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Lewis Milestone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lewis Milestone
Lewis Milestone, Russian-American film director (1895-1980).jpg
Lewis Milestone
Born
Leib Milstein

(1895-09-30)September 30, 1895
DiedSeptember 25, 1980(1980-09-25) (aged 84)
Occupation
  • Director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1918–1964
Spouse(s)Kendall Lee (m. 1926 – died 1978)

Lewis Milestone (born Leib Milstein (Russian: Лейб Мильштейн);[1] September 30, 1895 – September 25, 1980) was a Russian-American film director. He is known for directing Two Arabian Knights (1927) and All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), both of which received Academy Awards for Best Director. He also directed The Front Page (1931 – nomination), The General Died at Dawn (1936), Of Mice and Men (1939), Ocean's 11 (1960), and received the directing credit for Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), though Marlon Brando largely appropriated his responsibilities during its production.[2]

Early life

Milestone was born Lev (or Leib) Milstein near the Russian Empire's Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine into a wealthy and distinguished family of Jewish heritage.[3]

In 1900, when Milestone was five, his father moved his household to the provincial town of Kishinev, capital of Bessarabia of the Russian Empire (now Chișinău, Moldova). Milestone's primary education at Jewish schools reflected his parent's liberal social and political orientation, and included a study of several languages. Milestone's early love of theater and his desire to follow the dramatic arts was discouraged by his family, who dispatched their son to Mittweida, Saxony to study engineering.[4]

Neglecting his classes to attend local theater productions, Milestone failed his coursework. Intent on pursuing a theatrical career, he purchased a one-way transatlantic ticket to the United States, arriving in Hoboken, New Jersey on 14 November 1913, shortly after his eighteenth birthday.[5][6][7]

"You are in the land of liberty and labor, so use your own judgement."—The elder Milestone's laconic reply from Russia to his 18-year-old son who had cabled him from New York City for financial assistance[8][9][10]

Struggling to support himself in New York City, Milestone worked odd jobs—"janitor, door-to-door salesman, lace-machine operator"—before finding a position as portrait and theater photographer in 1915. He enlisted in the Signal Corps in 1917 shortly after America's entry into World War I. Stationed in New York City and Washington, D. C., he was assigned to its photography unit and trained in aerial photography, assisted on training films and edited documentary combat footage. His cohorts at the Signal Corps included future Hollywood directors Josef von Sternberg and Victor Fleming.[11][12]

In February 1919, Milestone was discharged from the army and immediately obtained his US citizenship, legally changing his surname from Milstein to Milestone. An acquaintance from the Signal Corps, Jesse D. Hampton, now an independent film producer, secured Milestone an entry level position in Hollywood as an assistant editor.[13][14]

Hollywood apprenticeship 1919–1924

Milestone arrived in Hollywood in the same financial straits as he had in Hoboken, New Jersey as a Russian émigré in 1913. He recalled in later years that in order to sustain himself until his studio job commenced, he worked briefly as a card dealer at an oil field gambling joint.[15][16]

Despite a number of mundane assignments from Hampton—at $20 per week—Milestone's trajectory from assistant editor toward director proceeded steadily. In 1920 he was tapped to serve as general assistant to director Henry King at Pathé Exchange.His first credited work was as assistant on King's 1920 Dice of Destiny.[17][18][19]

During the next six years Milestone "took on jobs in any capacity available" with the Hollywood film industry, working as editor for director-producer Thomas Ince, as general assistant and co-author on film scripts by William A. Seiter and as a gag-writer for comedian Harold Lloyd. In 1923 he followed Seiter to Warner Brothers studios as assistant director on Little Church Around the Corner (1923), assuming most of the filmmaking tasks on the production.[20][21] Milestone's reputation as an effective "film doctor" skilled at salvaging movies was such that Warners began offering his services to other studios at inflated rates.[22]

Director: Silent era, 1925–1929

By 1925, Milestone was writing numerous screen treatments for films at Universal and Warners studios, among them The Mad Whirl, Dangerous Innocence, The Teaser and Bobbed Hair. The same year, Milestone approached Jack Warner with a proposition: he would provide the producer with a story gratis if he was allowed to direct it. Warner agreed to sponsor his directorial debut, Seven Sinners (1925).[23]

Seven Sinners (1925): One of three films Milestone directed with Marie Prevost, and a former comedienne with Mack Sennett. Jack Warner appointed Darryl F. Zanuck as screenwriter. A "semi-sophisticated" comedy incorporating elements of slapstick, Seven Sinners proved sufficiently successful with critics and the public to warrant Milestone, now 29-years-old, additional directing assignments.[24][25]

The Caveman (1926): Milestone delivered his second Prevost comedy The Caveman quickly and efficiently, earning him praise for its "adroit direction". During production, Milestone broke his contract with the studio over his exploitation as a "film doctor": Warners sued for damages and won, forcing Milestone to file for bankruptcy. The Caveman would be his last film for Warners until Edge of Darkness in 1943. Undeterred, Milestone was quickly acquired by Paramount Pictures.[26]

The New Klondike (1926): A sports-themed drama based on a Ring Lardner story was filmed on location in Florida. Despite a "lukewarm" response from critics, Paramount was enthusiastic regarding Milestone's prospects, showcasing him with other young studio talent in the promotional Fascinating Youth (1926). A subsequent contretemps with screen star Gloria Swanson on the set of Fine Manners (1926) led to Milestone walking off the project. Director Richard Rosson received credit when he completed the picture.[27]

Two Arabian Knights (1927): Considered Milestones most outstanding work during the silent era, Two Arabian Knights was inspired by the AndersonStallings stage play What Price Glory? (1924), and director Raoul Walsh's 1924 screen adaption. The first film in a four-year contract with Howard Hughes' The Caddo Company—and his only film of 1927— it garnered Milestone an Academy Award for best comedy direction in 1927, prevailing over Charlie Chaplin's The Circus (1927). Set during World War I, doughboys William Boyd and Louis Wolheim, and love-object Mary Astor form a comic triangle.[28][29]

The Garden of Eden (1927): Made under a Caddo releasing agreement with Universal Pictures, The Garden of Eden, "a variation on the Cinderella story...of acidic sophistication", was adapted by screenwriter Hans Kraly and resembles, in both script and visual production, the works of Ernst Lubitsch. The project benefited from the lavish sets designed by William Cameron Menzies and the cinematography of John Arnold. The film stars the popular Corinne Griffith.[30][31] Milestone's cinematic rendering of Two Arabian Knights and The Garden of Eden established him as a skilled practitioner of "rough and sophisticated" comedy.[32]

The Racket (1928): Wary of being stereotyped as a comedy director, Milestone shifted to an emerging genre popularized by director Josef von Sternberg in his gangland fantasy Underworld (1927).[33] The Racket, a "taut and realistic" depiction of a mobster-controlled police department distinguished Milestone as an able practitioner of the genre, but its reception was blunted by a flood of less superior gangster films released in the late 1920s. Nonetheless The Racket was nominated for Best Picture at the 1928 Academy Awards.[34]

Early sound era: 1929–1936

New York Nights (1929): Segue to sound

Milestone's first foray into sound productions, New York Nights proved inauspicious. A vehicle for silent screen icon Norma Talmadge (spouse to producer Joseph Schenck), Milestone attempted to accommodate United Artists' desire to blend "show-biz" and gangster genres in an adaption of "the justly forgotten" Broadway production entitled Tin Pan Alley. Film historian Joseph Millichap appraises Milestone's effort:

"In several ways New York Nights is best considered with Milestone's silent efforts, as it seems an obviously unimportant transitional piece. Like many early sound films it is shot from a few camera settings, and it is full of static scenes in which the cast is all too obviously speaking into hidden microphones. Milestone was so displeased with the final cut that he asked to have his name removed from the credits..."[35]

Millichap adds that "the film is not worth considering as Milestone's first sound work."[36][37]

Chef-d'œuvre: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Milestone at age 34 during filming of All Quiet on the Western Front
Milestone at age 34 during filming of All Quiet on the Western Front

Milestone's anti-war picture All Quiet on the Western Front is widely recognized as his directorial masterpiece and ranks as one of the most compelling dramatizations of soldiers in combat during The Great War.[38] Adapted from Erich Maria Remarque's classic 1929 novel, Milestone conveyed cinematically the "grim realism and anti-war themes" that characterize the literary work. Universal studio's head of production Carl Laemmle Jr., purchased the film rights so as to capitalize on the international success of Remarque's book.[39][40]

"When he was preparing to shoot his wrenching anti-war film All Quiet on the Western Front from the point of view of German schoolboys who become soldiers, Universal co-founder and president Carl Laemmle pleaded with him for a 'happy ending.' Milestone replied, 'I've got your happy ending. We'll let the Germans win the war.'[41][42]

All Quiet on the Western Front presents the war from the perspective of a unit of patriotic young German soldiers who become disillusioned at the horrors of trench warfare. Actor Lew Ayres portrays the naive and sensitive youth Paul Baumer.

