Anjelica Huston: Venice Beach

Well, self will be sad to finish this book. She started reading it in Cork, continued reading it in Wexford, continued reading it in Dublin, and now has been reading it in London. She didn’t start with high hopes, especially since there’s a cringe-inducing love/hate thing going on with Jack Nicholson. But Huston shines when she describes a place. And she’s been to some pretty fabulous ones.

Here she describes the view from her house in Venice Beach:

On the top story was a little parapet from which one could see the whole of Venice Beach — from the flags of the many nations on the roof of the youth hostel next door, above a faded sepia mural, to the Townhouse bar across the street, the tattoo parlor, Animal House, the hippies and the homeless, the vendors, the performance artists, the swami with his turban and electric guitar on Rollerblades, the runaways, the snake-charmer, the rappers, the chalk and sand artists, the weight lifters, the addicts, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the tourists and the surfers, the skateboard kids, the guy who played “Eye of the Tiger” relentlessly and did crazy stuff with a chainsaw for eight years.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Anjelica Huston in Oaxaca

After the awfulness that was Jack Nicholson’s baby-drama, Huston marries sculptor Bob Graham and has a wedding to die for. Sweet! The honeymoon is in Oaxaca. Among many romantic memories, Huston shares this:

We went to an outdoor restaurant by a lake that served red ants and iguana, which tasted reptilian.

We visited Monte Alban in the scorching sun, thirteen hundred feet above the valley floor of Oaxaca, built in 500 B.C. by the Zapotec Indians, who actually practiced dentistry, as evidenced by some impressive stone carvings of primitive warriors having their teeth extracted.

LOL!

There’s that trademark Huston poker-face (wink wink)

Stay tuned.

The Addams Family: Morticia

More hilarity from Anjelia Huston. In Watch Me, she describes what she had to undergo while getting ready to play Morticia in The Addams Family:

  • There were to be several variations on Morticia’s ubiquitous black dress, some with subtle additions of lace and beading. Ruth Myers was the costume designer, and she was a zealot when it came to foundation garments. In keeping with my theory that a witch is a witch because all witches are in torture, the corset was so tight that for the first few days of filming, until the boning broke in to some degree and became more pliable, I literally could not sit down and had to be transported to set from my dressing room recumbent in the back of a station wagon.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

The Dryness

There is something self is seriously loving about Anjelica Huston, and it’s her sense of humor. It is so tongue-in-cheek. Not that she mugs her way through this book. But there’s a lot of slyness going on there.

She only wishes Huston’s editor had made her restrain all the angst regarding Jack Nicholson, especially in the book’s first 50 or so pages. It does this great actress such a disservice, made self dread reading the rest of the book.

But, anyhoo, here’s Huston on her first movie with Woody Allen (who clearly was not attracted to her at all — self thinks that was why he cast her in Crimes and Misdemeanors. P.S. Another actress who Woody was not in love with was Naomi Watts. And he didn’t give her a good role, either).

There’s a lot of subtext going on here. Huston’s character is named Dolores:

. . .  he had chosen a seriously ugly argyle sweater for Dolores, and although I felt it was a deeply unflattering shape and pattern, I kept my mouth shut. I had heard that Woody had fired a famous actress when she refused to wear a jacket of his choice, so I was determined to love my wardrobe.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Sentence of the Day: Anjelica Huston

“He was as weak and transparent as lace.”

— Anjelica Huston describes her father, the legendary film director John Huston, on his 81st birthday. From Watch Me, her second memoir

The trouble with self is that she cannot stop at just the one sentence. Here’s another good one, describing John Huston, post-embalming: “a rather florid paint job. He looked benign, if a little pink and waxy.”

Halfway through Huston’s book. Next: E. L. James’s Grey. Which she expects to breeze through, lol.

Stay tuned.

Brutal

The more self reads of Anjelica Huston’s Watch Me, the more her respect for Huston grows. The book is called Watch Me for a reason. It reminds her of the saying: “A person who has something to prove can move mountains.” That quote might have come from Robert Greene, in his 48 Laws of Power.

Quoting directly from the book, “no talent agency wanted to take me on prior to Prizzi’s Honor. Most didn’t even bother to return my phone calls. Eventually, I joined the Yvette Bikoff Agency. It was a small agency, but Yvette seemed to have more confidence in me than the others.”

Huston wants Yvette to try and get her paid more for her part in Prizzi’s Honor. Yvette tells Huston that she tried, but the producers “refuse to even discuss it.” Huston keeps pressing, until finally, with Huston in her office, Yvette places a call to a producer and puts him on speaker phone:

An irritated voice came on the line. “You want more money for Anjelica Huston? You must be kidding . . . go ahead, ask me!” said the voice. “We’d like nothing more than to see her dropped from the film. She has no talent. Her boyfriend is the star and her father is the director, that’s the only reason we are even having this conversation.”

If you’ve never heard of Prizzi’s Honor, go rent it from Netflix. Self only saw it once, but she can still remember the last minutes of the film so clearly. Anjelica Huston was absolutely right for that role. She is so physically imposing, which is why, when she projects vulnerability, it just breaks your heart.

Anyhoo, it’s almost midnight in London. Self had a grueling day. Swore she’d never take a cab from Heathrow, got lost at least three times looking for the Heathrow Express, carting her heavy, overweight luggage. She didn’t ask for help and no one offered any. (Good). She made it to Paddington. She was so famished she ate two meals sitting on a bench. She got into a taxi. She hauled luggage up four flights of stairs.

