The Huston Family…but mostly Jack Huston

Jack Huston

Any classic or modern movie fan is well aware of the storied history of the Huston Family — Walter Huston, patriarch of the famous Hollywood family, who won an Oscar in 1949 for his role opposite Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre which was directed by his son, John Huston.

John Huston carried forward the mantle for the family as a formidable Hollywood titan during a 50-year career as an actor, writer, and director winning his own Oscars in 1949 for Best Director & Best Screenplay for his work on The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

During John Huston’s storied and illustrious career, he also passed the mantle on to some of his own children including daughter Angelica Huston, who won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 1985 for Prizzi’s Honor, directed by her father, John Huston. To many younger movie-goers, she will forever be known for her role in The Addams Family as the matriarch, Morticia Addams, alongside the late, magnificent actor Raul Julia.

The beautiful & talented Angelica Huston.

 

Danny Huston, son of John Huston, has also carved out quite the career for himself in Hollywood. Although you might not recognize his name immediately, there is absolutely no doubt that you will recognize his face. From his varied roles in films like The Aviator (2004), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and Wonder Woman (2018) to his appearances on numerous television series including Magic City (2012-2013), American Horror Story (2013-2015) and Yellowstone (2018-2019), like so many in his family before him, he has made a name for himself and holds up the long-tradition of Huston excellence.

Versatile & talented, Danny Huston continues to carry the legacy of the Huston Hollywood Royalty mantle in his career.

But, seriously, let’s get to the whole reason I wanted to write this post. I want to introduce you (in case you’ve been living under a rock) to the next generation of the Huston family and his name is Jack Huston.

Jack Huston

 

Strikingly handsome & immensely talented, Jack Huston has been quietly making his way onto the Hollywood scene since 2004. Born in London on December 7, 1982, the second son to father Tony Huston, an actor & writer, and mother Lady Margot Lavinia Cholmondeley, great-grandson to Walter Huston, grandson to John Huston & nephew to both Angelica and Danny Huston, he certainly is walking amongst giants in Hollywood and doing everything he can to continue to grand tradition of excellence tied to his last name.

I first became aware of this brilliant talent on the gripping HBO drama, Boardwalk Empire. If you have yet to watch this show, it is worthwhile for so many reasons, including gorgeous sets, gripping story lines and a plethora of gifted performers. For me, everything about this show is Jack’s heart-wrenching and unforgettable performance as Richard Harrow, a returning World War I veteran who, as a sniper in the US Army, suffered a substantial and life-altering injury to the left side of his face including losing an eye, most of his cheekbone, half of his upper jawbone, being left with significant scarring resulting in his need to wear a Phantom of the Opera-type mask.

Jack Huston as Richard Harrow on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire

Absolutely nothing will prepare you for his stellar performance in this role, so fabulously nuanced and heart-breaking whenever he is on screen, even if his character the main focus of the scene. From his genuine portrayal of the agony and torment Harrow so clearly suffers from, both physically and psychologically, to lighter moments he shares with, seemingly the only friend he has in the world, Jimmy Darmody, played by Michael Pitt.

Of this role, Huston has stated, “You can almost read any emotion through someone’s eyes. Having one eye, that eye has to do double time. [Richard Harrow]’s written so well and it comes so naturally: the pain and the anguish, they’re so deep-rooted inside of me now. I feel like when I put that mask on, I transform.”

Aside from his role on Boardwalk Empire, you might also recognize him from films such as Not Fade Away (2012), Kill Your Darlings (2013), Ben-Hur (2016), and The Irishman (2019).

He is also going to be back on the small screen on September 27, 2020 with the premiere of Season 4 of the FX hit, Fargo (as if I needed any more reasons to love & watch that show!). To be honest, I cannot wait to see him light-up the screen in the new season of Fargo and see him deliver yet another incredible performance. It is time that he is more recognized for his supreme talent and remarkable career thus-far. I, for one, am anxiously awaiting those folks in Hollywood to figure out that Jack Huston isn’t just a name to hearken back to the Hollywood of yesteryear but is a formidable talent in his own right and I endeavor to watch for him in future.

 

Check out some of the films mentioned in this post:

Happy to be blogging again..

