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An Open Book Paperback – March 22, 1994

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From Library Journal

Famous as a film director par excellence, Huston had a private life that was often as adventurous-and tumultuous-as one of his celluloid creations. Though LJ's reviewer found the book less candid than the title suggests, it will still raise an eyebrow or two and provides "more material for film historians to chew on than any other book about this fascinating man" (LJ 9/1/80).
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Â"Hugely entertaining.Â" -- Newark Star-Ledger, 8/14/06

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st edition (March 22, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306805731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306805738
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Chris bct on December 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
Not only has he been one of my favorite directors over the years, he did some great acting spots, particularly in Chinatown. Then to have this book to read is truely a window into his life. He gives one bit of advice. Has to do with smoking, I won't spoil it for you. Witty guy. I think we tend to forget that films are visual/written/audio stories that several people have put together. A piece of art, typically. And the director is the eye of the hurricane, piecing it all together, in his (her) vision. This book gives us a look into both his private life, one which the citizen today likely has little idea about, as well as numerous stories about various Hollywood people he worked with over the decades. I could barely put this book down. He's got a writing style that's so comfortable, so enjoyable to read, well, maybe it was more fun for me because, in my mind I heard his resonate speaking voice reading the whole book like one on tape by the author. There's never been a director like him that I'm aware of, someone who did not have his own style so much as cull the story right out of the block of stone so to speak. Each of the great films he did has their own vision, their own look. A great accomplishment for a real director who mastered his craft. I think of him as a man's man and this book keeps that sense alive. Sure am glad he took the time to write it because it's a lot of fun to explore his life with him. Unique places, people and times in American cinematic history, and he was there, right in the midst of it all.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Crown on November 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
John Huston's autobiography 'An Open Book' was written while the author - a film director whose life spanned the period from the earliest days of Hollywood to his eventual death in 1987 - was living, in old age, as something of a recluse in Mexico.

From this quiet, remote, idyllic spot he tells - as he sees it - the story of his own life and the many experiences and fotuitous friendships and relationships which he believes had been important in making him the way he was.

It goes back as far as he can go into his own ancestry and the origin of his own name - Huston. It goes deep into the impressions of his own family that he formed as a child and refined as he grew up.

He shares with us his many mistakes, as well as the background to some of his greatest successes - which nominally, are his many great films.

But somehow more important than this is the way he approaches his life and how he tells his own story. At one point he is discussing what actually constitutes the 'style' of a writer and what makes it distinctive. He concludes that what is called a writer's style is straightforwardly a unique artefact of how that person thinks and feels about their life and experience.

This book is full of a polished but intimate candour that illuminates and compliments his long and successful career in film
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James Cary Bass on October 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
I bought this book originally in the early 1980s right after it was printed and I have re-read it every year and a half or so since and find new things every time. The writing is just fantastic; each episode in his life is constructed like a story. I have read where people think it is a whitewash, but actually he touches on everything discreetly and without rancor or salaciousness. When I first read it as a young film student he cataloged a string of movies I had barely heard of, mostly because they weren't easily available until now. A conscientious watching of the films he mentions makes for great companions to the book. From our vantage point in time, this book is also a window into a vanished world where the late 19th century was reluctantly becoming the 20th century, and Huston always was searching to find his place in it. Few people live lives now similar to his life then because we don't have the times from which great lives spring like they did back then. Those decades gave rise to Bogart and Hemingway and Picasso and Roosevelt and the countless others because there were no other choices. Dynamic times make dynamic people! Huston constantly improvised, both in life and art, using his unique background and fine literary sensibilities to surf the constantly changing tides of war and economic depression and modernism, and at the same time constantly indulging himself in every way he could possibly conceive. His movies emerged from this mix, at times wise, at others mischievous; some daring, others fantastic. They were always a little ahead of their time or form, and they never consciously talked down nor pandered to their audience. His innovations developed organically.Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By G. Martin on February 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
I can't remember when I enjoyed reading a book so much. I wished that I could read it anew all over again. I've read half dozen Hollywood bios and autos the last 6 months or so and this was hands down the most enjoyable!

I'm really quite surprised to see only two reviews before this one. Afterall, in my mind Huston ranks up there with the very best of American directors and screen writers. His history in the film business dates back to the ''golden era'' of Hollywood. And he knew all the top heads of the studios as well as many of the most talented people in the their related fields.

He is of course my overall favorite director, based on the quality and sheer number of films on his side of the scale. High Sierra [Scrnply], Maltese Falcon, the Big Sleep, Treasure of Sierra Madre, Key Largo just to mention a few of the early ones. And of course his writing of screenplays of the late thirties that anyone will recognize as some of the best of the classics. And his continued writing of movies; with and without directing, far to many to start listing here!

His relating of his life stories as told here is so captivating and so 'dog gone' interesting and funny, that I felt I was listening to a grandfather tell his life story from the front porch of a family home on a Sunday afternoon!

Anyone that likes to read of a Hollywood long gone and about the people in the industry in those days would do just fine in getting a copy of this wonderfully entertaining book, told by one of Hollywoods finest raconteurs! If not the finest!
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