In collaboration with screenwriters Maxwell Anderson, Del Andrews and George Abbott, Milestone (uncredited) crafted a scenario and script that "reproduces the terse, tough dialogue" of Remarque's novel, so as to "expose war for what it is, and not glorify it."[43] Originally conceived as a silent film, Milestone filmed both a silent and a talkie version, shooting them together in sequence.[44]

The most outstanding technical innovation of All Quiet on the Western Front is the success to which Milestone integrated the rudimentary sound technology of the early talkies with the advanced visual effects developed during the late silent era. Applying post-synchronization of the sound recordings, Milestone was at liberty to "shoot the way we've always shot...it was that simple. All the tracking shots were done with a silent camera." In one of the film's most disturbing sequences, Milestone uses tracking shots and sound effects to graphically show the devastating effects of artillery and machine guns on advancing troops.[45][46][47]

The picture met with immense critical and popular approval, earning a Best Picture Oscar and a second Best Director award for Milestone.[48][49]

All Quiet on the Western Front established Milestone as a genuine talent in the film industry. Howard Hughes rewarded him with a prime property for adaption: Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur 1928 play, The Front Page.[50]

The Front Page (1931)

One of the most sensational and influential pictures of 1931, The Front Page introduced the Hollywood archetype of the hard-boiled and fast-talking reporter in Milestone's depiction of the backroom denizens of Chicago newspaper tabloids. The film's script retained the "sparkling dialogue [and] hard, fast and ruthless pace" that characterized Ben Hecht's and Charles MacArthur's stage production of 1928.[51] The Front Page set the foundation for a virtual "journalism genre" in the 1930s, imitated by other studios and spawning a number of remakes, among them Howard Hawks' His Girl Friday (1940) and Billy Wilder's The Front Page (1974).[52]

The selection of Pat O'Brien to play the hard-bitten reporter "Hildy" Johnson was disappointing to Milestone, whose request to cast James Cagney or Clark Gable in the role was vetoed by producer Howard Hughes, in favor of O'Brien, who had performed in the Chicago stage production The Front Page.[53]

The Front Page surpasses All Quiet on the Western Front in being wholly a masterpiece, and one of the greatest pictures of the period. Milestone achieved a perfect marriage of film and theater. The picture has a vividness not matched in a newspaper subject until Citizen Kane.”—Biographer Charles Higham in The Art of the American Film (1973).[54]

More than a product of Milestone's fidelity to the play's lively and profane dialogue, he endowed the work with an Expressionistic cinematic style. Biographer Joseph Millichap evaluates Milestone's technique:

Milestone employs "several framing devices, a quick cross-cutting between scenes, a moving camera intercut with close-ups, juxtaposition of angles and distances, and a number of trick shots...Overall, the deft combination of Realistic mise-en-scene with an Expressionistic camera draws the best out of the realistic, melodramatic and comedic elements of the original [play]...creating the most cinematically interesting, if not the most entertaining, version of The Front Page.[55][56][57]

Both the opening tracking shots of the newspaper's printing plant and the confrontation between Molly Malloy (Mae Clarke) and a phalanx of reporters demonstrate Milestone's mastery of the technique.[58][59]

The Front Page received a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards and Milestone was listed among "The Ten Best Directors" by a Film Daily poll of 300 movie critics.[60]

Troubled by film directors declining control within the studio system, Milestone gave his full support to King Vidor's proposal to organize a filmmaker's cooperative. Supporters for a Screen Directors Guild included Frank Borzage, Howard Hawks, Ernst Lubitsch, Rouben Mamoulian and William Wellman, among others. By 1938, the guild was incorporated, representing 600 directors and assistant directors.[61][62]

Paramount Pictures was experiencing a financial crisis during the mid-Thirties that inhibited their commitments to their European film stylists such as Josef von Sternberg, Ernst Lubitsch and Milestone.[63] Under these conditions, Milestone embarked upon the final phase of his early sound period, a phase that would expose his difficulties in locating compelling literary material, production support and proper casting. The first among these films was Rain (1932).[64][65][66]

Rain (1932): The short story "Miss Thompson" by Somerset Maugham has gone through several adaptive permutations, both for stage and film, before and after Milestone filmed the work in 1932.[67][68]

Milestone was assigned rising star Joan Crawford by Allied Artists, known for her silent film roles as a flapper, to play the prostitute Sadie Thompson. Her suitability for part has been widely scrutinized, and according to film critic Joseph Millichap "almost every comment on the film says she was miscast." Crawford herself registered disappointment with her interpretation of the role.[69][70]

Milestone was not encumbered as yet by the Production Code, and his portrayal of the overwrought Puritan missionary Reverend Davidson (Walter Huston) and his rape of Thompson blends violence with sexual and religious symbolism through adroit intercutting.[71] Termed "slow and stage-bound"[72] and "stiff and stagey",[73] Milestone offered his own assessment of Rain:

"I thought [audiences] were ready for a dramatic form; that now we could present a three-act play on the screen. But I was wrong. People will not listen to narrative dialogue. They will not accept the kind of exposition you use on the stage. I started the picture slowly, too slowly, I'm afraid. You can't start a picture slowly. You must show things happening."[74]

Hallelujah, I'm a Bum (1933): Released during the depths of the Great Depression, Hallelujah, I'm a Bum was an attempt by United Artists to reintroduce early talkie singer Al Jolson after his three-year hiatus from film roles.[75] Based on a Ben Hecht story, with a score by Rodgers and Hart featuring innovative "rhythmic dialogue" delivered in song-song, its sentimental and romantic theme of a New York City tramp met with indifference or dismay among moviegoers.[76] Film historian George Millichap observed that "the problem of this entertainment fantasy was that it brushed aside just enough reality to confuse its audience. Americans in the winter of 1933 were not in the mood to be advised that the life of a hobo was the road to true happiness, especially by a star earning $25,000 a week."[77] Milestone's miscalculated effort to make a "socially conscious" musical was generally ill-received at its New York opening and Milestone was left struggling to locate a more serious film project.[78]

Attempts by Milestone to make a film about the Russian Revolution (working title: Red Square), based on Stalinist Ilya Ehrenburg's The Life and Death of Nikolai Kourbov (1923), and an adaption of H. G. Wells's The Shape of Things to Come (1933) proposed by Alexander Korda, neither project materialized.[79][80] In lieu of these unrealized films, Milestone proceeded to make "a string of three insignificant studio pieces" from 1934 to 1936.[81]

The Captain Hates the Sea (1934): Milestone accepted a lucrative deal to film a John Gilbert vehicle and left United Artists for Harry Cohn's Columbia Pictures.[82] The Captain Hates the Sea was conceived and recognized by critics as a spoof of the 1932 star-studded anthology, Grand Hotel, which showcased Hollywood's emerging screen legends Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and John Barrymore. Milestone's largely improvised film featured an ensemble of Columbia's character actors, among them Victor McLaglen and The Three Stooges. Described by critic George Millichap as "a very uneven, disconnected, rambling piece", the cost overruns on The Captain Hates the Sea—complicated by heavy drinking by the cast members—soured relations between Milestone and Cohen. The movie is notable as the final film of Gilbert's career.[83][84]

Milestone next embarked on two films for Paramount, his only musicals of his career, but relatively undistinguished in their execution. Milestone himself described them as "insignificant": Paris in Spring (1935) and Anything Goes (1936).[85]

Paris in Spring (1935) and Anything Goes (1936): Milestone was assigned Paris in Spring, a romantic musical farce. Leading man Tullio Carminati had just completed the operetta-like One Night of Love (1934) with Grace Moore at Columbia studios. Paramount paired their own Mary Ellis with Carminati, and it was Milestone's task to make a picture rivaling the Columbia success.[86][87] Aside from a credible replica of Paris created by art directors Hans Dreier and Ernst Fegté, Milestone's camera work failed to overcome "the essential flatness of the tale."[88][89][90]

Anything Goes, a musical starring Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman and adapted from his 1934 Cole Porter Broadway musical, enjoyed the advantage of some enduring numbers, including "I Get a Kick Out of You", "You're the Top", and the title song. Milestone's work is conscientious, but he showed little enthusiasm for the genre.[91][92]

Milestone's personal life was more gratifying than his artistic endeavors in the mid-Thirties. In 1935 he and Kendall Lee Glaezner, an actress whose professional name was Kendall Lee, were married. She and Milestone had been a couple since they met on the set of his 1932 film Rain, in which Lee had played the role of Mrs. MacPhail. They remained married until Mrs. Milestone's death in 1978. They did not have any children. Biographer George Millichap reports that "over the years the Milestones were the most gracious of Hollywood hosts, giving parties that attracted the cream of the film community."[81]

The General Died at Dawn (1936)

Following his two lackluster musicals, Milestone returned to form in 1936 with The General Died at Dawn, a film that in theme, setting and style is reminiscent of director Josef von Sternberg's The Shanghai Express (1932).[93][94]

The screenplay written by Leftist playwright Clifford Odets is derived from an obscure   pulp-influenced manuscript by Charles G. Booth. Set in the Far East, it carried a sociopolitical theme: the "tension between democracy and authoritarianism."[95] Actor Gary Cooper plays the American mercenary O'Hara, a man possessing genuine republican commitments and whose character Milestone adroitly establishes in the opening frames.[96] His adversary is the complex and multidimensional Chinese warlord General Yang played by Akim Tamiroff. Actress Madeleine Carroll is cast as the young missionary Judy Perrie ``trapped between divided social forces" who struggles to overcome her diffidence and ultimately joins O"Hara in supporting a peasant revolt against Yang.[97]

Milestone's notable match cut sequence from The General Died at Dawn: billiard ball transitions to door handle.

