John Huston


John Marcellus Huston (August 5, 1906 – August 28, 1987) was an American film director, screenwriter, actor, and visual artist. Huston was a citizen of the United States by birth but renounced U.S. citizenship to become an Irish citizen and resident in 1964. He later returned to the United States, where he lived the rest of his life. He wrote the screenplays for most of the 37 feature films he directed, many of which are today considered classics: The Maltese Falcon (1941), his directorial debut and first collaboration with Humphrey Bogart; The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), with Bogart, his father Walter Huston (who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), Tom Holt, and Bruce Bennett; Key Largo (1948), with Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, and Claire Trevor (who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress); The Asphalt Jungle (1950), with Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, and John McIntire, and Marilyn Monroe; The African Queen (1951), with Bogart (who won an Academy Award for Best Actor); and Katharine Hepburn; The Misfits (1961), with Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe; Fat City (1972), with Stacey Keach, Jeff Bridges, and Susan Tyrrell; The Man Who Would Be King (1975), with Sean Connery and Michael Caine; and Prizzi’s Honor (1985), with Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner, Robert Loggia, William Hickey, and his daughter Anjelica Huston (who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress). During his 46-year career, Huston received 15 Academy Award nominations, winning twice.

In his early years, Huston studied and worked as a fine art painter in Paris. He explored the visual aspects of his films throughout his career, sketching each scene on paper beforehand, then carefully framing his characters during the shooting. While most directors rely on post-production editing to shape their final work, Huston instead created his films while they were being shot, with little editing needed. Other notable films include The Unforgiven (1960), with Burt Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn, Audie Murphy, Lillian Gish, and John Saxon; The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), with Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra, and George C. Scott; Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando (Harvey Keitel made his film debut in an uncredited role), The Kremlin Letter (1970), with Richard Boone, Orson Welles, Max von Sydow, Bibi Andersson, Patrick O’Neal, and George Sanders; The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), with Paul Newman, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Perkins, and Victoria Principle.

Some of Huston’s films were adaptations of important novels, often depicting an “heroic quest,” as in Moby Dick, or The Red Badge of Courage. In many films, different groups of people, while struggling toward a common goal, would become doomed, forming “destructive alliances,” giving the films a dramatic and visual tension. Many of his films involved themes such as religion, meaning, truth, freedom, psychology, colonialism, and war. Huston has been referred to as “a titan”, “a rebel”, and a “renaissance man” in the Hollywood film industry. Author Ian Freer describes him as “cinema’s Ernest Hemingway”—a filmmaker who was “never afraid to tackle tough issues head on.”

While he had done some stage acting in his youth, and had occasionally cast himself in bit parts in his own films, he primarily worked behind the camera until Otto Preminger cast him in the title role for The Cardinal (1963), with Tom Tryon, Romy Schneider, Dorothy Gish, and Maggie McNamara; for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. He continued to take prominent supporting roles for the next two decades, including Roman Polanski‘s Chinatown (1974), with Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Hillerman, Perry Lopez, and Burt Young; and he leant his booming baritone voice as a voice actor and narrator to a number of prominent films.

Other notable acting roles include Candy (1968), with Charles Aznavour, Brando, Richard Burton, James Coburn, Walter Matthau, and Ringo Starr; Myra Breckinridge (1970), with Raquel Welch, Breakout (1975), with Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, Robert Duvall, Sheree North, and Randy Quaid; The Wind and the Lion (1975), with Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, and Brian Keith; Tentacles (1977), with Shelley Winters, Bo Hopkins, and Henry Fonda; Angela (1977), with Sophia Loren and Steve Railsback; The Visitor (1979), with Shelley Winters, Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford, and Sam Peckinpah; Winter Kills (1979), with Jeff Bridges, Perkins, Eli Wallach, Richard Boone, Toshirō Mifune, Sterling Hayden, Dorothy Malone, Belinda Bauer, Ralph Meeker, Elizabeth Taylor, Berry Berenson and Susan Walden; and Lovesick (1983), with Dudley Moore, Elizabeth McGovern, and Alec Guinness.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)


