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Five came back : a story of Hollywood and the Second World War
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Motion picture directors
Motion picture industry
World War II
Social conditions
Pearl Harbor
Military history
Hollywood, California - West (U.S.)
- International
Time Period
-- 20th century
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  Library Journal Review

Harris (Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New -Hollywood) surpasses previous scholarship on the directors who are the focus here: Frank Capra, John Ford, John Huston, George Stevens, and William Wyler. These Academy Award-winning directors were at the top of their careers when they volunteered for military duty in World War II. Several joined the Signal Corps and the Field Photo Unit; Wyler documented flying missions of the Memphis Belle. This is also a well-documented analysis of how Hollywood moguls (the majority being Jewish) and film celebrities became divided on the issue of prewar U.S. isolationism vs. interventionism. Accusations were thrown at Hollywood for either being in collusion with the Roosevelt administration or being anti-American and communist sympathizers. These directors were responsible for creating effective -pro-p---aganda and training films for new recruits, as well as documenting the realities of a devastating war. Their work took them everywhere from the Aleutian Islands to the South Pacific. After the war, they brought their experiences back home, each being affected both personally and prof-essionally. While Wyler and Huston found new pride in Hollywood and the country they loved so much, Stevens became painfully withdrawn from the world after having filmed the horrors of Dachau in preparing evidence for the Nuremberg trials. VERDICT This well-researched book is essential for both film enthusiasts and World War II aficionados. [See Prepub Alert, 9/1/13.] All five directors are featured in individual titles as part of the University of Mississippi's "Conversations with Filmmakers: Interviews" series. Other books to consider: Thomas Doherty's Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II ([Film & Culture] Columbia Univ. 1993); Clayton Koppes & Gregory D. Black's Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits, and Propaganda Shaped World War II Movies (Free Pr. 1987); Frank Capra's The Name Above the -Title: An Autobiography (Macmillan. 1971; Da Capo. 1997); Joseph McBride's Searching for John Ford (Univ. of Mississippi. 2011); John Huston's An Open Book (Da Capo, 1994); Marilyn Ann Moss's Giant: George Stevens, a Life on Film (Univ. of Wisconsin. 2004); Gabriel Miller's William Wyler: The Life and Films of Hollywood's Most Celebrated Director ([Screen Classics] Univ. of Kentucky. 2013); Jan Herman's A Talent for Trouble: The Life of Hollywood's Most Acclaimed Director: William Wyler (Putnam. 1996).-Richard Dickey, Washington DC (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

American filmmakers undergo their baptism of fire in this insightful if sometimes chaotic war saga. Journalist Harris (Pictures at a Revolution) profiles five leading directors-John Ford, Frank Capra, William Wyler, John Huston, and George Stevens-who ditched stellar careers to join the military and craft propaganda, battle documentaries and training films. (Ford's first Navy assignment was an explicit primer on venereal disease.) Harris's story is often simply Hollywood on steroids: generals and political strictures replace studio moguls and the Hays code; location hardships include getting shot at; the blurring together of authenticity and fakery deepens (some of the most acclaimed and innovative combat "documentaries" were staged reenactments). The fog of war sometimes obscures the big picture here; even more than civilian making-of epics, the author's narrative of military movie production is a welter of confusion and misfires, turf struggles, budget constraints, and grand artistic impulses thwarted by philistine bureaucracies and petty happenstance. Still, Harris pens superb exegeses of the ideological currents coursing through this most political of cinematic eras, and in the arcs of his vividly drawn protagonists-especially Stevens, whose camera took in the liberation of Paris and the horror of Dachau-we see Hollywood abandoning sentimental make-believe to confront the starkest realities. (Mar. 3) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The extraordinary wartime experience of five of Hollywood's most legendary directors, all of whom put their stamp on World War II and were changed forever by it <br> <br> In Pictures at a Revolution, Mark Harris turned the story of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967 into a landmark work of cultural history about the transformation of an art form and the larger social shift it signified. In Five Came Back, he gives us something even more remarkable: the untold story of how Hollywood changed World War II, and how World War II changed Hollywood, through the director's lens.