Milestone's brings to the adventure-melodrama a "bravura" exposition of his cinematic style and outstanding technical skills: an impressive use of tracking, a 5-way split-screen and a widely noted use of a match dissolve that serves to transition action from a billiard table to a white door handle leading to an adjoining room, "one of the most expert match shots on record" according to historian John Baxter. [98]

Though disparaged by Milestone in retrospect, The General Died at Dawn is perhaps one of the "masterpieces" of 1930s Hollywood. Milestone was well-served by cinematographer Victor Milner, art directors Hans Dreier and Ernst Fegté, and composer Werner Janssen in creating "his most exquisite and exciting if not most meaningful examination of social friction in a human context."[99][100]

Directorial hiatus: 1936–1939

After completing The General Died at Dawn, Milestone encountered a series of professional setbacks—"unsuccessful projects, broken contracts and lawsuits"—that placed his film career in abeyance for three years.[101][102]

A number of serious projects which Milestone did pursue, including directing a film version of Vincent Sheean's Personal History (1935) (later directed as Foreign Correspondent (1940) by Alfred Hitchcock) went unfulfilled, as did a screenplay written by Milestone and Clifford Odets for a film adaption of the Sidney Kingsley Broadway hit Dead End (1935) for Sam Goldwyn that went to William Wyler, a director, like Milestone, of literary texts.[103][104]

The Night of Nights (1939): In an effort to remain employed, Milestone accepted Paramount's offer to direct Pat O'Brien in a show business programmer The Night of Nights. A "second-line" studio production, the film was best served by Hans Dreier's stage settings.[105][106]

After signing a contract with Hal Roach in late 1937 to film a version of Eric S. Hatch's novel Road Show (1934), Milestone was dismissed by the producer for straying from the comedic elements of the work. Litigation ensued, and the matter was resolved when Roach presented Milestone with another project: to adapt to film John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men (1937).[107][108]

Of Mice and Men (1939)

Milestone had been favorably impressed with both Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men and its 1938 stage production, a morality play set during the Dust Bowl, and he embraced the film project with enthusiasm.[109] Producer Hal Roach hoped to emulate the anticipated success of director John Ford's adaption of another Steinbeck work, The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Both films drew upon the political and creative developments that emerged in the Great Depression, rather than the approaching 1940s and the impending conflict in Europe.[110][111] Milestone enlisted Steinbeck support for the film and the author "essentially approved the script" as did the Hays Office who made only "minor" changes to the scenario.[112]

The film opens with what was at the time an innovative device, a visual prologue that sets the "mood, tone [and] themes", identifying the lead characters, George and Lennie (played by Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney Jr., respectively) as itinerant laborers, even before the credits are displayed.[113] As a cinematic interpretation of a literary work, Of Mice and Men managed to convincingly blend the elements of each art form. Milestone maintains the " anti-omniscient" detachment that Steinbeck applied to his novella with a cinematic viewpoint that matches the author's literary realism.[114] Milestone placed great emphasis on visual and sound motifs that serve to develop the characters and themes . As such, he conferred carefully on image motifs with art director Nicolai Remisoff, and cameraman Norbert Brodine and persuaded composer Aaron Copland to provide the musical score.[115] Critic Kingley Canham points to the importance Milestone placed on his sound motifs:

"...the [musical] score, one of several scored for Milestone by Aaron Copland, played a decisive role in the form of the film: natural sounds and dialogue sequences were interpolated with the music to act as complimentary motifs to the visual and narrative development."[116]

The picture garnered Copland nominations for both Best Musical Score and Best Original Score.[117]

Milestone, who preferred to cast "relative unknowns"—in this case influenced by budgetary restraints—Lon Chaney Jr. to play the childlike Lennie Small and Burgess Meredith who plays his keeper George Milton. Actress Betty Field, in her first important feature, plays Mae, the faithless spouse of straw boss Curly (Bob Steele).[118][119]

Though nominated for Best Picture of 1939, Of Mice and Men had the shared misfortune of competing with a veritable pantheon of Hollywood films: The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming), Stagecoach (John Ford), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Sam Wood), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra), Dark Victory (Edmund Goulding), Love Affair (Leo McCarey), Ninotchka (Ernst Lubitsch), Wuthering Heights (William Wyler), and the winner, Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming)."[120]

Despite critical accolades for Milestone's Of Mice and Men, the tragic narrative that ends in the mercy-killing of the doomed Lennie at the hands of his comrade George was less than gratifying to audiences, and it failed at the box office.[121]

"This particular pair of comedies [Lucky Partner (1940) and My Life with Caroline (1941)] were of the kind you did if you hoped to stay in motion pictures, in the expectation that the next film might give you a chance to redeem yourself."— Lewis Milestone[122]

Lucky Partners (1940) and My Life with Caroline (1941): Milestone's reputation as a director was undiminished among Hollywood executives after Of Mice and Men, and he was signed by RKO to direct two light comedies, both of which were vehicles for Ronald Colman.[123] Provided with his own production unit, he quickly satisfied his contractual obligations, directing Ginger Rogers in her post- Astaire period in Lucky Partners, and marshaling Anna Lee in the "totally disarming frolic" in My Life With Caroline.[124]

My Life With Caroline was released in August 1941, just four months before Pearl Harbor and America's entry as a belligerent in World War II.[125]

World War II Hollywood propaganda: 1942–1945

Milestone's reputation as the director of All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), though an emphatically pacifist and anti-war film, positioned the director as an asset in Hollywood's "patriotic and profitable" production of anti-fascist war films. [126] Film curator Charles Silver noted Milestone's "facility for capturing battle's intrinsic spectacle...there is an inevitable pageantry to cinematic warfare that works against whatever pacifist intentions the filmmaker may have." Milestone himself reflected "how can you make a pacifist film without showing the violence of war?"[127] Responding to the "general climate of opinion in wartime Hollywood" Milestone abandoned any reservations as to his commitments to the US war effort and offered his services to the film industry's propaganda units.[128]

Our Russian Front (1942): Our Russian Front is a war documentary assembled from 15,000 feet of newsreel footage taken on the Russian front by Soviet citizen-journalists during Nazi invasion of the USSR in 1941. In collaboration with Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens, working with The Government Film Service in 1940, Milestone depicted the struggle of Russian villagers to resist the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Actor Walter Huston narrated the documentary and the composer Dimitri Tiomkin provided the film score.[129][130] Edge of Darkness' (1943): Milestone returned to Warner Brothers in a one-film contract after seventeen years, his last feature with the studio the silent movie The Caveman (1926).[131] The first of three successful films he made in collaboration with screenwriter Robert Rossen, Edge of Darkness signaled a change in Milestone's attitude toward his war films, both professionally and personally.[132] The director of the anti-war film All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) made this explicit in 1943:

"Edge of Darkness has done away with disillusionment. We know the enemy we are fighting and we are facing the stern realities of the present war. The moral of Edge of Darkness is 'United we stand, divided we fall.' That is the great lesson of our time and the keystone for victory for the democratic cause."[133]

Edge of Darkness is Milestone's fulsome demonstration of these sentiments that exposed "the severe limitations" created by Hollywood's self-imposed propaganda requirements.[134] Film critics Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg comment on this phenomenon:

"The majority of films set in Europe [during World War II] were concerned mainly with emphasizing two things: Nazi cruelty to civilians and the latter's organized clandestine resistance...set usually in a small town or village, these films were well-meaning but stereotyped exercises in predictable propaganda. Occasionally, in Milestone's Edge of Darkness, they did achieve eloquence and power, but they suffered from the too frequent casting of Americans as Europeans, and from an ultimate sameness that detracted from their propaganda value."[135]

Edge of Darkness unfolds in a remote Norwegian village where its inhabitants are brutalized by Nazi occupiers, inspiring collective resistance among the townspeople who liquidate their oppressors in a single, violent uprising. Milestone employs an "anti-suspense" device, that shows the ultimate carnage suffered by the inhabitants, then reveals the story in flashback. A melodramatic film fantasy, Milestone's "thematic oversimplification", reflected Hollywood's penchant for melodramatic propaganda.[136]

Milestone was ambivalent regarding the cast and their characterizations for Edge of Darkness. The picture stars Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan, who had been costars in the western Dodge City, here portraying Norwegian freedom fighters. Helmut Dantine appears as the sociopathic Nazi commandant. Biographer George Millichap reports that "the frequent rasp of New York accents from Norwegians and Nazis" distracts from the picture's authenticity. A number of the players, including Flynn, were embroiled in personal and legal issues that detracted from their work on the production.[137]

Milestone's overall cinematic execution renders the story adequately in a realist style, but lacks his bravura use of the camera.[138] In one exceptional scene, Milestone reveals the dramatic epiphany experienced by the villagers when the Nazis publicly burn the local schoolteacher's library collection. Through expert cutting and panning, Milestone documents a collective transformation that will spur the outraged residents to plan an armed uprising against their oppressors.[139]

Edge of Darkness delivered effective war propaganda to Warner Brothers studios and fulfilled Milestone's contract. His next project would be set on the Eastern Front in a Sam Goldwyn production at RKO: The North Star (1943).[140]

(L to R): Lewis Milestone and James Wong Howe on set of The North Star.
(L to R): Lewis Milestone and James Wong Howe on set of The North Star.

