Friday, June 02, 2017

Documentary review - "Five Came Back" (2016) ****

Lots of books get written about Hollywood, but only a few get the deluxe documentary treatment - I'm guessing this got up because it focuses on directors who were so idolised by A list baby boom directors who agreed to appear on camera - this has Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo de Toro, Lawrence Kasdan, Paul Greengrass.

It is a good story - some leading Hollywood directors going off to war and being affected by the experiences: John Huston, John Ford, George Stevens, William Wyler, Frank Capra. All were characters of very different stripes: Huston was an adventurer, who couldn't help bucking against army authority, making several masterpieces including one on PTSD; Ford loved the military, probably had a high old time but was affected by it - took great delight in tormenting John Wayne while making They Were Expendable, and saw action; Wyler was a Jew, very conscious of the Jewish issues underlying the war; Capra was an Italian-American patriot (well they were all patriots), determined to show his new country how loyal he was; Stevens a great liberal.

The war affected them in several ways: Capra never really recovered his former position; Stevens lost his sense of humour.

The fact this is a documentary means you can see the films, especially important for the war films. The directors interviewed, not surprisingly, are good communicators. It's very touching how much del Toro feels a kinship for Capra, and Spielberg and Coppola's enthusiasm is always winning. Kasdan is a very bright analyst.

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