John Huston

1941
The Maltese Falcon 95
[ The first collaboration between John Huston and Humphrey Bogart (who also worked together on other brilliant films like “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and “The African Queen”) is also Huston’s first picture and, by many accounts, the first film noir. The opening scroll and its mentions of Knight Templars and pirates having been involved with the titular priceless token instantly grabs your attention, the opening scene with private dick Sam Spade rolling a cigarette then meeting with a female client quickly seals the deal, then the twists start unrolling like wildfire and there’s no turning back. The smoky B&W cinematography, the moody score, the hard-boiled dialogue, the femme fatale (“What else is there that I can buy you with?”), the quirky supporting performances by Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet (who both turned up again the next year with Bogie in “Casablanca”, probably not coincidentally) and the very Bogartitude of it all are simply intoxicating. It’s a cliché to say that they don’t make them like this anymore, but damn! Every single beat of this yarn is awesome, there’s none of the filler and nonsense that make up so many of the movies today. Sam Spade is one of the coolest characters ever – as the Fat Man tells him at one point, “There’s never any telling what you’ll say or do next, except that it’s bound to be something astonishing.” ]1942
In This Our Life

Across the Pacific

1943
Report from the Aleutians

1945
The Battle of San Pietro

1946
Let There Be Light

1948
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 89
[ Humphrey Bogart is riveting as a down-on-his-luck American in Mexico who takes on prospecting with fellow bum Tim Holt and old-timer Walter Huston. They must face bandits, exhaustion and the paranoid fear of being robbed of one’s share by the others. This is classic studio moviemaking, well-oiled entertainment that never misses a beat but also has a thing or two to say about the darker chambers of the human heart. ]

Key Largo

1949
We Were Strangers

1950
The Asphalt Jungle 65
[ Herr Doctor’s got a plan for a caper, but he needs a financier, a box man, a getaway driver and a hooligan. And when you’re doing a heist, the most people get involved, the most double-crosses and finking are likely to happen. Like “The Maltese Falcon”, Huston’s earlier film noir, “The Asphalt Jungle” has stark B&W cinematography, snappy dialogue, tough guys and knockout dames (including a young Marilyn Monroe), but it sorely lacks a Bogart-strong leading man. Nonetheless, this twisted and morally ambiguous yarn about the greed and treachery of men kept me engrossed. ]

1951
The Red Badge of Courage

The African Queen 90
[ Movie star heaven, with Humphrey Bogart doing his gruff man’s man boat captain against Katherine Hepburn’s sophisticated English lady. Laughs, thrills and sensuality ensue as the two come across white water rapids, wild animals and German soldiers. “I never dreamed a mere physical experience could be so stimulating!” ]

1953
Moulin Rouge

Beat the Devil

1956
Moby Dick

1957
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

1958
The Barbarian and the Geisha

The Roots of Heaven

1960
The Unforgiven

The Misfits

1962
Freud: The Secret Passion

1963
The List of Adrian Messenger

1964
The Night of the Iguana

1966
The Bible: In The Beginning

1967
Reflections in a Golden Eye 52
[ This is an odd flick. Ultimately sort of a psycho-sexual thriller, for the longest time, it’s not quite clear what the hell it’s about. Taking place on an army base, it deals with Major Penderton (Marlon Brando), his shameless hussy of a wife (Elizabeth Taylor) and her lover (Brian Keith), who’s also a military officer and married to a depressive woman (Julie Harris)… Oh, and then there’s the latter’s effete Filipino houseboy (Zorro David) and a mysterious enlisted man (Robert Forster in his very first role) who keeps stalking around the Major’s house and in the surrounding woods, often in the nude (!)… Generally well crafted but marred by frequent false notes, featuring mostly good but hardly unforgettable performances, this adaptation of a 1941 Carson McCullers novel suffers from flirting with then risqué material (adultery, homosexuality, voyeurism, fetishism, etc.) but not really following through with it. Brando, Taylor and Forster kept me engrossed enough, though, as did the abundant horseback riding scenes, especially the frantic one in which the Major rides his wife’s white stallion. ]

Casino Royale 21
[ Whoaaaa, what a mess! Yeah, let’s make a James Bond movie with 8 writers, 5 directors (including Huston) and 3 actors alternately playing Bond. First at the bat is David Niven, stuttering his way through roomfuls of Scottish babes to major boredom. Then Woody Allen has an amusing enough coupla scenes and Peter Sellers does his thing all right, but nothing really connects. Nowhere near as well as anything in the “Austin Powers” trilogy, that’s for sure. I did get a kick out of watching Orson Welles (doing magic tricks!) as Le Chiffre, though. ]

1969
Sinful Davey

A Walk with Love and Death

1970
The Kremlin Letter

1972
Fat City

The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

1973
The Mackintosh Man

1975
The Man Who Would Be King

1979
Wise Blood

1980
Phobia

1981
Victory 40
[ I saw the DVD case and I was like, no way, this ain’t for real, this is one of those fake movies people remember Troy McClure from: “Leper in the Backfield”, “Locker Room Towel Fight: The Blinding of Larry Driscoll”… And here we have “Victory”, about a soccer match in occupied Paris between Nazi all-stars and Allied POWs, starring Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, Pelé, Max Von Sydow and even French Canadian actress Carole Laure! The actual film is a routine sports flick crossed with World War II escape clichés, but it makes for an amusing curiosity. ]

1982
Annie

1984
Under the Volcano

1985
Prizzi’s Honor

1987
The Dead