It has been nearly NINE months since my last post here and so much has changed in my life and in the lives of all of us due to COVID-19 and with all of the civil and political unrest in our country. Luckily, my immediate circle of family & friends has not been directly impacted by this horrible pandemic in regards to their physical health but I know that mentally & emotionally it is taking its toll on every single one of us across the globe.

My husband & I were scheduled to celebrate our first wedding anniversary with a week long visit at a private villa in Tuscany. I was planning on attending the annual gathering of #MyTribe at the Turner Classic Film Festival in Hollywood during April plus the addition of a few days at Disneyland. I know that each and every one of us has lost something during this time. It might have been a trip, a wedding, a graduation or losing a loved one but we are all suffering loss during this time.

For me, I have been dealing with the loss of one of my favorite things to do…going to the movies. So many movies I was looking forward to this year and so many of them remain unavailable as a result of the necessary closure of movie theaters. A few films have been made available via other platforms such as iTunes, Amazon Prime, Disney+ to name a few. That has been nice but it is still no substitute for the physical activity of going to the movies, sitting in those seats, sharing the experience with others in the theater, eating that delicious bucket of popcorn and sipping some sugary drink from the vat-o-soda cup which they call a medium. Just not the same.

Here at home, I continue to watch at least 1 movie everyday (although it usually turns out to be more like 3 or 4). I have lots to say about the movies I watch, how they affect me as I move through the world, and what I continue to learn from them about myself and other people. I’m back and more committed that ever to sharing all of that with you out there. Maybe together we can get through all of the current turmoil and emerge a little bit better for wear.

Something we decided to do this summer was to create our very own outdoor movie theatre on our deck! You can check out our setup from the picture I included with this post. It has been tremendous fun and I look forward to watching movies with friends and neighbors as we socially distance and redefine the movie-going experience. We opted to go for a headphone system along with our screen and projector so that we could easily enjoy watching without disturbing any of our neighbors. We also decided to stream through our Apple TV, which we already owned, but you can opt to use an iPad, iPhone, Amazon Fire Stick, or whatever you prefer to connect to the outdoor projector.

In working to build our backyard cinema, I discovered that it can be a bit tough and overwhelming without someone to help you who has more experience. I was able to turn to my brother-in-law, Jim, who has worked in live theater settings for much of his life and knows a thing or two about quality, mid-range priced AV equipment. Below I’ve provided some information and links to the products we chose to go with for our backyard cinema and it might just encourage you to build one of your own.

Our backyard movie theater!!

Projector: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Z7FSQHN

Screen: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01B3R7WVS

Headphone System: https://www.schooloutfitters.com/catalog/product_family_info/pfam_id/PFAM44192

Adjustable Projector Stand: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07T9NM5QR

Headphone Adapter (if you wish to use your own Bluetooth headphones; only supports 2 users): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EHSX28M

Expect to hear more from me soon!

Do something kind for yourself. Do something kind for another.

 

Disney+ Dream Job – Video Submission

On October 20, 2019, a family member posted a link to my Facebook page about the Disney+ Dream Job offered by Reviews.org and, needless to say, not only would it be a dream job for me but also THE PERFECT JOB for me. As part of the submission process, I had to create and post a video of myself talking about my favorite Disney film. Well, here is my official submission for the contest…wish me luck!

Just heartbroken…

A few days ago, I was informed that my absolutely favorite classic film streaming service, FilmStruck, was ending. FilmStruck was a critical partner with The Criterion Collection as well as Turner Classic Movies to provide unique and one-of-a-kind access to an enormous catalog of classic films via their streaming service. Since part of my personal mission here is to promote the availability of classic films through streaming services, to purchase, rent or simply enjoy, this comes as a real blow.

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At present, there is no plan, either through Turner Classic Movies or The Criterion Collection, to offer this amazing collection of films through an existing or new streaming service. I have poured over the comments on Twitter, Facebook and other TCM forums for the past few days and know that I am not alone in the utter disappointment and heartbreak I am feeling since this announcement was made public.

