Posted Tuesday night, June 20, 2017.
Gal Gadot as a disguised Princess Diana dancing with the villainous General Ludendorff played by the maddeningly familiar Danny Huston in a scene from Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman owes a lot to Captain America: The First Avenger. That's a compliment. All movies owe something to movies that came before them Art, mass, popular, and fine refers to art, mass, popular, and fine. Wonder Woman owes even more to the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies to the point that I wonder if director Patty Jenkins might have been taking a friendly dig at Zack Snyder, who directed the gloomy and angst-ridden Man of Steel and Batman v Superman and who, as producer of Wonder Woman was Jenkins’ boss. This is how you make a Superman movie, Zack. Think I’ll make that the subject of its own wonderful thought. But it’s Captain America that’s more on my mind at the moment.
Noble but naive hero with a good heart takes on evil Germans---it’s World War I but the Kaiser's Army might as well be the Fuhrer's, they are so vicious and bent on world domination. Their commander is, at any rate. General Ludendorff is Wonder Woman's equivalent to Captain America's Red Skull. He even has a pet mad scientist.
Ludendorff is played by a fine character actor named Danny Huston. Some of you probably know him as part of the ensemble of American Horror Story. Oliver and Ken Mannion know him from the unnecessary remake of Clash of the Titans and its even more unnecessary sequel Wrath of the Titans in which he played the god Poseidon. I'd seen him in several TV shows and movies before, but he made the sharpest impression on me when he played Richard the Lion Heart in Russell Crowe's also unnecessary Robin Hood. It wasn't his performance itself that impressed me. It was his resemblance to somebody I couldn't identify.
At first I thought he seemed so familiar because of something particular I'd seen him in. Thing was, when I checked imdb and went down the list of his credits, I kept saying to myself, "No, it wasn't that. Nope, wasn't that one."
The resemblance, I decided, wasn't to himself. Some other actor or, possibly, someone I knew from another context, the news, perhaps, or even from real life. Looked like a priest I served mass with when I was an altar boy or a teacher I had in high school or a professor in college. Maybe an old friend's father or a relative I'd met only at a funeral or a wedding. Oh well. It'll come to me. Didn't matter enough to me to check his biography. And I wasn't thinking especially hard about it or his name would have been all the clue I needed.
Danny Huston looks like his father. John Huston.
He might look a little like his half-sister Angelica too, but it's his father I see most clearly. It's the grin. The wicked grin.
John Huston is my favorite director. Not because he directed my favorite movies, although, come on! The Maltese Falcon? Treasure of Sierra Madre? African Queen? The Dead?
The Dead is the only movie that's ever had me teared up from start to finish. James Joyce got time off in Purgatory for writing the story. Huston went straight to heaven for the movie.
Huston is one of the few people whose life I envy. If I had it to do over, I’d live a life like his.
I say that. But I don’t really mean it.
To have a life like someone else's, you’d have to be like that person. Huston led a swashbuckling life. In addition to directing many excellent films, he worked on a number of other good ones as a screenwriter. But he was a cad and a scoundrel and something of an all-around bastard. And while the idea of having affairs with beautiful actresses like the young Olivia de Haviland is enticing, I wouldn't want to be the kind of guy who would treat his wife like this:
Oscar night felt like something of a leavetaking for [director William Wyler who was preparing to join the Army Signal Corps in Washington]---the last special occasion that he and [his wife] Tilli would enjoy together for quite some time---and they were sharing it with close friends whose marriage was crumbling before their eyes. John and Lesley Huston had been married for five years, but Huston's infidelities had started almost immediately and were now insultingly indiscreet. During the making of The Maltese Falcon in the summer of 1941, he had an affair with his leading, Mary Astor; he had since moved on to a new picture, In This Our Life, a new leading lady, Olivia de Haviland, and a romance so unconcealed that, as Huston sat next to his wife, he and de Haviland blew kisses at each other across the empty dance floor in a manner that Talli Wyler found "uncomfortably obvious."
De Haviland doesn't come off too well in that anecdote either. The quote's from Mark Harris' Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War, and it's Wyler who comes off the best in the book---he's practically its hero---as the kind of person it's worth wanting to be like, generous, brave, thoughtful, disciplined, and majorly talented.
First Wonderful Thought: Injustice in the works?
Second Wonderful Thought: A comic book movie for us guys.