  • The Storm (1930) – directed by William Wyler – co-writer, uncredited extra
  • A House Divided (1931) – directed by William Wyler – co-writer
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) directed by Robert Florey – additional dialogue
  • Law and Order (1932) – directed by Edward L. Cahn – co-writer
  • Death Drives Through (1935) – directed by Edward L. Cahn – co-writer
  • It Happened in Paris (1935) – directed by Carol Reed – co-writer
  • The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938) – directed by Anatole Litvak – co-writer
  • Jezebel (1938) – directed by William Wyler – co-writer
  • Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet (1940) – directed by William Dieterle – co-writer
  • High Sierra (1941) – directed by Raoul Walsh – co-writer
  • The Maltese Falcon (1941)** – director, writer
  • Sergeant York (1941) – directed by Howard Hawks – co-writer
  • In This Our Life (1942) – director
  • Across the Pacific (1942) – director
  • The Killer’s (1946) – directed by Robert Siodmak – co-writer
  • The Three Strangers (1946) – directed by Jean Negulesco – co-writer
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)** – director, writer, uncredited actor
  • Key Largo (1948) – director, co-writer
  • We Were Strangers (1948) – director, co-writer, uncredited actor
  • The Asphalt Jungle (1950) – director, co-writer
  • The Red Badge of Courage (1951) – director, co-writer, uncredited actor
  • The African Queen (1951) – director, co-writer
  • Moulin Rouge (1952) – director, co-writer
  • Beat the Devil (1953) – director, co-writer
  • Moby Dick (1956) – director, co-writer, uncredited actor
  • Heaven Knows Mr. Allison (1957) – director, co-writer
  • The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958) – director
  • The Roots of Heaven (1958) – director
  • The Unforgiven (1960) – director
  • The Misfits (1960) – director, uncredited actor
  • Freud (1962) – director, uncredited narrator
  • The List of Adrian Messenger (1963) – director, uncredited actor
  • The Night of the Iguana (1964) – director, co-writer
  • The Bible (1966) – director, actor, narrator
  • Reflections in the Golden Eye (1967) – director
  • Casino Royale (1967) – directed with Ken Hughes, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish, & Val Guest – actor
  • Sinful Davey (1969) – director
  • A Walk with Love and Death (1969) – director, actor
  • The Kremlin Letter (1970) – director, co-writer
  • Fat City (1972) – director
  • The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) – director, actor
  • The Mackintosh Man (1973) – director
  • The Man Who Would Be King (1975) – director, co-writer
  • Independence (1976) – director – docudrama short
  • Wise Blood (1979) – director, actor
  • Phobia (1980) – director
  • Let There Be Light (1980) – director – documentary
  • Victory (1981) – director
  • Annie (1982) – director, uncredited actor
  • Under the Volcano (1984) – director
  • Prizzi’s Honor (1985) – director
  • The Dead (1987) – director
  • Mr. North (1988) – directed by Danny Huston – co-writer


  • The Shakedown (1929) – directed by William Wyler – uncredited extra
  • Hell’s Heroes (1929) – directed by William Wyler – uncredited extra
  • The Cardinal (1963) – directed by Otto Preminger
  • The Legend of Marilyn Monroe (1963) – directed by Terry Sanders – narrator – documentary
  • Candy (1968) – directed by Christian Marquand
  • De Sade (1969) – directed by Cy Endfield
  • Myra Breckinridge (1970) – directed by Michael Sarne
  • The Bridge in the Jungle (1971) – directed by Pancho Kohner
  • The Deserter (1971) – directed by Burt Kennedy
  • Man in the Wilderness (1971) – directed by Richard C. Sarafian
  • Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) – directed by J. Lee Thompson
  • Chinatown (1974) – directed by Roman Polanski
  • Breakout (1975) – directed by Tom Gries
  • The Wind and the Lion (1975) – directed by John Milius
  • Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976) – directed by Alvin Sapinsley – TV movie
  • The Rhinemann Exchange (1977) – directed by Burt Kennedy – miniseries
  • Tentacles (1977) – directed by Ovidio G. Assonitis
  • Angela (1977) – directed by Boris Sagal
  • The Hobbit (1977) – directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. & Jules Bass – TV movie
  • The Greatest Battle (1978) – directed by Umberto Lenzi
  • The Bermuda Triangle (1978) – directed by René Cardona Jr.
  • The Word (1979) – directed by Richard Lang – miniseries
  • The Visitor (1979) – directed by Giulio Paradisi (as Michael J. Paradise)
  • Winter Kills (1979) – directed by William Richert
  • Jaguar Lives! (1979) – directed by Ernest Pintoff
  • The Return of the King (1980) – directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. & Jules Bass – TV movie
  • Head On (1980) – directed by Michael Grant
  • Cannery Row (1982) – directed by David S. Ward – narrator
  • Lovesick (1983) – directed by Marshall Brickman
  • A Minor Miracle (1983) – directed by Terrell Tannen
  • Epic (1985) – directed by Yoram Gross – narrator
  • The Black Cauldron (1985) – directed by Ted Berman & Richard Rich – narrator
  • Momo (1986) – directed by Johannes Schaaf
  • Mr. Corbett’s Ghost (1987) – directed by Danny Huston – TV movie
  • The Other Side of the Wind (2018) – directed by Orson Welles – released posthumously, scenes filmed 1974-1975