No where else was such a magnificent collection of films available to stream for classic movie lovers like myself . Of course, every once in awhile you might stumble across one of them here and there but what FilmStruck provided was unprecedented and it’s absence will create an immense hole for many of its subscribers. Where else could you find an entire collection of Billy Wilder films available for viewing or even the amazing array of Art House films which you might never had even heard of but discovered you really enjoyed? FilmStruck was the best destination for so many classic movie lovers — old, young, new and lifelong. When the service ends on November 29, 2018, I will wander again to find a streaming forum which allows access to an incredible catalog of films — uncut, commercial-free, just as they were meant to be seen. I know that I will not be alone in that quest and, until then, I will continue on my personal crusade to #FreeTheClassics, preserving unparalleled cinema & making more films available for a wider audience through streaming. #RIPFilmStruck

 

And sometimes, life happens…

Greetings everyone – A few of you have reached out to me recently and wondered if I was doing alright. The answer is yes, I’m doing very well & I appreciate your concern. Life has just been really hectic of late with traveling, unexpected events, including the death of a friend, and getting some big projects in the works, like selling my house. Sadly, this has all derailed me a bit from my movie blogging project but NEVER FEAR!! It seems that I will have more time to devote here  and can return soon with new posts.

I appreciate all of your patience & understanding.

Metropolis (1927)

“In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.” (IMDB)

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To kick things off here at playitagain.blog we have long-before-its-time silent, science-fiction film from German director Fritz Lang. This is a film that I have never seen and knew absolutely nothing about. So, if you’re in that boat, know that you are probably not alone.

Metropolis was the world’s first full-length science fiction film and is one of the most expensive films ever made. The film takes place in the year 2026, includes more than 37,000 extras, and had an impact not just on film history but also world history.

I had absolutely no idea of what to expect when I started to watch this film but was immediately struck by how futuristic it was in scenery, characters, and plot points for having been released in 1927. Being a child of the 70’s & 80’s, I cut my movie-going teeth on science fiction films such as Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Back To The Future (1984). For example, much of the scenery of the city represented in the film immediately reminded me of Blade Runner (1982) and one of the main characters, Rotwang (played by Rudolph Klein-Rogge), instantly made me think about Doctor Emmet Brown of the Back To The Future series from the 1980’s with his wacky hairdo and childish delight with technology.

In addition, a major character was even subjected to a human cloning process! Remember, we are talking about Germany in 1927 here. The prospect for human cloning seriously began in the 1960’s but, even today, in 2018, we still haven’t successfully achieved the ability to clone a human. Although the process of human cloning shown in Metropolis is overly simplified and looks more like something out of a Frankenstein movie, it is essentially the idea of having this technology as a scientific possibility in the future which is astounding.

metro1

Throughout the film, I was thinking about how this film might have reflected or influenced Germany in 1927. Although Hitler & the Nazi Party did not come into power until 1933, some 6 years after the film was released, Hitler was already making speeches thought Germany in the 1920’s and even led a failed government takeover in Bavaria in 1923. A severe economic depression coupled with high levels of unemployment, allowed the Nazi Party to begin their eventual takeover with the 1932 election capturing 230 out of 608 seats in the German parliament. In January 1933 Hitler was appointed German chancellor leading his Nazi party to eventually control every aspect of the government and going so far as to ban all other political parties. Also, in 1933, the Nazi’s opened their first concentration camp, Dachau, to house “political prisoners”.

I’m unsure if anyone could watch Metropolis and not wonder how the ideas of the film, such as the “lower class” who lived and worked below ground at the behest of the “upper class” who lived in the futuristic city above, fed into the Nazi Party’s ideas and ideals. Some of these might be of an individual or small group of like-minded individuals holding complete power over the people in their drive for a Utopian existence, allowing a situation to become so perilous that “eliminating the lower class” to protect the “upper class” is permissible, stirring up violent reactions based on false and misleading information that leads to “mob rule” and striking fear in individuals, through sanctioned violence,  allows for even more control of the “workers” by the “thinkers”.

So, it didn’t come as a huge surprise to me, after having watched the film, that I discovered it was one of Hitler’s favorite films. In fact, it was such a favorite of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels that Goebbels met with the film’s director, Fritz Lang, and told him that he could be made an “honorary Aryan” despite his Jewish background. Goebbels told him, “Mr. Lang, we decide who is Jewish and who is not.” Lang left for Paris that very night. Smart move! Ultimately, the film is about “heart” and a meeting in the middle, via the prophesied “mediator”, in order to bring peace & unity or “heart” between the “hands”, represented by the “workers”, and the “head”, represented by the “thinkers”. Clearly, Hitler & the Nazi Party missed out on that significant point of the film or, perhaps, they had the astonishingly erroneous and misplaced idea that they were, in fact, the “heart”.