The North Star (1943): The North Star is a war propaganda picture dramatizing the devastation wrought by the German invasion of the USSR on the inhabitants of a Ukrainian farming collective. US President Roosevelt dispatched Lowell Mellett, the chief of the Bureau of Motion Pictures of the Office of War Information to enlist producer Sam Goldwyn in making a film celebrating America's wartime alliance with Russia. Milestone's "lavish" production support included playwright-screenwriter Lillian Hellman, cinematographer James Wong Howe, set designer William Cameron Menzies, film score composer Aaron Copland, lyricist Ira Gershwin and a competent cast of players.[141][142]

The Hellman script and Milestone's cinematic compositions establish the bucolic settings and social unity that characterizes the collective's inhabitants. Milestone uses a tracking shot to follow the aged comic figure Karp (Walter Brennan) as he rides his cart through the village, a device Milestone uses to introduce the film's key characters. An extended sequence portrays the villagers celebrating the harvest with food, song and dance, resembling more an ethnic operetta, with Milestone using an overhead camera to record the circular symmetry of the happy revelers.[143][144][145] Milestone displays his "technical mastery" both through image and sound as villagers discern the approach of German bombers announcing the shattering of their peaceful existence. Portions of this sequence resemble documentary war footage, recalling Milestone's work in All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and Joris Ivens The Spanish Earth (1937).[146]

Beyond this point, the necessities of Hollywood war propaganda asserts itself, shifting the focus to German atrocities.[147] Hellman's screenplay provides for a complex treatment only for the German aristocrat and surgeon Dr. Otto von Harden (Erich von Stroheim), who, though dragooned into service, rationalizes Nazi atrocities. Milestone presents him in the Gothic style of German expressionism.[148][149] Russian doctor Dr. Pavel Grigorich Kurin (Walter Huston), Harden's moral opposite and nemesis, ultimately dispatches his Nazi prisoner. Biographer Joseph Millichap observed that "Single-minded hatred of Fascist evil countenanced action, shooting a prisoner [the Nazi Dr. Harden] or shooting a mindless melodrama..."[150]

The film's melodramatic climax resembles a commercial action-movie, where untrained Russian guerrilla fighters overrun and obliterate the Nazi stronghold and its defenders.[151]

The picture received fulsome approval from the mainstream press, with only the Hearst papers interpreting the film's pro-Russian themes as pro-Communist propaganda. The Academy of Arts and Sciences nominated The North Star for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Special Effects, Best Musical Score, Best Sound and Best Original Screenplay. The film was largely ignored at the box office.[152][153]

Sam Goldwyn's The North Star and two other films—Warner Brothers' Mission to Moscow (1943) and M-G-M's Song of Russia (1944)—came under scrutiny by the anti-communist House Un-American Activities Committee in the post-war years.[154][155]

The North Star was reissued in a heavily reedited form that expunged any sequences that celebrate life under the Stalinist regime. Retitled Armored Attack and released in 1957, the setting is represented as Hungary during its uprising with a voice-over condemning communism.[156]

The Purple Heart (1944): In the Pacific War during WWII, captured American airmen are prosecuted by Imperial Japan with violating the Geneva Conventions for participating in the July 18, 1942 Doolittle Raid over Japan by B-25 bombers, specifically through indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets.[157]

Based on a true incident, Milestone's technical skill in presenting the airmen's ordeal, and the inherent injustice they endured made for potent propaganda, but at the risk of rationalizing the US bombing and anti-Japanese jingoism.The Purple Hearts, upon which the captured officers and men are ultimately bestowed, is earned through wounds inflicted by torture to extract military secrets, and not through combat. [158] A cinematically superior war film, Milestone defended his commitments to supplying propaganda for the American war effort: " We didn't hesitate to make this kind of film during the war."[159]

Guest in the House (1944): A psychological thriller à la Alfred Hitchcock, Milestone was removed from the project when he experienced an emergency appendectomy during filming. Milestone contributed some scenes in this United Artists production that was ultimately credited to director John Brahm. The film prepared Anne Baxter for her starring role in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's 1950 feature All About Eve.[160][161]

A Walk in the Sun (1945): In his second collaboration with screenwriter Robert Rossen, and based on Harry Joe Brown's 1944 book, Milestone's invested $30,000 of his own savings, a measure of his enthusiasm for the literary property and its cinematic potential. [162]

A Walk in the Sun takes place during the US invasion of Italy during WWII: a platoon of American soldiers are tasked with advancing inland six miles from Salerno to take a German-held bridge and farmhouse. The social and economic backgrounds of the officers and men represent a cross-section of America, who often express ambivalence about the purpose of the war. Film critic Kingley Canham describes the characters as "a group of unwilling civilians, who find themselves at war in a strange land...a sense of hopelessness pervades the film and the final outcome means nothing to the men who are fighting the war..."[163][164]

Milestone's perspective on war as conveyed in A Walk in the Sun differs with that of his 1930 All Quiet on the Western Front, a moving indictment of war.[165] Biographer Joseph Millichap observes:

"All Quiet on the Western Front, both the novel and the film, used the microcosm of one platoon to make a major thematic statement about the macrocosm of war. A Walk in the Sun's thematic statement is muted by the demands of propaganda and the studio system in the film."[166]

Despite these limitations, Milestone avoided the "set hero and mock heroics" typical of Hollywood war movies, allowing for a measure of genuine realism reminiscent of his 1930 masterwork. Milestone's trademark handling of tracking shots is evident in the action scenes.[167]

The Red Scare and the Hollywood Blacklist

At the onset of the Cold War, Hollywood studios, in alliance with the US Congress, sought to expose alleged communist inspired content in American films. Milestone's pro-Russian The North Star (1943), made at the behest of the US government to encourage American support for its wartime alliance with the USSR against the Axis powers became a target.

The North Star, as well as Michael Curtiz's Mission to Moscow (1943), Gregory Ratoff's Song of Russia (1944) and Jacques Tourneur's Days of Glory (1944) were "to haunt their creators in the McCarthy era" when any hint of sympathy for the Soviet Union was considered subversive to American ideals.[168][169]

Milestone's alignment with liberal causes such as Committee for the First Amendment compounded suspicions that he harbored pro-communist sentiments during the Red Scare. He and other filmmakers were summoned by the HUAC for questioning. Biographer Joseph Millichap describes Milestone's ordeal:

"The Russian-born Milestone, always a liberal intellectual with Leftist inclinations, was a natural target for the witch hunters of the HUAC. As early as November of 1946, Milestone appeared before the committee as an 'unfriendly witness'; in other words, he claimed his constitutional right not to testify. In 1948, the anti-communist writer Myron Fagan implied that Milestone was a Red sympathizer, [a claim made explicit] by Hedda Hopper in her nationally syndicated Hollywood column. Unlike the Hollywood Ten and many others, Milestone was able to keep working..."[170][171]

The precise impact of the Hollywood blacklist on Milestone's creative output is unclear. Unlike many of his colleagues, he continued to find work, but, according to film critic Michael Barson, the quantity and quality of his offers may have been limited through industry "greylisting". Millichap adds that "Milestone refused to comment on this side of his life: evidently he found it very painful."[172][173][174]

The post-war films: 1946–1951

The movies that Milestone directed in the late Forties represent "the last distinctive period" in the director's creative output. His first effort after completing his series of wartime propaganda pictures was a Hal B. Wallis production, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, based on the story "Love Lies Bleeding" by John Patrick.[175]

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946): a film noir classic

Director Lewis Milestone (far left) on the set of The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. Cast L to R: Kirk Douglas, Van Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck.
Director Lewis Milestone (far left) on the set of The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. Cast L to R: Kirk Douglas, Van Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck.