This is definitely a city. By that she means people are largely indifferent. But it’s a great city. She knew when the cab got near to Bloomsbury. Great Russell Street is her own little patch of London.

Self loves the parks: Regency Park, Hyde Park, Kensington. If all she does while in London is visit one park after another, and look at the Serpentine, and drop by Battersea and gawk at the huge Tate Modern, and then pay a visit to the exquisite Wallace Collection, she’ll be happy. Oh no, wait. No visit to London is complete without Chez Mamie. She even made a reservation because the place is always full now. And to think when she met Emily there last year, we were even wondering whether it would last a year! It’s still only got six tables, but for some reason, the last few times self has been in there, there seem to be a lot of Americans. All in suits. Conducting who knows what kind of negotiations.

Tomorrow she’s going to the British Museum to see an exhibit called “Sunken Egypt.” It’ll help her finish a story she started at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, a story called “Residents of the Deep.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Acting Class

Once Anjelica Huston stops writing so much about Jack Nicholson (which she does in the first 50 or so pages of her memoir), self actually finds Watch Me to be hugely entertaining.

At the age of 28, after a bad car accident (She wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, her nose was “broken in eight places” — self never knew a nose could be broken in that many places! Self is so impressed by that detail that she immediately writes an Everlark something about Katniss having her nose broken during a torture session in the heinous Capitol), Huston decides that life’s too short and decides to go after her dream of being an actress.

Her father, the venerable director John Huston, helpful as always, says “Dear, aren’t you a little old to try something like that?”

But Anjelica is undeterred.

After a few less than fulfilling acting jobs, her friend Carol Kane suggests ACTING CLASS!

Prior to this, Huston had been acting purely on instinct. But she dutifully decides to give acting class a whirl. And this is what it’s like:

  • There was some neck rolling, loud yawns and sighs, and stretching on the floor. A few improvisations followed . . .

LOL!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Marlon Brando, In a Petticoat

This book. THIS book. Although the incidents are strung together in extremely random fashion, there are gems. For example:

Jack Nicholson is shooting a movie (The Missouri Breaks) in Montana. Marlon Brando plays the bad guy and dresses in a petticoat, which he keeps on even when the film is not shooting. It’s called: “staying in character.”

Harry Dean Stanton is in the movie as well. Just before Stanton’s climactic death scene , he is “taut with tension” (because he is a “Method actor”?). His character is wounded and staggers to a riverbank, where Marlon Brando’s mercenary is to deliver the coup de grace. The director of the movie, Arthur Penn, yells “Action.” Shooting begins. “Marlon dismounted from his mule, wagging, skipping, inventing snatches of dialogue, mugging through the death scene, which was meandering on. He was obviously having a whale of a time. Suddenly, Stanton . . . lurched to his feet in the muddy river and lunged at Marlon, bringing him facedown in the water. A brief skirmish followed, a lot of white water, kicking and petticoats, and finally” Stanton and Brando emerge, “soaked from bonnet to boots, laughing hysterically.”

“Seriously, he was taking too long,” Harry Dean explained.

OMG! Self did not stop laughing for at least 10 minutes.

No mention of the director’s reaction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Rich Are Awful

Still reading Watch Me.

Self has this theory that the rich are awful people. Why? Because they’re surrounded by enablers and sycophants.

Self is in no way letting poor folk off the hook. She’s met awful, poor people as well. Awfulness comes in every demographic! But right now, she’s reading about rich people. Because this is Anjelica Huston’s memoir of the rich and the beautiful.

In Watch Me (Chapter xx, self forgets), Huston’s in Cannes. She’s on a yacht owned by Sam Spiegel. Parties are fabulous, the yacht interiors are “tasteful beige and maritime navy blue,” and everyone throws tantrums. The “widow of Anatole Litvak” (Self has no idea who this is; should she care?) lights up a cigarette on the yacht, thereby making herself the focus of Spiegel’s wrath, while the male guests are allowed to puff merrily away “on cigars.”

Self would not last one minute in such a crowd.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Care To Elucidate?

Thus far in Anjelica Huston’s second memoir, Watch Me, (Chapter 3) Huston has been let down by that rotter JN (Jack Nicholson, natch) at least twice, and both times she has gotten over the disappointment and humiliation by climbing on the back of a friend’s Harley Davidson (the first time, she remember she wears “a Missoni cloak” which seems so random, but is also in a way helpful because self is taking fashion notes). The first time this happens is in Milan, the second time is in Paris.

Huston’s writing is wildly uneven. There are flashes of good writing, but they don’t last long. Most of the time, she just appears bored.

Huston introduces a friend, “Herky,” thus: “He was one of those rare beings who are well informed about almost everything: he had a vast knowledge and affection for art, cities, music, movies, and people.”

What does this mean?

She’ll write something like: “Later on that evening, June attempted to hypnotize me” and won’t describe the scene. Hello?

The paragraph immediately after said attempted hypnotizing, Huston is off to Corsica. Among her fellow passengers is “a large group of nuns.” Their plane gets hit by “a lightning storm.” They survive and Huston arrives at her hotel (She made it! Oh, thank GOD! Self was aching with tension) and “the hotel staff was almost entirely West African.”

Which means — what exactly?

We will never know. Huston must head off to dinner.

If only Huston’s editor had done her job.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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