‘John Huston and the Dubliners” is a valentine to the late director and a relatively standard production film about his making of ”The Dead.” Much time is devoted to the actors’ understandably admiring comments about Mr. Huston, and to the disposition of the prop department’s fake snow. The film has the potential to seem ordinary, but it becomes touched with magic whenever the director makes his presence felt. Mr. Huston displays his characteristic gallantry and his keen attention to seemingly unimportant touches (”Don’t worry about what you say, just keep talking,” he tells one actor, and gives precise instructions for reading the line ”Would you please pass the celery?”). He describes ”The Dead” as ”lacework,” and this film makes the aptness of that description very clear.
When one player complains jokingly that ”the most action we’ve had is breaking a wishbone,” Mr. Huston replies: ”Yes, that’s true. But it depends what your idea of action is.” Lilyan Sievernich’s portrait of the artist reveals how very subtle Mr. Huston’s own such ideas could be.