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Thursday 27 April 2017

Film legend's archive finds spiritual home

A storyboard drawing by Stephen Grimes, who was a production designer on 'The Dead'
A storyboard drawing by Stephen Grimes, who was a production designer on 'The Dead'
John Huston
John Huston's son and daughter Tony and Allegra at the launch last night of the Huston archive in NUIG

John Fallon

IN Hollywood he was just another film director but, in Ireland, John Huston was among his own.

Last night, an archive of scripts, photographs and other papers that once belonged to the acclaimed filmmaker was presented to NUI Galway.

Included amongst the intriguing collection is a script by the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who visited Huston at his Co Galway home more than 50 years ago in an effort to sell him the idea of making a film about the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. And he succeeded: 'Freud: The Secret Passion' starring Montgomery Clift was released in 1962.

Tony Huston, the director's son, said it was appropriate that an Irish university should receive the archive.

"Dad was much more than just a mere film-maker, and Ireland appreciated him in all his manifestations -- as a master of the Galway Blazers, as a man interested in horses, in gambling," he said.

"In Hollywood, he is just another late film director."

Tony Huston wrote the script for 'The Dead' and received an Oscar nomination for it.

His father's interpretation of the James Joyce short story forms a central part of the archive material.

"It is the most memorable film that I worked on with dad, and it was a story that I had been fascinated with from the time we lived as a family in St Cleran's in Co Galway," Tony Huston said.

The director's daughter Allegra said that it was great to see her father's legacy in the college.

"Galway has always held a special place in our hearts," she said.

Huston's other daughter, Academy Award winner Anjelica Huston, was unable to attend last night's ceremony but said she was delighted the archive would be in NUI Galway.

"I regret that due to my current filming schedule I have to miss the launch of the Huston archive at NUI Galway, but it gives me great satisfaction to see that these extensive archives, including remarkable materials relating to 'The Dead', have found a permanent place in their rightful home in Galway and will be made widely available to scholars, including those who enter the Huston School's doors for future generations to come," she said.

Others in attendance included the actress Kate O'Toole, who -- alongside Anjelica -- played a starring role in 'The Dead'.

The archive, handed over to the university's James Hardiman library, offers a unique view of the prolific intersection of Irish literature and American cinema, according to Rod Stoneman, director of the NUIG Huston School of Film & Digital Media.

"It was Huston's last film, and one which is particularly important as he was facing his own mortality," he said.

"Bringing this material into the public domain is an exciting development for those interested in John Huston's work. It is at the intersection of American cinema and Irish culture."

Also included in the archive are recordings of music used in Mr Huston's films, publicity materials, photos and magazines, press cuttings and legal documentation.

Other rare material includes a 1975 Scottish television interview with Huston conducted by film scholar Charles Barr at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

It also includes sketches and watercolours donated by Teresa Grimes, daughter of the late set designer Stephen Grimes, who worked with the celebrated director.

Irish Independent

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