<br> <br> It is little remembered now, but in prewar America, Hollywood's relationship with Washington was decidedly tense. Investigations into corruption and racketeering were multiplying, and hanging in the air was the insinuation that the business was too foreign, too Jewish, too "un-American" in its values and causes. Could an industry with such a powerful influence on America's collective mindset really be left in the hands of this crew?<br> <br> When war came, the propaganda effort to win the hearts and minds of American soldiers and civilians was absolutely vital. Nothing else had the power of film to educate and inspire. But the government was not remotely equipped to harness it--so FDR and the military had little choice but to turn to Hollywood for help. In an unprecedented move, the whole business was farmed out to a handful of Hollywood's most acclaimed film directors, accompanied by a creative freedom over film-making in combat zones that no one had ever had before or would ever have again.<br> <br> The effort was dominated by five directing legends: John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens. They were complicated, competitive men, gifted and flawed in equal measure, and they didn't always get along, with each other or with their military supervisors. But between them they were on the scene of almost every major moment of America's war and in every branch of service--army, navy, and air force, Atlantic and Pacific; from Midway to North Africa; from Normandy to the fall of Paris and the liberation of the Nazi death camps. In the end, though none of them emerged unscarred, they produced a body of work that was essential to how Americans perceived the war, and still do.<br> <br> The product of five years of original archival research, Five Came Back is an epic achievement, providing a revelatory new understanding of Hollywood's role in the war through the life and work of five men who chose to go, and who came back.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Pearl Harborp. 1
Part 1
1"The Only Way I Could Survive"p. 15
Hollywood, March 1938-April 1939
2"The Dictates of My Heart and Blood"p. 31
Hollywood and Washington, April 1939-May 1940
3"You Must Not Realize that There Is a War Going On"p. 58
Hollywood, June-September 1940
4"What's the Good of a Message?"p. 69
Hollywood, Early 1941
5"The Most Dangerous Fifth Column in Our Country"p. 83
Hollywood and Washington, July-December 1941
Part 2
6"Do I Have to Wait for Orders?"p. 101
Hollywood, Washington, and Hawaii, December 1941-April 1942
7"I've Only Got One German"p. 117
Hollywood, December 1941-April 1942
8"It's Going to Be a Problem and a Battle"p. 130
Washington, March-June 1942
9"All I Know Is That I'm Not Courageous"p. 145
Midway and Washington, June-August 1942
10"Can You Use Me?"p. 172
Washington and Hollywood, August-September 1942
11"A Good Partner to Have in Times of Trouble"p. 172
England, North Africa, and Hollywood, September 1942-January 1943
12"You Might as Well Run into It as Away from It"p. 186
The Aleutian Islands, Hollywood, Washington, and North Africa, September 1942-May 1943
13"Just Enough to Make It Seem Less Than Real" 199
England, Hollywood, and Washington, January-May 1943
14"Coming Along with Us Just for Pictures?"p. 213
Washington, England, and New York, March-July 1943
Part 3
15"How to Live in the Army"p. 231
North Africa, Hollywood, Florida, and Washington, Summer 1943
16"I'm the Wrong Man for That Stuff"p. 244
Washington Hollywood, And England, June-December 1943
17"I Have to Do a Good Job"p. 257
England and Italy, October 1943-January 1944
18"We Really Don't Know What Goes On Beneath the Surface"p. 271
Washington, the China-Burma-India Theater, Italy, and New York September 1943-March 1944
19"If You Believe This, We Thank You"p. 286
Hollywood and England, March-May 1944
20"A Sporadic Raid of Sorts on the Continent"p. 299
Hollywood, Washington, and New York, March-May 1944
21"If You See It, Shoot It"p. 310
France, June-July 1944
22"If Hitler Can Hold Out, So Can I"p. 324
Hollywood and Washington, July-December 1944
23"Time and Us Marches On"p. 338
France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and England, July 1944-January 1945
24"Who You Working For-Yourself?"p. 352
Hollywood, Florida, Italy, and New York, February-May 1945
25"Where I Learned About Life"p. 366
Germany, March-August 1945
26"What's This Picture For?"p. 378
Washington and Hollywood, Summer 1945
27"An Angry Past Commingled with the Future in a Storm"p. 391
Hollywood, New York and Germany, 1945
28"A Straight Face and a Painfully Maturing Mind"p. 405
Hollywood, New York, and Washington, December 1945-March 1946
29"Closer to What Is Going On in the World"p. 419
Hollywood, May 1946-February 1947
Epiloguep. 439
Note on Sources and Acknowledgmentsp. 445
Notesp. 449
Bibliographyp. 489
Creditsp. 495
Indexp. 497
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