In collaboration with screenwriter Robert Rossen and some outstanding artistic support, Milestone directed The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, a "striking addition" to the post-war Hollywood film genre of film noir, combining a grim 19th century romanticism with the cinematic methods of German Expressionism.[176]

Rossen and Milestone's script provided the capable cast, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin and Kirk Douglas (in his first screen appearance) with a "taut, harsh" narrative that critiqued postwar urban America as corrupt and irredeemable.[177] Cinematographer Victor Milner's camerawork supplied the film noir effects and musical director Miklós Rózsa effectively integrated sound motifs with Milestone's visual elements.[178][179]

Milestone left Paramount and moved to the rising independent Enterprise Studios. His first film for Enterprise was Arch of Triumph, based on the Erich Maria Remarque 1945 novel.[180]

Arch of Triumph (1948)

Milestone's second adaption of an Erich Maria Remarque novel, Arch of Triumph, was highly anticipated by moviegoers, and by Enterprise Studios, which committed huge capital investments to the project.[181] Set in pre-war Paris of 1939, Remarque's autobiographical work examines the personal devastation suffered by two displaced persons: the surgeon Dr. Ravic, fleeing Nazis persecution, and the demimonde courtesan Joan Modau. Each of the lovers suffers a tragic fate.[182]

Remarque's brutally realistic depictions of the Paris underworld, which describe a revenge murder and a mercy-killing approvingly, was at odds with the strictures of the Production Code Administration. Milestone accordingly excised "the bars, brothels and operating rooms" as well as the sordid ending from the screenplay. Enterprise studio executives, who called for a picture that would rival Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's recently re-released Gone with the Wind (1939), had procured Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman to that end.[183] The miscasting of screen stars Boyer and Bergman as Dr. Ravic and Joan Madou, respectively, impaired Milestone's development of these characters with respect to the literary source.[184] The director described his difficulty:

"One thing wrong was that it was supposed to be a realistic piece, but it had two major stars in the lead. If you have two major stars like that, then half your reality goes out the window."[185]

Milestone delivered a lengthy four-hour version of Arch of Triumph that had been pre-approved by Enterprise. Executives reversed that decision shortly before its release, cutting the picture to the more standard two hours. Entire scenes and characters were eliminated, undermining the clarity and continuity of Milestone's work.[186] The film includes some of the macabre elements of the novel through effective use of expressionistic camera angles and lighting effects.[187] Milestone's overall disaffection from the project is evident in his indifferent application of cinematic technique, contributing to the failure in his film adaption. Biographer Joseph Millichap observes:

"...Milestone cannot be completely absolved of responsibility for the disaster… Even given the fragmentary state of the final print, the film seems strangely inert and lifeless. Mainly studio shot, the careful mise-en-scène of earlier films is missing. Aside from two or three sequences, the compositions are dull, the camera is static, the editing predictable...Milestone seems to have almost given up..."[188]

Millichap adds that "Wherever the blame is placed, Arch of Triumph is a clear failure, a bad film made from a good book."[189]

Arch of Triumph proved an egregious failure at the box office, with Enterprise suffering significant losses. Milestone continued with the studio, accepting an offer to produce and direct a comedy vehicle for Dana Andrews and Lilli Palmer: No Minor Vices (1948). [190][191][192]

No Minor Vices (1948): A "semi-sophisticated" programmer reminiscent of Milestone's 1941 comedy My Life with Caroline at RKO, it added little to Milestone's oeuvre.[193][194]

Milestone departed Enterprise and joined novelist John Steinbeck at Republic Pictures to make a film version of The Red Pony (1937).[195]

The Red Pony (1949)

Novelist John Steinbeck's The Red Pony is a story sequence set in California's rural Salinas Valley in the early 20th century. Milestone and Steinbeck had considered adapting these coming-of-age stories about a boy and his pony since 1940. In 1946 they partnered with Republic Pictures, an amalgamation of "poverty row" studios known for low-budget westerns, but now prepared to invest in a major production.[196]

Steinbeck served as sole screenwriter on The Red Pony. His novella, comprising four short stories, is "unified only by continuities of character, setting theme."[197] Identifying a market for the film was a key concern for Republic, insisting on a picture aimed at juvenile audiences.[198] In the interests of crafting a sequential and coherent narrative, Steinbeck limited the film adaption primarily to two of the stories, "The Gift" and "The Leader of the People", obviating some of the harsher episodes in the literary work. Steinbeck willingly provided a more upbeat ending to the picture, an accommodation that according to film critic George Millichap "completely distorts...the thematic thrust of Steinbeck's story sequence."[199]

The casting for The Red Pony presented some difficulties for Milestone in developing Steinbeck's characters and themes, which explore a child's "initiation into the realities of adult life."[200] The aging ranch hand Billy Buck is portrayed by the youthful and virile Robert Mitchum, whose character effectively displaces the father Fred Tiflin (Shepperd Strudwick) as male mentor to the nine-year-old Tom Tiflin (Peter Miles). The boy's mother is played by Myrna Loy, best known in her roles as the sophisticated spouse to William Powell in The Thin Man (1934) and its sequels, here playing a rancher's wife.[201] Film critic Joseph Millichap points to the inherent difficulties in a film portrayal of the boy Tom, played by the then 10-year-old Miles: "The major casting problem is the [young] protagonist. Perhaps no child star could capture the complexity of this role, as it is much easier for an adult to write about sensitive children than for a child to play one."[202]

Though Milestone's cinematic effort fails to do justice to the literary source, several of the visual and aural elements are impressive. The effective opening sequence resembles the prologue he used in his 1939 adaption of Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men, introducing the natural world that will dominate and inform the lives of the characters.[203]

In his first technicolor picture, Milestone's "graceful visual touch" is enhanced by cameraman Tony Gaudio's painterly renderings of the rural landscape.[204] Composer Aaron Copland's highly regarded film score perhaps surpasses Milestone's visual rendering of Steinbeck's story.[205]

The Red Pony provided Enterprise studios with a satisfactory "prestige" property, generating critical praise and respectable box office returns.[206] Milestone moved to 20th Century Fox where he would make three films: Halls of Montezuma (1951), Kangaroo (1952) and Les Misérables (1952).[207]

Halls of Montezuma (1951): Released in January 1951, Halls of Montezuma reflects the Cold War imperatives that informed Hollywood films during the Korean War. The story by Michael Blankfort, with Milestone co-screenwriter (uncredited)[208] concerns an attack by US Marines on a Japanese held island during World War II. The film focuses on the heroic suffering experienced by one patrol in its effort to locate a Japanese rocket-launching bunker.[209] Milestone's dual themes provides both for a fulsome celebration of Marine combat heroics, juxtaposed with an examination of psychological damage to the soldiers who must personally participate in the "horrors" of modern warfare, including the torture of enemy combatants.[210] Milestone denied that Halls of Montezuma addressed his "personal beliefs" on the nature of war and had agreed to make the movie strictly as a financial expedient.[211]

Halls of Montezuma recalls some elements of Milestone's 1930 anti-war classic All Quiet on the Western Front. The film's cast, like the earlier film, was selected from relatively unknown actors, their "complex and believable" characterizations revealing the contrasts between hardened veterans and green recruits. The cinematic handling of battle scenes is also reminiscent of the 1930 movie, where Marines deploy from their landing crafts and advance on open terrain under enemy fire.[212] Milestone reverts to the formulaic war movie with a standard "Give 'em Hell" climax, accompanied by the strains of the Marine Hymn.[213] The film is commonly cited as representing the onset of a purported decline in his talents or his exploitation by the studios.[214]

Late career, 1952–1962

Milestone's final years as a filmmaker correspond to the decline and fall of the Hollywood movie empire: the final eight films of his career reflect these historic developments.[215] By 1962, shortly before the release of his last Hollywood film Mutiny on the Bounty, Films and Filming (December 1962) made this explicit: "In common with so many of the Old Guard directors, Lewis Milestone's reputation has somewhat tarnished over the last decade. His films no longer have that stamp of individuality which distinguished his early work..."[216]

Milestone's films during his last ten years of his career were characterized by biographer Joseph Millichap as "less a reprise of the director's earlier achievements than several desperate efforts to keep working. Even more markedly than in his earlier career, Milestone moved frenetically between pictures which varied widely in setting, style and accomplishment."[217][218]

After completing Halls of Montezuma (1951) for 20th Century Fox, the studio sent him to Australia to utilize funds limited to reinvestment in that country. Based on this pragmatic consideration, Milestone filmed Kangaroo (1952).[219][220]

Kangaroo (1952): Termed an "antipodal Western" by film critic Bosley Crowther, Milestone chief struggle with 20th century was over "the utterly ridiculous script, a collection of Western clichés transposed from the American plains to the Australian outback" according to film critic Joseph Millichap.[221] Milestone attempted to evade the poor literary vehicle by concentrating on "the landscape, flora and fauna" of the Australian outback at the expense of dialogue. The Technicolor cinematography by Charles G. Clarke achieved a documentary-like quality, incorporating Milestone hallmark panning and tracking methods.[222][223]

Les Misérables (1952): For the last of his three pictures at 20th Century Fox, Milestone delivered a 104-minute version of Victor Hugo's sprawling romance novel Les Misérables (1862). Fox producers endowed the project with their foremost contract players, including Michael Rennie, Debra Paget, Robert Newton and Sylvia Sidney and lavish production support. The script by Richard Murphy "telescopes all the novel's famous set-pieces into this cliché-ridden" abbreviated adaption.[224][225] In a 1968 interview with film historians Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg, Milestone recalled his approach during the filming of Les Miserables: "Oh, for Chrissake, it was just a job; I'll do it and get it over with." Film critic Joseph Millichap observes: "that he did little with [Hugo's] literary classic...seems to indicate the waning of Milestone's creative energies."[226]

Sojourn in Europe, 1953–1954

Milestone traveled abroad to England and Italy seeking work during the Fifties where he directed a biography of a diva, filmed an action World War II drama as well as an international romance-melodrama.[227]

