Biography of John Huston

John Huston was a celebrated American film director, known for his work on such films as The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Asphalt Jungle, The African Queen, The Misfits, and The Man Who Would Be King. He directed 41 films over the course of his career. With a background in visual art, Huston was known as an artful and visual director, renowned for his ability to perfect shots during filming, rather than in post -production. In addition to his career as a director, he was also an accomplished writer and actor as well.

Huston was born in Missouri to a vaudeville actor and a sports editor, and was inspired to enter show business while watching his father's acting career. While riding as an honorary member of the Mexican cavalry, Huston began to write, writing a play and selling a few stories to American Mercury, a popular magazine at the time. He then began working at Universal in the script department, where his father had begun working as an actor, but floundered as a writer on his first try. He would later go on to co-write the films Jezebel and Sergeant York.

Huston's first directing job was The Maltese Falcon, an adaptation he chose himself in spite of it having been made into an unsuccessful film a few years earlier. The film is considered by many critics to be the best detective film of all time, and it was only Huston's debut. Later he would direct The Treasure of Sierra Madre, winning Oscars for both writing and directing. Throughout his career he was celebrated for his risk-taking, directing hits and flops in equal measure, with equal gusto.

Huston was married 5 times. His daughter, Angelica Huston, became a successful actress in her own right, winning an Oscar for her role in his film Prizzi's Honor. In Huston's 1987 obituary in The New York Times, Peter B. Flint wrote, "The best Huston films have lean, fast-paced scripts and vibrant plots and characterizations, and many of them deal ironically with vanity, avarice and unfulfilled quests. In them, nonconformists and misfits brave danger fatalistically in a world where women are often peripheral."

Study Guides on Works by John Huston

Released in 1951, The African Queen is often considered the crowning achievement of director John Huston and finally brought star Humphrey Bogart his long-overdue Oscar for Best Actor. The film is an adaptation of the 1935 novel by noted writer C....