Behind the scenes of the Broadway play The Night of the Iguana – the crowning glory of Tennessee Williams’ long and successful career. Seven Arts Productions buys the film rights. Ray Stark hires John Huston as director:
Certainly in both his flamboyant behavior and appearance, Huston was anything but conventional-looking. He had a large head, a long neck, bony shoulders and big hands and feet. Soulful brown eyes peered out from deep pouches behind an aquiline nose, which had been broken by an opponent’s fast jab in an amateur boxing match. The once youthful face was now lined and puffy and his wavy dark hair had turned gray.
Acutely fashionable, Huston favored theatrical costumes over street clothes. His sartorial tastes extended to fancy hats, riding capes, flaring tweed hacking jackets, stovepipe cavalry-twill trousers and two-piece safari suits that clung to his tall, skinny frame like a well-dressed scarecrow.
His favorite pastime of horse riding – a product of Huston’s Midwestern upbringing that followed him from infancy in rural Missouri to adulthood in suburban California – benefited from an uncanny ability to communicate with people and animals, calming skittish horses and reprimanding barking dogs with a soft murmur of his voice or a gentle touch of his hands. This special gift qualified him to become an intuitive director of actors, tapping into their primal fears, as well as probing deeper, more complex emotions.
Huston had explored the subconscious mind in several films, most recently Freud, a biographical account of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. But this was the first time Huston had been asked to contribute his talents to a contemporary social drama by Tennessee Williams and which took place in Latin America. “John, of course, was the guru of Mexico,” said Stark. “I just got him at a lucky time when he wanted to go back there.”…
NEXT: Part 2