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Kissing Off 'The Hustons'

January 07, 1990

I was surprised at and disappointed with Patrick Goldstein's "review" of Lawrence Grobel's "The Hustons" (Book Review, Nov. 26). Surprised, because I thought that a newspaper such as The Times would treat a book that has much to say about this city in such a bland manner. Disappointed, because the book, as I have read it, says so much that was ignored by your reviewer.

There is a great deal in "The Hustons" that is of historical importance--the settling of the West, the development of the American theater, the history of the early years of the cinema, the making of disturbing World War II documentaries, the struggles against the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Loyalty Oath, the break-up of the studios, the beginnings of independent productions and on-location film making--that Mr. Grobel clearly documents that I can only shake my head at the lost opportunity you had to critically look at a book that has far more redeeming values than merely focusing on the loves and escapades of John Huston..

As a historian and professor of history, I was especially interested in John Huston's giving up his American citizenship, and his lifelong involvement with Mexico--from his adventures there as a teen-ager through his four films shot in that country ("The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," "The Unforgiven," "The Night of the Iguana," "Under the Volcano"), his adoption and subsequent abandonment of the young boy named Pablo, his dedication to the woman Maricela who cared for him the last 12 years of his life, and his residing in Puerto Vallarta after leaving his home in Ireland in the early '70s.

Surely a work of this size and depth, in this of all cities, deserves to be taken and analyzed seriously.

ENRIQUE CORTES

Professor of History California State University, DOMINGUEZ HILLS

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