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Danny Huston Talks Growing Up with ‘The Maltese Falcon’

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Few show business families fit the bill of Hollywood royalty like the Hustons. Siblings Anjelica Huston and Danny Huston are not shy about recognizing the talent that has been a part of their family since the dawn of Hollywood with their grandfather Walter Huston and subsequently their father John Huston.

Walter was a legendary Hollywood actor, starring in such films as Dodsworth, And Then There Were None, and The Outlaw. John followed his father’s lead in Hollywood but began behind the camera. He wrote screenplays with some of the best filmmakers of the studio era and eventually took on directing his own films, many of which we consider classics to this day.

One of those classics, The Maltese Falcon, spearheaded the film noir genre in popular film and cemented Humphrey Bogart’s movie stardom as the no-nonsense tough guy. As it turns eighty years old this year and enters theaters again for a limited time, we talked again to Danny Huston about his father’s work on the film and where it stands in film history today.

It’s remarkable that this was John Huston’s first directing project, being that it is such a classic now. How did he feel about this movie in the context of the films he made after?

Because it was his first film, it was quite controlled. It was very storyboarded and he left no room for any accidents. It was very premeditated. I think he said that about three-quarters of the shots were all sketched out beforehand. But he left a certain amount of space for the actors, of course, to move. Then he was excitedly surprised at what they had to offer. That was the main difference. I don’t think a single word was changed [from the script].

Did that controlled pre-production planning continue into the rest of his career?

Especially with this movie because this was his first film. I mean he came in under budget. He had written some screenplays, but this was his first directing opportunity. My grandfather, Walter Huston, did a little cameo performance in this as a gesture of luck to please Jack Warner. So, it was a very controlled........

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