File Size: 22263 KB
Print Length: 511 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books (February 27, 2014)
Publication Date: February 27, 2014
Generally, their experiences were much more harrowing than We imagined, particularly for Wyler and Stevens. Though none of them of the five was ever in serious threat of dying, Wyler lost nearly all of his hearing while shooting footage on the B17 and Stevens who seems the most impacted by the war (he was considered a master of the light comedy ahead of the war and never made another after), shot an immense amount of movie during the liberation of Dachau, something he never really fully recovered from emotionally. Significantly, Wyler and Stevens are the two who are least enamored of time for Hollywood after the war, they weren’t certain they could return to a normal life and both struggled when they lastly did, Stevens in particular.
The book is filled with information I knew little about. For instance , I didn’t know that Stevens’ video of Dachau played an important part in the Nuremberg trials (it appears to me that much of the footage we have of the residue of the Holocaust – the piles of bodies, the bulldozing of those bodies -- came from Stevens and his people) or that Capra really never left Washington DC. There’s practically nothing here about Ford that could surprise anyone, he was devoutly pro-military and became a member of up before anyone otherwise, got himself into a position of power early on, hooking himself to William Donovan’s OSS teach (Donovan provided a whole lot of cover for Honda over time of the war), and understood how to play the device. The most important footage he shot was of the Battle of Midway and though he claimed credit for all the footage shot, he actually shot only a small part from it. He or she also in later years seriously inflated his experiences even though his unit was deeply involved in filming D-Day and Ford stated to be the first filmmaker to hit the beach, Harris thinks it unlikely he actually left the ships in the English Channel until at least 2 or 3 days after the initial invasion. Harris also thinks that the vitriol which Ford provided to Steve Wayne for not joining up (and Ford’s constant trolling for medals post war) masked guilt at not having done enough throughout the war.
And though Capra can be considered a preening neurotic (and his profession seems the most destroyed by the war; of the five, he was the one who battled the most to determine out how to integrate his experience with his work and beyond It’s a Wonderful Life, that was a box office failure, never made another substantial film) whose films pre-war in particular were confused see, mostly because Capra was confused politically (for example, in 1937, he supported Franco’s fascists in Spain), he comes off much better than Huston, who joined upward because he wanted an adventure, saw a little bit of battle (mostly some dead bodies), freaked out, and started ingesting and whoring like a mad-man and generally was in way over his head and desperate to get back to his Showmanship career, though he undoubtedly did some interesting work during the war (most notably a documentary about vets and post upsetting stress, which clearly Huston seemed to be suffering under, which was a serious effort than nobody saw until the 70s).
It’s also amazing how many Hollywood numbers crossed their paths throughout the war as part of the military; writers, owners and cinematographers specifically, and at various times these five worked with Gregg Toland, Budd Schulberg, Steve Sturges, Mel Blanc, Chuck Jones, Carol Reed, Paddy Chayefsky, Carl Foreman, Anatole Litvak, William Clothier, Dr. Suess, Frank Tashlin, Stuart Heisler, Garson Kanin, Bill Keighley,
At one point, Stevens runs into Andre Malraux wonderful band of resistance fighters (he said Malraux’s men were fanatically loyal to him), at another, Wyler via Dahon employs Hemingway’s brother (said to be fearless) as his Jeep driver on a harrowing drive to his home town in Germany, a place this individual left in the early 30s because of growing anti-semitism. From the book well worth reading.
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