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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Next Best Thing To Being There


This New Book Puts You On A Classic's Location

Thought-lost films continue to turn up, right? But how about a visual record (as in over 150 images) from behind-scenes of a John Ford wartime classic ... news to me on par with reels hauled up from hiding ... a between-covers coup achieved by author Lou Sabini and serviceman-photographer Nicholas Scutti. Latter was assigned to the Florida location of They Were Expendable, part of U.S. Navy cooperation with Ford/crew, Scutti making his own photo diary during a month spent with Expendable's company. Scutti got to know director Ford and all of performing principals, coming away with much insight into each and all. His captures were not for studio use or publicity ... thus nothing posed ... and everyone on relax or candid setting. We really get sense of a crew at work, play, eating, arguing (Bob Montgomery did not hit it off with Ward Bond), etc. Most welcome of visitors was military personnel passing through, or there to greet Naval colleague Ford, one of these a spit-and-polish Richard Barthelmess, former silent era star and now a lieutenant commander. Behind The Scenes Of They Were Expendable: A Pictorial History is one-of-a-kind, and once-in-a-lifetime, explore of Classic Era filmmaking like we dream of, but nearly never get. Just pretend someone gave you a camera and a ticket back to Florida in 1945 --- that's the kind of kick you'll get from exploring this marvelous book. Amazon has it HERE.

1 Comments:

Blogger John McElwee said...

Craig Reardon speaks highly of "They Were Expendable":


Hi John,

Thanks for the tip about the new book out about this great picture. Really a beauty, and part of that due to the cinematography by the great Joe August, whose brilliant work in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" has recently been fully redeemed by the superb restoration from WB's image masters in-house and on view in their new Blu-ray. My first contact with August's singular style was when I first saw the badly-butchered (but all that was available then) "C & C Movietime" version of "The Devil and Daniel Webster" on TV in the '60s. August particularly had a way with closeups, as is obvious in the great films he left behind. I think "Portrait of Jennie" was his last credit, and that too is one-half August, the other half everybody else, in my opinion anyway.

I love "They Were Expendable". There's something stoic about the feel of the movie, not covertly at all but overtly indeed. Clearly that's how Ford fancied himself, too---tough-guy, get-the-job-done, don't whine, don't complain, don't act 'special'. There's that great line at the end that the underrated Robert Montgomery delivers to John Wayne, when the latter's character tries to give up his seat on the transport to somebody who's wounded, whatever it was. Montgomery says something on the order of, "Do you think you're your own boss?" Again, the emphasis on team effort and especially on duty. It's a film I believe all servicemen would relate to, whatever their experience (well, perhaps not all; and easy for me to say, never having served.) It's an atypical MGM film. There were more than one such and the studio gets stigmatized, a bit too often I think, for making "samey-same" films. Then again, the way they murdered "The Red Badge of Courage" ranks somewhere only a little bit south of what was done with "...Ambersons", to my thinking.

Plus!---the young Donna Reed, one of my favorite beauties in the history of movies. Oh, man. And William J. Tuttle, the young makeup artist, was her first husband! For about five minutes. I envy him even that short time with her.

Craig

7:39 PM  

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