Luchino Visconti, Billy Wilder, and Otto Preminger) but few directors have left as lasting a legacy as John Huston. His prowess and bravado as a filmmaker are largely unmatched in the history of American cinema - only cult figures such as Sam Fuller and Nic Ray come close to being his equals as hard-living, hard-nosed iconoclasts. His range as a director is remarkable - from gritty noirs like THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, to epic adventures like THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, to gothic melodrama like THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, to quirky projects like THE LIST OF ADRIAN MESSENGER. And, on a note closer to home, his legendary collaborations with Humphrey Bogart (BEAT THE DEVIL, THE MALTESE FALCON, TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, etc) have as much to do with the Brattle's legacy as Casablanca. In short, Huston certainly ranks close to Orson Welles as one of the most important American directors and, thus, simply cannot be ignored on the occasion of his 100th birthday!

» Review: "Reflections on a golden filmmaker: John Huston at the Brattle" by Steve Vineberg, The Boston Phoenix


Fri 9/29 at 7:15 • Sat 9/30 at 2:45, 7:45

Series IllustrationDouble Feature w/THE ASPHALT JUNGLE
(1941) dir John Huston w/Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, Elisha Cook Jr. [101 min]

In arguably one of the greatest film noirs of all time, Humphrey Bogart stars as famed San Francisco gumshoe Sam Spade. Based on the 1929 Dashiell Hammett pulp novel, Bogart plays Spade as a hard-boiled, cynical anti-hero who cleverly navigates a web of famed villains and criminals. In classic noir fashion Spade is approached by a beautiful woman (Astor) whose request for a detective soon embroils him in a criminal underworld in which nothing is what it seems.

» Brattle Theatre Film Notes: THE MALTESE FALCON

Fri 9/29 at 5:00, 9:30 • Sat 9/30 at 5:00

Series IllustrationDouble Feature w/THE MALTESE FALCON
(1950) dir John Huston w/Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, Marilyn Monroe [112 min]

In Huston's famed Academy Award nominated heist film, a group of down-on-their-luck, urban misfits band together in hopes of pulling off an elaborate jewelry store robbery. What begins as a promising scheme soon slip-slides into duplicitous plotting and failure. Huston and screenwriter Ben Madow avoid one-dimensional portrayals of the film's gang of criminals, instead infusing them with depth and a painful humanity. Watch for silver screen bombshell Marilyn Monroe in a bit part as Lon's mistress.

» Brattle Theatre Film Notes: THE ASPHALT JUNGLE

Sun 10/1 at 2:15, 7:00 • Mon 10/2 at 7:00

Series IllustrationDouble Feature w/REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE
(1964) dir Huston w/Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, Sue Lyon [125 min]

In this cinematic rendering of a Tennessee Williams play Richard Burton stars as T. Lawrence Shannon, a former minister leading a tour group of Baptist women in Mexico. His journey is soon complicated by his attraction to a seductive teenage girl, played fittingly by famed nymphet Sue Lyon (Lolita). Soon Shannon has commandeered the bus and taken it to a remote Mexican hotel run by the recently widowed Maxine Faulk (Gardner). Before long, a love triangle has arisen between Shannon, the beguiling Faulk, and a sketch artist played by Deborah Kerr.

Sun 10/1 at 4:45, 9:30 • Mon 10/2 at 4:45, 9:30

Series IllustrationDouble Feature w/THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA
(1967) dir Huston w/Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Brian Keith, Julie Harris [108 min]

"Have you ever been collared and dragged out into the street and thrashed by a naked woman?" Adapted from Carson McCullers' novel, REFLECTIONS is a torrid and bizarre affair with Brando as a repressed homosexual army officer and Taylor as his amoral wife who alternately taunts him and takes up with every available man. Shocking in its time and still mindblowing today, this over-the-top Southern gothic features career-high weirdness from the leads and a telling commentary on the cost of repression.

Tue 10/3 at 7:30

Series IllustrationDouble Feature w/BEAT THE DEVIL
(1963) dir Huston w/ George C. Scott, Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra [98 min]

Sort of a stunt film, THE LIST OF ADRIAN MESSENGER features cameos by five stars - each of whom appear in different (supposedly) identity-obscuring disguises. The plot of the film centers on what seems to be a list of people who have been secretly targeted for death and Anthony (Scott) has been tasked with the job of looking into the matter by his friend Adrian Messenger - just before he is blown up on an airplane flight.

Tue 10/3 5:30

Series IllustrationPlease Note: The 9:30 screening of BEAT THE DEVIL has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience. (9/20)
(1953) dir Huston w/Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre [89 min]

Many believe that Casablanca was the movie that started the Bogie cult at the Brattle but, in reality, it was the original founders' affection for this strange, in-joke-laden cult film that kick-started our devotion to Bogie. With Morley standing in for Sidney Greenstreet, Bogie and Lorre poke fun at their onscreen personas as the three vie for a piece of land in Africa that is supposedly packed with uranium. Gloriously over-the-top, BEAT THE DEVIL is as much fun to watch as it seems it was to make.