Melba (1953): Filmed in England at Horizon Pictures, Melba is a biopic of the famed coloratura soprano Dame Nellie Melba. The picture was an effort by producer Sam Spiegel to capitalize on the popularity of recent film biographies of Enrico Caruso and Gilbert and Sullivan. Metropolitan Opera star Patrice Munsel made her screen debut playing the Australian opera diva. Aside from Munsel's serviceable performance, Milestone was burdened by a "worthless script" and an "insipid cast" and failed to deliver a compelling rendering of Dame Melba's life. Film historian Kingsley Canham reports that the picture "turned out to be a disastrous flop" at the box office.[228][229] Milestone remained in England during 1953 to film a war-adventure for Mayflower PicturesBritish Lion Films: They Who Dare, starring British actor Dirk Bogarde.[230]

They Who Dare (1953): In his penultimate war film, Milestone dramatizes a factual account of British and Greek commando unit assigned to destroy a German airfield on the island of Rhodes during World War II. Based on a script by Robert Westerby, Milestone delivers an action-packed climax in the final minutes of the film that recalls his early work in this genre, but the picture failed to elicit enthusiasm among critics and audiences. Biographer Kingsley Canham remarked that Milestone's back-to-back box office failures—Melba and They Who Dare—"was not a good omen for an established director, especially in the Fifties..."[231][232]

The Widow (La Vedova) (1954): Filmed in Italy for Ventruini/Express in 1954, and adapted by Milestone from a novel by Susan York, this "soap opera-ish love triangle" stars Patricia Roc, Massimo Serato and Anna Maria Ferrero. [233][234]

Pork Chop Hill (1959)

Produced by Sy Bartlett for the Melville Company. Pork Chop Hill represents the third work in "an informal war trilogy" along with Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and A Walk in the Sun (1945).[235][236]

Based on a recounting a Korean War battle by combat veteran S. L. A. Marshall and a screenplay by James R. Webb, Milestone was provided with a realistic literary platform from which to develop his final cinematic treatment of men at war.[237]

The plot involves a strategically pointless assault by a company of U.S. infantrymen to secure and defend a nondescript "hill" against a much larger Chinese battalion. The context for this struggle concerns high-level truce negotiations, where the American and Korean general staffs regard this minor tactical outcome as a measure of one another's resolve. In order to take and hold the position, American troops suffer devastating losses. Ultimately, the military brass reinforces the position, but will little appreciation for the sacrifices made by the company- sacrifices of which the infantrymen are acutely aware.[238] Film critic Kingley Canham offered this plot summary of Pork Chop Hill: "The story of a battle for a strategic point of little military value, but of great moral value, during the last days of the Korean War."[239]

Milestone and screen star and financial investor in the project Gregory Peck, who plays company commander Lieutenant Joe Clemons, came to loggerheads over the presentation of the film's themes. Rather than emphasize the pointlessness of the military operation, Peck favored a more politicized message, equating the taking of Pork Chop Hill as equivalents to "Bunker Hill" and "Gettysburg.[240][241] The studio's final editing of the director's cut blunted Milestone ironic message concerning the futility of war, perhaps his most anti-war statement since his 1930 All Quiet on the Western Front.[242][243] Biographer Joseph Millichap comments on Gregory Peck's influence on the final cut of Pork Chop Hill:[244]

"It was Peck's conception of the part which doomed Milestone's vision; Peck converted the role into a more or less standard superman of World War II vintage...and also cut much of Milestone's careful development of other characters, his artistic counterpointing of the opposing forces, and his bitterly ironic conclusion."[245][246]

Milestone distanced himself from the final cut of the film, declaring "Pork Chop Hill became a film I am not proud of...[merely] one more war movie."[247]

In addition to rising screen star Peck, Milestone enlisted primarily unknown actors to represent the officers and the rank and file characters, among them Woody Strode, Harry Guardino, Robert Blake (in his first adult role), George Peppard, Norman Fell, Abel Fernandez, Gavin MacLeod, Harry Dean Stanton, and Clarence Williams III.[248][249]

Ocean's 11 (1960)

Ocean's 11 (1960) film crew Frank Sinatra, are left. Lewis Milestone, standing with wrist on knee
Ocean's 11 (1960) film crew Frank Sinatra, are left. Lewis Milestone, standing with wrist on knee

"A formalist of the Left, Milestone was hailed as the American Eisenstein after All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and The Front Page (1931). It is of course possible, though not highly probable, that Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein himself might have ended up directing the Clan in Ocean's Eleven if he had remained in Hollywood." - Andrew Sarris, from American Cinema (1968)[250]

Milestone accepted an offer from Warner Brothers to produce and direct a picture for Dorchester Studios, Ocean's 11 a comedy-heist feature. The George Clayton Johnson story concerns of group of ex-military comrades who orchestrate an elaborate burglary of Las Vegas's biggest casinos. The movie stars the infamous Rat Pack, led by Frank Sinatra, who like the director, had been a supporter of the Committee for the First Amendment during the Red Scare. Milestone's historic success with both comedy films and combat sagas may have influenced Warner's decision to tap him for the film.[251]

Burdened with a "preposterous" screenplay by Harry Brown and Charles Lederer, Milestone delivered a film that equivocates between a pure satire of American acquisitiveness or its celebration.[252] The film is widely dismissed as unworthy of Milestone's talents, despite the success of Ocean's 11 at the box office.[253] Film critic David Walsh comments of Milestone's creative difficulties in his final years:

"[H]owever history had contrived to drop the somewhat improbable project in his lap, Milestone no doubt worked away conscientiously on Ocean's 11. He probably had little choice in the matter. Even in the last days of the studio system, directors were more or less at the beck and call of the studio chiefs. The more talented, working within an institutional strait jacket, struggled to imbue their genre projects with personal and social meaning, with varying degrees of success."[250]

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's remake of Frank Lloyd's 1935 version of the film starring Clark Gable and Charles Laughton was consistent with Hollywood's resort to blockbuster productions during the late Fifties. The studio risked over $20 million on the "ill-starred" 1962 Mutiny on the Bounty, and recovered less than half of its investment. [254]

The 65-year-old Milestone assumed directorial duties in February 1961 after filmmaker Carol Reed became disillusioned with the project due to inadequate scripting, abominable weather (on location in Tahiti) and interpretive disputes with leading man Marlon Brando. Milestone was tasked with bringing good order and discipline to the production, and to curb the "mercurial" Brando, who had clashed with Reed. Rather than inheriting a largely completed film, Milestone discovered that only a few scenes had been shot.[255]

The production history of the 1962 Mutiny on the Bounty emerges less as a coherent cinematic endeavor and more as a record of personal and professional recriminations registered by Milestone and Brando. In an effort to assert creative control over his character—the gentleman mutineer Fletcher Christian—Brando collaborated with screenwriters and off the set, independently of Milestone, leading the director to withdraw from some scenes and sequences and effectively relinquishing control to Brando.[256] Film critic Joseph R. Millichap refers to the film as "the Brando-Milestone" Mutiny on the Bounty, noting that "the story of this Hollywood disaster is long and complex, but the central figure in every sense is Marlon Brando, not Lewis Milestone."[257]

Not considered representative of the director's oeuvre, Mutiny on the Bounty is the final completed film for which Milestone was credited.[258]

Television and unrealized film projects: 1955–1965

After completing The Widow (La Vedova) (1955) Milestone returned to the United States in search of film projects. With the Hollywood studio system in decline, Milestone resorted to television to keep working. Five years would elapse before he completed another feature film.[259][260] In 1956–1957, Milestone partnered with actor-producer Kirk Douglas (who had debuted in Milestone's 1946 The Strange Love of Martha Ivers) to make a movie about a "Kane"-like tycoon, but King Kelly was abandoned after a year.[261]

Milestone directed episodes for television dramas in 1957. Among these were Alfred Hitchcock Presents (two episodes), Schlitz Playhouse (two episodes) and Suspicion (one episode). In 1958, Milestone directed actor Richard Boone (who debuted in Milestone's 1952 Kangaroo) in the television western Have Gun – Will Travel (two episodes[262] Milestone embarked upon the filming of Warner Brothers's PT 109 (1963), a biography of John F. Kennedy's experiences as a torpedo boat commander in the Pacific War. After several weeks of shooting Jack L. Warner removed Milestone from the project and replaced him with director Leslie H. Martinson, who received screen credit.[263]

Milestone found television productions unappealing, but returned to that medium after completing Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), directing the series Arrest and Trial (one episode) and for The Richard Boone Show (one episode), both in 1963.[264] Milestone's final cinematic effort was for a multinational joint venture with American International Pictures in 1965: La Guea Seno- The Dirty Game, for which he shot one episode before being replaced by Terence Young, due to his failing health.[265]

Several of Milestone's films—Seven Sinners, The Front Page, The Racket, and Two Arabian Knights—were preserved by the Academy Film Archive in 2016 and 2017.[266]

Death

Milestone experienced declining health in the Sixties and suffered a stroke in 1978 shortly after the death of his wife of 43-years Kendall Lee.[267]

After further illnesses, Milestone died on September 25, 1980 at the UCLA Medical Center, just five days before his 85th birthday.[268]

Lewis Milestone's final request before he died in 1980 was for Universal Studios to restore All Quiet on the Western Front to its original length. That request would eventually be granted nearly two decades later by Universal and other film preservation companies, and this restored version is what is widely seen today on television and home video. Milestone is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.[citation needed]

