Walter Huston


Walter Thomas Huston (né Houghston; April 5, 1883 – April 7, 1950) was a Canadian actor and singer. He is the patriarch of the four generations of the Huston acting family, including his son John Huston, grandchildren Anjelica Huston, Danny Huston, Allegra Huston, and Jack Huston. The family has produced three generations of Academy Award winners: himself, his son John, and John’s daughter Anjelica. His first major role was portraying the villainous Trampas in Victor Fleming‘s The Virginian (1929), a Western that costars Gary Cooper and Richard Arlen. Some of Huston’s other early sound roles include D.W. Griffith‘s Abraham Lincoln (1930), Lewis Milestone’s Rain (1932), starring Joan Crawford; and Gregory La Cava’s Gabriel Over the White House (1933).
Huston remained busy on stage and screen throughout the 1930s and 1940s, becoming during that period one of America’s most prominent actors. He starred as the title character in the 1934 Broadway adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’s novel Dodsworth as well as in the play’s film version released two years later, directed by William Wyler. For his role as Sam Dodsworth, Huston won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and was Oscar nominated. He performed “September Song” in the original Broadway production of Knickerbocker Holiday (1938). Huston’s recording of “September Song” is heard repeatedly in September Affair (1950), starring Joan Fontaine.

Among several of his contributions to World War II Allied propaganda films, Huston in an uncredited role portrays a military instructor in the short Safeguarding Military Information (1942). That film was produced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and distributed by the War Activities Committee of the Motion Pictures Industry. He, along with Anthony Veiller, is also a narrator in the Why We Fight series of World War II documentaries directed by Frank Capra. He also appeared as Uncle Sam in the propaganda film December 7th (1943), directed by John Ford and Gregg Toland (famed cinematographer, perhaps best known for his work the 1941 Orson Welles film Citizen Kane).

Other films of this period in which he appears are William Dieterle’s The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) as Mr. Scratch Jean Renoir’s Swamp Water (1941), Josef von Sternberg‘s The Shanghai Gesture (1941), starring Gene Tierney; Michael Curtiz‘s Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), starring James Cagney; Howard Hughes’s The Outlaw (1943), Lewis Milestone’s Edge of Darkness (1943), starring Errol Flynn; Curtiz’s Mission to Moscow (1943), Dragon Seed (1944), starring Katharine Hepburn; Joseph L. Mankiewicz‘s Dragonwyk (1946), with Gene Tierney and Vincent Price; and King Vidor‘s Duel in the Sun (1946), starring Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Gregory Peck, and Lillian Gish.

Huston portrayed the character Howard in the 1948 adventure drama The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which was also directed by his son John. He starred alongside Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt (John himself has an uncredited role at the start of the movie). Based on B. Traven’s novel, the film depicts the story of three gold prospectors in 1920s post-revolution Mexico. He won the Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film, while John Huston won the Best Director Academy Award, thus making them the first father and son to win at the same ceremony. His last film is Anthony Mann‘s The Furies (1950) in which he co-stars with Barbara Stanwyck and Wendell Corey. In that Western, Huston’s final line is “There will never be another one like me.”

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • Gentlemen of the Press (1929) – directed by Millard Webb
  • The Lady Lies (1929) – directed by Hobart Henley
  • The Virginian (1929) – directed by Victor Fleming
  • Behind the Make-Up (1930) – directed by Robert Milton – uncredited
  • Abraham Lincoln (1930) – directed by D.W. Griffith
  • The Bad Man (1930) – directed by Clarence G. Badger
  • The Virtuous Sin (1930) – directed by George Cukor & Louis J. Gasnier
  • The Criminal Code (1931) – directed by Howard Hawks
  • The Star Witness (1931) – directed by William A. Wellman
  • The Ruling Voice (1931) – directed by Rowland V. Lee
  • A House Divided (1931) – directed by William Wyler
  • The Woman from Monte Carlo (1932) – directed by Michael Curtiz
  • The Beast of the City (1932) – directed by Charles Brabin
  • Law and Order (1932) – directed by Edward L. Cahn
  • The Wet Parade (1932) – directed by Victor Fleming
  • Night Court (1932) – directed by W.S. Van Dyke
  • American Madness (1932) – directed by Frank Capra
  • Kongo (1932) – directed by William J. Cowen
  • Rain (1932) – directed by Lewis Milestone
  • Gabriel Over the White House (1933) – directed by Gregory La Cava
  • Hell Below (1933) – directed by Jack Conway
  • Storm at Daybreak (1933) – directed by Richard Boleslawski
  • Ann Vickers (1933) – directed by John Cromwell
  • The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933) – directed by W.S. Van Dyke & Howard Hawks (uncredited)
  • Keep ‘Em Rolling (1934) – directed by George Archainbaud
  • Trans-Atlantic Tunnel (1934) – directed by Maurice Elvey
  • Rhodes of Africa (1936) – directed by Berthold Viertel
  • Dodsworth (1936) – directed by William Wyler
  • Of Human Hearts (1938) – directed by Clarence Brown
  • The Light That Failed (1939) – directed by William A. Wellman
  • The Maltese Falcon (1941)** – directed by John Huston – uncredited
  • The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) – William Dieterle – aka All That Money Can Buy
  • Swamp Water (1941) – directed by Jean Renoir
  • The Shanghai Gesture (1941) – directed by Josef von Sternberg
  • Always In My Heart (1942) – directed by Jo Graham
  • In This Our Life (1942) – directed by John Huston – uncredited
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – directed by Michael Curtiz
  • December 7th (1943) – directed by John Ford & Gregg Toland – propaganda film
  • The Outlaw (1943) – directed by Howard Hughes & Howard Hawks (uncredited)
  • Edge of Darkness (1943) – directed by Lewis Milestone
  • Mission to Moscow (1943) – directed by Michael Curtiz
  • The North Star (1943) – directed by Lewis Milestone
  • Dragon Seed (1944) – directed by Harold S. Bucquet & Jack Conway
  • And Then There Were None (1945) – directed by René Clair
  • Dragonwyck (1946) – directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • Duel in the Sun (1946)
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)** – directed by John Huston
  • Summer Holiday (1948) – directed by Rouben Mamoulian
  • The Great Sinner (1949) – directed by Robert Siodmak
  • The Furies (1950) – directed by Anthony Mann