Fri 10/6 at 7:00 • Sat 10/7 at 2:00, 7:00

Series IllustrationDouble Feature w/THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN
(1975) dir Huston w/Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer [129 min]

It took over 20 years for Huston to make this film but it was well worth the wait. Like Treasure of the Sierra Madre, the film tells the danger of greed, not for money this time but for pure power. Two soldiers-turned-con-artists combine their corrupted morality and military experience to hatch a truly devious plan to become kings of an undiscovered land and "plunder it four ways from Sunday"

"A swashbuckling adventure, pure and simple, and in the hands of a master." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

Fri 10/6 at (4:30) • Sat 10/7 at 4:30

Series IllustrationDouble Feature w/THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
(1972) dir Huston w/Paul Newman, Victoria Principal, Ava Gardner, John Huston, Anthony Perkins, Ned Beatty, Tab Hunter, Stacy Keach, Roddy McDowall, Jacqueline Bisset [120 min]

Sort of the in-bad-taste version of Robert Altman's McCabe And Mrs. Miller, ROY BEAN follows the titular unrepentant outlaw (played with eccentric flair by Newman) as he finds a nice lawless place to settle down… just the right spot to kill off the competition and set himself up as saloon-keeper/judge with his own self-serving set of rules. What follows is an episodic telling of the various tales of this real-life, larger-than-life Western legend.

Sun 10/8 at 2:30, 7:30

Series IllustrationDouble Feature w/THE MISFITS
(1948) dir Huston w/Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt [126 min]

If you have ever wondered what the big deal is about either Bogart or Huston, this film will answer all of your questions! The third feature directed by Huston, MADRE, like many of his other films, tells a story of greed and what will happen to a person once they find the treasure that they have been looking for. In this instance, the treasure is actual gold. Bogart is stupefying as a maddened prospector, but no more so than Walter Huston (John's father) who plays a hysterical mountain man who attempts to warn the younger men of the dangers of gold. (Watch for a cameo by John Huston himself at the beginning of the film.)

Sun 10/8 at 5:00

Series IllustrationDouble Feature w/TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE
(1961) dir Huston w/Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Eli Wallach [124 min]

A highlight in the careers of all involved, this classic stands especially as a testament to the true talent of Monroe, who is too often dismissed as a sex-pot but here gives a heartfelt performance. After a quickie divorce, Roslyn (Monroe) hooks up with a trio of cowboys who are headed out to search for wild horses. When all three fall for her (who wouldn't?) and she discovers the true purpose of the horse hunt, sparks begin to fly. One of those great confluences of talent that Huston so often seemed to helm, THE MISFITS crackles with intensity in its script, acting and direction

Mon 10/9 at 1:00, 7:30

Series IllustrationDouble Feature w/THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
(1956) dir Huston w/Gregory Peck, Richard Basehart [116 min]

In this dramatic, high seas adventure Huston adapts the famed Herman Melville novel for the screen. With screen legend Gregory Peck in the role of the obsessive Captain Ahab, the film chronicles the captain's quest to avenge his lost leg. Screenwriter Ray Bradbury remained true to his complex source text and abandoned Hollywood staples like romance in favor of presenting this darkly chilling tale of obsession and insanity. Other stand out performances include a magnetic cameo from Orson Welles.

Mon 10/9 at 3:30, 10:00

Series IllustrationDouble Feature w/MOBY DICK
(1951) dir Huston w/Audie Murphy [69 min]

A battle all the way for the director, Huston's imagining of the classic Civil War novel is still a sterling achievement in his career. A young recruit in the Union army (Murphy) is confronted with the anticipation, actuality and aftermath of battle. This was a pet project for Huston but his full vision was never realized on screen - the film was unfairly butchered by the studio before release. Still, despite its truncated nature, RAD BADGE OF COURAGE is true to the spirit of Stephen Crane's novel and features a surprisingly complex performance by Murphy (an actual WWII veteran).

Tue 10/10 at 5:15, 7:30, 9:45

Series Illustration(ADDED SHOWTIMES)
Double Feature w/UNDER THE VOLCANO
(1972) dir Huston w/Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges [100 min]

Among the more lauded of Huston's later films, FAT CITY follows two boxers in the washed-up town of Stockton, CA. Keach plays an end-of-career fighter who might just have one more bout in him, Bridges is his younger friend at the beginning of a career that will probably go nowhere. FAT CITY is remarkably low-key. This is not a bombastic boxing flick, nor is it an underdog makes good tale, this is pretty much just the way it is in some parts of this country - dirty and worn-out but still filled with opportunities for small happinesses and victories no matter how understated they might be.

Tue 10/10 at 5:15, 9:45

Double Feature w/FAT CITY
(1984) dir Huston w/Albert Finney, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Andrews [112 min]

Huston, in one of his last projects, brings to vivid life Malcolm Lowry's complex novel of an alcoholic British ex-consul living in Mexico on the eve of WWII. The great Albert Finney plays the consul who, during a Day Of The Dead celebration, is confronted by both his ex-wife and his worldly brother. Largely overlooked, UNDER THE VOLCANO features, according to Roger Ebert, "the best drunk performance I've ever seen in a film." Finney's performance is indeed remarkable and, if you're a fan or even if you have only ever seen him in Annie or Erin Brokovich, you owe it to yourself to see this film.

©The Brattle Film Foundation. All rights reserved worldwide. The Brattle Film Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit, supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.