Critical appraisal

2003 stamp
2003 stamp

Lewis Milestone's oeuvre spans thirty-seven years (1925–1962), comprising 38 feature films. As such, he was one of the major contributors to screen art and entertainment during the Hollywood Golden Age.[269] Like most of his contemporary American filmmakers, Milestone's work encompassed both silent and sound eras. This is evident in Milestone's complex yet efficient style, blending the visual elements of Expressionism with the Realism which evolved with naturalistic sound."[270]

At the outset of talking pictures, the 29-year-old Milestone brought to bear his talents for an adaption of Erich Maria Remarque's compelling anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front, which stands as the director's magnum opus. The film is widely regarded as the high water mark of his career; Milestone's subsequent work never achieved the same artistic or critical success.[271] Biographer Kingsley Canham observed: "The problem of making a classic film early in a career is that it sets a standard of comparison for all future work that is in some instances unfair."[272] Milestone's films occasionally exhibit the technical inventiveness and bravura of All Quiet on the Western Front, but lack the director's commitments to a literary source or screenplay that informed his early classic.[273]

Milestone subsequent work in Hollywood included both outstanding and mediocre efforts, characterized by their eclecticism, but often lacking any clear artistic purpose. Perhaps the most predictable feature was an application of his technical talents.[274] Film critic Andrew Sarris remarked that "Milestone's fluid camera style has always been dissociated from any personal viewpoint. He is almost the classic example of the uncommitted director...his professionalism is as unyielding as it is meaningless."[275] Kingsley Canham acknowledges this assessment, commenting that "time and again Milestone's career has been written off because of his lack of commitment or to involvement in his work..."[276] Biographer Joseph R. Millichap links Milestone's "profuse, eclectic, and uneven body of work" to the imperatives of the Hollywood film industry:

"Milestone's creativity was rooted in the studio system. Both his best and worst movies resulted from his pragmatic commitment to the cinematic transformation of literary properties presented by the production system...both his strong points and his limitations were generated by that Hollywood system. When he applied his cinematic style to 'strong literary matter' memorable films resulted; but when he was assigned weak, trivial material, the results were usually mediocre."[277]

Film critic and biographer Richard Koszarski considers Milestone "one of the Thirties more independent spirits...but like many of the pioneer directors...his relation to the studio system at the height of its [executive] powers was not a productive one."[278] Koszarski offers a metaphor that Milestone had applied to his own final works:

...the latter part of [Milestone]'s career was marked by only sporadic flashes of creativity, a veritable forest of saplings graced by only one or two solitary oaks.[279]

Academy Awards

Year Award Film Result
1927–28 Academy Award for Best Director (Comedy) Two Arabian Knights Won
1929–30 Academy Award for Best Director All Quiet on the Western Front Won
1930–31 Academy Award for Best Director The Front Page Nominated
1939 Academy Award for Best Picture Of Mice and Men Nominated