Metropolis

Despite Hitler & the Nazi Party holding this film in such high esteem, it was a flop in Germany and performed even worse when it was exported to the rest of the world. Part of this could have been due to its run-time of 2.5 hours which didn’t allow it to be run enough times per day for the investment of 5 million Reichsmarks (nearly 300 million US dollars today) to be returned. In addition, the film took nearly a year and a half to shoot and had many costly budget overruns. The company which produced the film,  UFA (Universum Film), nearly went bankrupt as a result. UFA eventually requested financial help from Famous Players and MGM for a total of four million dollars to complete film. UFA never recovered its investment in the film.

The film was restored in 2001 from the best available source known to still exist. When watching the restoration, you will notice scenes throughout the film where the quality is much less than the prior scene or shot and where, clearly, the original remaining print had deteriorated significantly. There is even an entire portion of the film where there are no images shown, simply more modern title cards which recount the action, I assume, once existed on film but was no longer viable or available for the 2001 restoration. Some film print was recovered in 2004 in Argentina but might not have included all of the missing scenes. This is another instance where film preservation & restoration has come to the rescue.

The impact and influence of this film is far-reaching even today. I now understand why it is considered an essential and would highly recommend this film to anyone who has not seen it or is a huge fan of sci-fi in any era. Just be aware of the Marxist overtones of the film and try not to get too hung up on them. Knowing what was happening in the era in which a film was made is great background but don’t get too lost in that intellectual loop and miss out on how technically amazing this film was for its time as well as it’s long-lasting significance and imprint on film & popular culture moving forward.

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MORE FUN FACTS ABOUT METROPOLIS (1927)

  • Metropolis was so influential on Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster that they named their city after it.
  • The robot of this film inspired the look for C-3PO in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977).
  • The mechanical right hand of one of the characters was later imitated in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964).
  • Footage of this film was used in the British Rock Band, Queen’s Music Video for “Radio Ga Ga”.
  • The restoration debuted in Berlin and had its American premiere at the 2011 TCM Classic Film Festival.

The film is #FreeTheClassics certified!
It is available for purchase as a digital download via Amazon.com or iTunes.

Where to begin?

Earlier this summer, I had the honor of being chosen as the 2018 TCM Backlot Guest Programmer. (Let me just add here that if you are a move fan or fanatic and are not yet a member of the TCM Backlot — you must join here!)

I entered the contest by submitting a video of myself introducing one of my favorite movies and talking about my passion for preserving film in the digital format. After they viewed hundreds of submissions, I was selected as the winner of the 2018 contest which afforded me the opportunity to select 4 films to have shown on TCM and to have the opportunity to meet & discuss those films on-air with the TCM Primetime host, Ben Mankiewicz. I flew to Atlanta in early August 2018 and spent a day on the set with the amazing cast & crew there at Turner Classic Movies. It was truly a remarkable day that I will NEVER forget! 402563_0726.JPG

By the way, my film selections and discussion with Ben will be airing on Wednesday, November 21st beginning at 5pm PT/8pm ET on Turner Classic Movies.

One of the things I was given that day on the set was a bag full of TCM goodies including a book titled, TCM The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They are Essential by Jeremy Arnold (foreword by Robert Osbourne). After returning to my hotel room and unpacking all of my amazing swag, I started the look through this book and, it was in that moment, that I was inspired to begin writing a film blog and my starting point would be this book. Many of the films I am familiar with, some I am not, most I have seen and some I have never seen. 52 films means 1 film each week for 1 year. I will work straight through the book from beginning to end posting my thoughts, ideas, and reactions to these films in the hopes that I will inspire others to see a new film, open up to new genres or even revisit films they love from a new viewpoint.

So, here I am ready to start off on this amazing, new adventure and I hope that you will join me for all of the fun! As always, if you have any film suggesstions for me to add to the list for later on, please send those to me at kingsley@playitagain.blog.