John Huston

John Huston – Key Largo (1948)

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Frank McCloud travels to a run-down hotel on Key Largo to honor the memory of a friend who died bravely in his unit during WW II. His friend’s widow, Nora Temple, and wheelchair bound father, James Temple manage the hotel and receive him warmly, but the three of them soon find themselves virtual prisoners when the hotel is taken over by a mob of gangsters led by Johnny Rocco who hole up there to await the passing of a hurricane. Mr. Temple strongly reviles Rocco but due to his infirmities can only confront him verbally. Having become disillusioned by the violence of war, Frank is reluctant to act, but Rocco’s demeaning treatment of his alcoholic moll, Gaye Dawn, and his complicity in the deaths of some innocent Seminole Indians and a deputy sheriff start to motivate McCloud to overcome his Hamlet-like inaction. Read More »

John Huston – Sinful Davey (1969)

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synopsis

Davey Haggart (John Hurt) wishes to follow his father’s footsteps and become a highway robber. He also wishes to avoid his father’s fate — which was death by hanging at the tender age of 21 after a botched robbery of the Duke of Argyle (Robert Morley). Davey commits a daring robbery in broad daylight with the help of two henchmen (Ronald Fraser and Fidelma Murphy) and heads for the highlands of Scotland to hide out. The local Constable (Nigel Davenport) warns young Davey he will end up just like his father but helps him escape the fate of dancing on the end of a rope. Annie (Pamela Franklin) is the kind-hearted farm girl who tries to make sweet Davey give up a life of crime and settle down. This comedy was taken from the autobiographical diary”The Life Of David Haggart.” Read More »

John Huston – The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

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The Asphalt Jungle is a brilliantly conceived and executed anatomy of a crime — or, as director John Huston and scripter Ben Maddow put it, “a left-handed form of human endeavor.” Recently paroled master criminal Erwin “Doc” Riedenschneider (Sam Jaffe), with funding from crooked attorney Emmerich (Louis Calhern), gathers several crooks together in Cincinnati for a Big Caper. Among those involved are Dix (Sterling Hayden), an impoverished hood who sees the upcoming jewel heist as a means to finance his dream of owning a horse farm. Hunch-backed cafe owner (James Whitmore) is hired on to be the driver for the heist; professional safecracker Louis Ciavelli (Anthony Caruso) assembles the tools of his trade; and a bookie (Marc Lawrence) acts as Emmerich’s go-between. The robbery is pulled off successfully, but an alert night watchman shoots Ciavelli. Corrupt cop (Barry Kelley), angry that his “patsy” (Lawrence) didn’t let him in on the caper, beats the bookie into confessing and fingering the other criminals involved. From this point on, the meticulously planned crime falls apart with the inevitability of a Greek tragedy. Way down on the cast list is Marilyn Monroe in her star-making bit as Emmerich’s sexy “niece”; whenever The Asphalt Jungle would be reissued, Monroe would figure prominently in the print ads as one of the stars. The Asphalt Jungle was based on a novel by the prolific W.R. Burnett, who also wrote Little Caesar and Saint Johnson (the fictionalized life story of Wyatt Earp). — Hal Erickson Read More »