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The Hustons Paperback – March, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starting with Walter (1884-1960), peaking with John (1906-1987) and continuing with Anjelica (born 1951), three generations of Oscar-winning Hustons have enriched American theater and films. In this anecdotal composite biography, based on talks with family members, friends and associates, Grobel ( Conversations with Capote ) follows the careers of all the Hustons but focuses on John. His research is the most impressive aspect of this massive volume, and he is even-handed, if undiscriminating. No detail is too insignificant for inclusion; no single reaction to an event or version of a story will do if many are available. Thus, the reader comes away with myriad impressions of John's parents, five wives, numerous mistresses, several children, in-laws and paramours. But as Edna O'Brien observes here, although he was a man "whom women had been in love with all his life," he was anxious and sadistic and felt that "the biggest unhappiness in his life had been caused by women." John Huston bestrides this book like a colossus, but after 812 pages he remains a mystery. Photos. BOMC and Movie Entertainment Book Club alternates.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

An ambitious family biography, embracing actor Walter, his writer-director-actor son John, and John's three children, actress Anjelica, writer Tony, and director Danny. The focus is on John, who over the last three years of his life granted extensive interviews to the author. By including Walter (and his redoubtable wife, Rhea Gore), we get important glimpses into John's character. And that character is endlessly fascinating. Alternately charming and cruel, John was the ultimate director, manipulating people on and off a set. The stories behind his famed films ( The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen ) are here, but perhaps more revealing are the accounts of the "failures," such as Freud or The Red Badge of Courage . And the portraits of his children attempting to deal with such a dominating father are touching.
- Thomas Wiener, formerly with "American Film," Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 872 pages
  • Publisher: Cooper Square Press; Updated Edition edition (March 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815410263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815410263
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,883,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lawrence Grobel is a freelance writer who has written 18 books and for numerous national magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Newsday, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Reader's Digest, American Way, Parade, Details, TV Guide, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Penthouse, Diversion, Writer's Digest, and AARP. He has been a contributing editor at Playboy, Movieline, Hollywood Life, Autograph, New Zealand's World, Bulgaria's Ego, and Poland's Trendy magazines. Playboy called him "the interviewer's interviewer" after his interview with Marlon Brando for their 25th anniversary issue; he subsequently made news as the result of his controversial interviews with Gov. Jesse Ventura and former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight. Between 1968-71 he taught in the Peace Corps at the Ghana Institute of Journalism in West Africa. He created the MFA in Professional Writing program for Antioch University in 1977 and served as its Director for three years. In 1981 he received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for fiction. His 1985 book Conversations with Capote received a PEN Special Achievement award and reached the top of several bestseller lists. Grobel's books include: Conversations with Capote; The Hustons; Conversations with Brando; Talking with Michener; Above the Line: Conversations About the Movies; Endangered Species: Writers Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives; Climbing Higher with Montel Williams (a N.Y. Times bestseller and Publisher's Weekly Best Book in 2004); The Art of the Interview: Lessons from a Master of the Craft (also a Publisher's Weekly Best Book in 2004); Al Pacino: In Conversation with Lawrence Grobel (French Film Critics Guild Award for Best International Book of 2009); Conversations with Robert Evans; The Book of Shmoga (a yoga satire); Icons (a collection of celebrity profiles); Salomaybe, Baby! Al Pacino's 5 Year Obsession with Wilde Salome; a memoir, You Show Me Yours; Madonna Paints a Mustache, a book of celebrity poems; and the novels Catch a Fallen Star and Begin Again Finnegan. Joyce Carol Oates has called him "the Mozart of interviewers" and J.P. Donleavy has called him "the most intelligent interviewer in the United States." From 2001--2011 he taught seminars on The Art of the Interview, The Literature of Journalism, Articles to Film, and Autobiography & the Memoir at UCLA. In 2012 he appeared as himself in Al Pacino's film Wilde Salome and will also appear in Shane Salerno's film about J.D. Salinger. He is married to artist and textile designer Hiromi Oda and they have two daughters, Maya and Hana. His blog, books and articles can be found on his website:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By quillet on January 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read "The Hustons" several years ago and am now rereading it. Sure, it's about many of the brightest stars in Hollywood, and John Huston is a giant among them, but it's also very much about the creative process. Anyone who is interested in writing, directing, acting, or any other of the creative roles in the making of a film should read this book. It is thoroughly researched and brilliantly written. Go on, you'll find it inspiring.

Congratulations, Lawrence Grobel, on this great work. Why hasn't it become a movie too? Hello, Hollywood?
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Brown on October 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Hollywood (and much of the United States, for that matter) was built by powerful families. The Zaibatsus of early Hollywood -- the Barrymores, the Zanucks, the Gish sisters -- gave us some of the finest films ever made, as well as a template for film production that has survived for eighty years.
Add to this list the Hustons. In many ways, they represent the last half of the Twentieth century in Hollywood. This book brilliantly captures the power, fame, and scandals in which the Huston's were involved. The prose is informative without sacrificing readability, and the book is thoroughly researched. I recommend it for anyone interested in the Hollywood Studio System and how it changed after the 1940s. Fantastic reading on an important subject.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chris Ward VINE VOICE on October 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
Though the title is "The Hustons," this is really John Huston's book. Walter and Angelica are bookends to the wild brilliance and debauchery that was John Huston's improbable life. It's fitting that he receive the lion's share: as remarkable an actor as Walter was, and as talented as Angelica continues to be, the son and father in this dynasty is the real story, after all. Grobel digs deep and speaks to as many people as he can to evince a towering portrait of a writer/director/actor who ranks at the top of the Hollywood pantheon, and must surely also rank at the top of the list for unmitigated son-of-a-bitchery of all kinds. His behavior to the women in his life is almost pathologically cruel on uncountable occasions-- and surprisingly tender at times, if only sporadically. There's nobility here, but it struggles to rise above the utter misogyny of his many marriages and unceasing affairs. He was one of a kind, and this book captures him-- it's a fascinating behind-the-scenes guide to his many fine films as well. This is likely the most complete portrait we'll get, and it makes for compelling reading.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By celeste huston on January 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
was married to Mr Huston for 3 years..this biograohy is satisfactory and Larry Grobel a good writer on alll his works
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By Francie Nolan on November 13, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As other people have noted, this book is primarily about John Huston and, in that respect, it is very well done. I feel like I know exactly what he was like. That may be false, but Huston's life is so articulately detailed and well-chronicled here, that's the feeling I came away with. I really enjoyed reading this.

For me, there was a little too much of reviews of Huston's movies and the difficulties in getting projects financed and written, etc. I just didn't find it as interesting as Huston's big personality and life of adventure. He reminded me of Hemingway in so many ways.

I loved reading about how all the actors making The Maltese Falcon were so close, feeling they were a part of something new and wonderful and important. That was cool. I also loved reading about the making of The African Queen.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So far, it's wonderful. What a research job by Grobel, who's a fine writer. He keeps your interest while filling your head with backstage stories and family lore. It's a huge book, a bit cumbersome to hold but still, fascinating to read.
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