Filmography

Footnotes

  1. ^ Leib Milstein at RootsWeb'sConnect Project
  2. ^ "Behind the Camera - Mutiny on the Bounty ('62)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  3. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 26: "...born in Odessa [into] a clan of prominent Russian Jews....his father a well-off manufacturer..." And: "...until 1919, Milestone retained his surname, Milstein." And: his cousin Nathan Milstein, an accomplished violinist.
    Silver, 2010: "Lewis Milestone (1895–1980) was born Lev Milstein near Odessa, Ukraine."
    Barson, 2020: "Lewis Milestone, original name Lev Milstein, born September 30, 1895, in Kishinyov, Russia [now Chișinău, Moldova]."
    Robinson, 1970 pp. 141-142: "Lewis Milestone was born in Kishmev, Ukraine..."
    Canham, 1974 p. 72: "...born in the Ukraine, near Odessa…"
  4. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 72: "His formal education took place in Russia [then] his parents sent him to a German engineering school in Mittweida, Saxony..."
  5. ^ Robinson, 1970 p. 141: "after commercial studies in Europe reached America, apparently as an illegal immigrant, just before the First World War."
  6. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 72: Milestone abandoned his academic studies and "used his return fare home at the end of the [school] term to emigrate to New York...on arrival he was [temporarily] financed by an aunt but ran out of funds…" His appeal for financial support from his father in Russia was rejected.
  7. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 26-27: See section The Director's Early Life And p. 27: "...free of family restrictions [in the United States], he felt he might realize his dream of a theatrical career…"
  8. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 27: Milestone recalls cable as "You are in the land of opportunity, so use your own judgement" from his interview with Millichap in 1979. And: Milestone had borrowed money from an aunt in New York and "had a holiday" in the City. "When the money ran out, he cabled his father for more funds."
  9. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 72: Canham offers a variation of the quote: "You are in the land of labor and liberty, so use your own judgement."
  10. ^ Strago, 2017: "...his father, a clothing manufacturer, advised him by letter, 'You are in the land of liberty and labor, so use your own judgment'..."
  11. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 26-27: he held a series of odd jobs, including janitor, door-to-door salesman and machine operation in a lace factory...In 1915 [he secured a job] as a photographer's assistant...more to his liking... [then became] a theatrical photographer..." And p. 27: In 1917, upon America's entry into WWI "he enlisted in the photography section of the Signal Corps [performing] aerial photography [and shooting] training films...also edited combat footage..." And: Sternberg and Fleming mentioned.
  12. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 72: "He began work as a factory sweeper, then became a salesman and finally a photographic assistant. The latter job stood him in good stead when he enlisted in the Signal corps in 1917" where he worked as "an assistant in the making of army training films."
    Barson, 2020: "During World War I he served as an assistant director on training films for the U.S. Army."
    Whiteley, 2020: Milestone "received a thorough grounding in all aspects of filmmaking [with the Signal Corps], which would prove invaluable in the years to come."
  13. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 27-28: Upon discharge from the Army in 1919 "Milestone became a [US] citizen and changed his name [from Milstein to Milestone] at the suggestion of the [immigration] judge…" And: "Jesse D. Hampton, an independent film producer...Milestone asked for a job in [Hollywood] movies; the only thing available was assistant editor…"
  14. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 72: "...he left the army in 1919 and headed for Hollywood, where he found employment as a cutter with Jesse Hampton" a former army comrade, now 'independent producer.'.."
  15. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 28: An unpublished interview with Mark Lambert, see Millichap footnote. And: See p. 28 for comparison to 1913 arrival in America.
    Silver, 2010: Silver describes Milestone as "émigré, not "immigrant"
    Koszarski, 1976 p. 317: "...Milestone was a Russian émigré..."
  16. ^ Strago, 2017: "Like most great pioneer filmmakers, Milestone led an adventurous life before he hit the soundstage."
  17. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 28: For Hampton he performed "a multitude of off jobs...sweeping floors and running errands...editing work consisted merely of splicing films...[but] "personal contacts would prove valuable in his steady advancement...became King's general assistant" in 1920
  18. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 72: Began work as "a cutter"...And: "...promoted to the role of general assistant" for Henry King.
  19. ^ Barson, 2020: "He launched his Hollywood career in 1920, working for Henry King."
  20. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 28
  21. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 72: "For the next six years [1921–1926] Milestone took on jobs in any capacity available: he assisted William A. Seiter, wrote scenarios and treatments and did some editing..."
  22. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 28-29: "Warners often lent out the young editor to other studios at several times his salary..."
  23. ^ Robinson, 1970 pp. 141–142: "...After varied work in Hollywood, he emerged as a writer on Alan Crosland's Bobbed Hair (1925) and a director on Seven Sinners, made later the same year…"
    Barson, 2020: "In 1925 Milestone made his directorial debut with Seven Sinners; he also wrote the screenplay."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 30: "Milestone offered Warner a story idea he had created himself if he could direct it himself. Warner took the bait..."
    Rhodes, 2020: "Milestone had honed his career in comedies, writing the scripts for The Mad Whirl (1925), The Teaser (1925), and Bobbed Hair (1925), all of which humorously depicted the jazz-crazed youth of the Roaring Twenties."
  24. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 72: ".. he was given a chance to direct a Marie Prevost vehicle, Seven Sinners (1925)."
  25. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 30: "Milestone's career as a director was launched."
    Strago, 2017: "The New York Times critic called Milestone's first feature, Seven Sinners (1925), made for Warner Bros., the best recent picture he'd seen at Warner's flagship theater, but Milestone chafed at studio demands. Happily, Hughes soon formed his own company and, in 1927, the young director went to work for him."
  26. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 30-31: "By 1926 [Warners] was paying Milestone $400 a week [but] loaning him out as a film doctor at the rate of $1000 a week and more...Milestone demanded the difference…" and broke his contract when Warners refused.
    Canham, 1974 pp. 72-73: "...Warners and Milestone capitalized [on the success of Seven Sinners by finishing a second comedy vehicle two months later...The Caveman (1926)....contemporary reviewers lavished praise on Milestone's adroit direction, and his ability to switch from sophisticated comedy through slapstick to suspense."
  27. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 31: Milestone "a rising talent"...and one of "the years graduates of Paramount 'School of Stars" "...And: "...he quarreled with [Swanson] and left the film..."
    Canham, 1974 p. 73: Critics were less pleased with Milestone's The New Klondike (1926) "[but] the fact that it was filmed on location in Florida gives some indication of Milestone's rising status as a director."
  28. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 73: "He made only one film during 1927, but it proved to be his most important silent work [Two Arabian Knights]." And: "He left Warners after the Prevost pictures, working under several banners over the next few years [among them] the Caddo Company...owned by Howard Hughes..." And: "his first war film...the comical adventures of two American doughboys..." And pp. 73-74: Two Arabian Knights "was made to cash in on the popularity of director Raoul Walsh's What Price Glory (1926), for the relationships between the central characters are identical, and the two films shared one of the writers, James T. O'Donahue. Whereas Walsh's film won plaudits for an earthy, rugged humor, Milestone's relied on intelligent acting at the expense of any slapstick comedy, a quality which helped win him the Academy Award for best direction."
  29. ^ Silver, 2010: "... he had won a "Best Comedy Direction" statuette for Two Arabian Knights (1927), beating out Charles Chaplin's The Circus.
    Barson, 2020: Barson notes that "In 1930 the comedy and drama categories were merged" by the Academy of Arts and Sciences.
    Millichap, 1981 pp. 31-32: "Milestone's talents were recognized when he signed a four-year contract [with] Caddo..." And p. 32: "...triangle..."
    Koszarski, 1976 p. 317: "...his silent films were hailed for their freshness and vigor...the best of them The Caveman, Two Arabian Knights, The Racket..."
  30. ^ Canham, 1974 pp. 74–75: Written by "one of Lubitsch's favorite writers,... The Garden of Eden was a comedy-drama...written by Hans Kraly, and once more Milestone's deft direction of players enhanced the often acidic sophistication of his material."
  31. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 32: "...Milestone's visual production obviously recalls the work of Lubitsch..." And: "...impressive production included lavish sets [by] Menzies and excellent camera work by John Arnold."
  32. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 32
  33. ^ Robinson, 1970 p. 43: "The most distinguished early gangster films were unquestionably the von Sternberg series (Underworld, The Drag Net, The Docks of New York) and Lewis Milestone's The Racket. Gangster films were however to reach their notable peak in the next decade."
    Canham, 1974 p. 75: "Possibly to avoid type-casting as a comedy director, he change pace with his third picture for Hughes, The Racket (1928), a gutty drama of gang-war and political corruption..."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 32: "The Racket...influenced by Josef von Sternberg's Underworld (1927)..."
    Cady, 2004 TCM: "The Racket (1928) was one of the movies that started the cycle of gangster pictures that would lead to Little Caesar (1931), The Public Enemy (1931) and Scarface (1932)."
  34. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 75: Reception was "marred by a release date among a plethora of similar gangster films of variable quality."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 34: Best Picture nomination.
  35. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 34-35: Millichap notes that "for some reason" Milestone was credited for the film. And: Tin Pan Alley "justly forgotten."
  36. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 35
  37. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 75: Milestone's "first talkie, New York Lights (1929)...a highly dramatic gangster film, scripted by Jules Furthman and photographed by Ray June, but it gave little indication of Milestone's ability in adapting to sound techniques."
  38. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 38: "generally regarded as...his masterpiece...in terms of both subject and style." And: p. 53: "...remains Lewis Milestone's most important film."
    Baxter, 1970 pp. 132-133: "All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) is still one of the most eloquent of anti-war documents...one of the acknowledged classics of the American cinema."
    Thomson, 2015: "It is still one of the best films about the Great War."
  39. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 38: "the director had his first chance to translate a powerful literary statement into cinematic language...perhaps the best war film ever made." And: Editor's Forward: Milestone: "Throughout my career I've tried, not so much to express a philosophy, as to restate in filmic terms...my agreement with the author of a story I like is trying to say." And from Preface: "...like William Wyler, a cinematic interpreter of literary texts."
  40. ^ Thomson, 2015: "The novel sold 2.5 million copies in twenty-two languages...it was purchased for pictures by Carl Laemmle Jr., head of production at Universal and son of the studio's founder."
    Silver, 2010: "On top of the worldwide success of Remarque's novel, the film made lots of money."
  41. ^ Strago, 2017
  42. ^ Koszarski, 1983: "It was a standing joke in Hollywood that Laemmle's studio was staffed with personal relatives and lansmen...as a German speaking émigré himself, Erich von Stroheim was able to play directly to Laemmle's sentimental attachments [to his German roots]".
  43. ^ Thomson, 2015: "For English and American audiences (it was banned for years in France), a part of the novelty in All Quiet is watching 'enemy' soldiers and realizing they are just like our own."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 38: quoting Milestone, from an interview with Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg, See footnotes. And p. 39: "terse, tough" is Millichap's appraisal. And: "the horrors...of the trenches..."
    Canham, 1974 p. 80: "...the script wisely chose to concentrate upon the effects of war on individual characters, instead of making wordy statements about the nature of war."
  44. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 78: "shot on location at the Irving Ranch...almost unique in the they were largely shot in sequence." (italics in original)
    Thomson, 2015: "Except that All Quiet on the Western Front was shot with two cameras, one for a sound film, and the other for a film that has music and sound effects, but no dialogue."
  45. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 81: "Above all it was the technique of Milestone's film that rightly led to his fame [overcoming] the problems of adapting photographic needs to the demands of [early] sound recordings." And: "...crane shots of soldiers being mowed down as they try to cross a field..." And:"...above all it was the technique of Milestone's film that rightly led to his fame. The [camera] movement became the message at a time when talkies were reputed to be static and stage bound because of the problems of adapting photograph needs to the demands of sound recording" suggesting that the limitation of early sound technology "may have been exaggerated by early sound historians and that "certainly Milestone's work is one those exceptions."
  46. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 37-38: "...Milestone was able to combine the Realism of sound in both dialogue and effects with the Expressionistic visual techniques he had learned as a silent editor and director." (Capitalization of keywords in original) And: see these pages for Milestone quotations.
  47. ^ Thomson, 2015: "The film was a triumph and you feel its sophisticated vision...with a feeling for depth and striking compositions that were new in 1930. Milestone became famous for aerial tracking shots of troops crossing no man's land..."
  48. ^ Silver, 2010: "In addition to Milestone's directing Oscar, it won for Best Picture was nominated for screenplay and cinematography.
  49. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 38
    Thomson, 2015: "The film was a triumph...as much of a sensation as the novel...audiences came in huge numbers. All Quiet took an Academy Award for best picture and Milestone won for director. It is still one of the best films about the Great War,"
    Whitely, 2020: "This magnificent movie remains a powerful indictment of war. It was adapted from the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, and won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director for Milestone, and received a special commendation from the Nobel Peace Prize committee."
  50. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 82: "The high quality of Milestone's directorial abilities [after All Quiet on the Western Front] had opened up a broad spectrum of opportunity for him, but the pitfalls of fame and the studio system were not to be forgotten."
  51. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 82: "Probably the most famous of all newspaper dramas...backed by sparkling dialogue [and] hard, fast, and ruthless pace...Milestone's control of dialogue and performances set a new "house standard" at Warner Brothers [and] sparked off a cycle of newspaper films,,,"
    Wood, 2003: "The definitive fever-pitch newspaper comedy, [the] 1928 play The Front Page is a cornerstone of the screwball [film] genre."
    Strago, 2017: Hughes and Milestone "stuck close to the original play... a trendsetter when it first hit the screen in 1931. It became famous, sometimes infamous, for its frankness about sleazy backroom politics and reckless, sensationalist newspapers...it made rapid-fire, overlapping dialogue fashionable."
  52. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 60: "The success of The Front Page created a spate of newspaper films, so that the type became almost a genre during the 1930s." And p. 54: "Milestone's The Front Page remains the finest film, the best artistic success of the three." And p. 53: On Hawks' and Wilder's remakes
    Wood, 2003: "...serving as the foundation for several big-screen classics...innumerable imitations that followed in its wake, transforming the fast-talking, conniving reporter into a bona fide cinematic icon."
  53. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 53: "...Hughes considered Cagney 'a little runt' while Gable's ears reminded him "of a taxi-cab with both doors open'..." And: O'Brien's film debut. And: "Casting became the major production difficulty in the Milestone filming of The Front Page…[leading man] Pat O'Brien was too clean-cut and sincere [for the part of] Hildy Johnson, but his antagonist, the ruthless editor Walter Burns, was toned down considerably by the dapper Adolph Menjou, who had played only sophisticated ladies men…"
  54. ^ Higham, 1973 p. 127
  55. ^ Millichap, 1981 Composite quote form pp. 53, 55 and 60. Note: capitalized words in the original.
  56. ^ Strago, 2017: Milestone "maintains a cinematic style even when the setups are utterly theatrical."
  57. ^ Baxter, 1970 p. 133: "Howard Hawk's remake His Girl Friday (1940) succeeded far better because of his skill with fast conversation and the Hawks-invented idea of making the reporter character a woman Rosalind Russell
  58. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 82: "The visual signature of [Milestone's] long tracking shots is there at the opening, with a stunning track through the newspaper machine room…"
  59. ^ Strago, 2017: Milestone "achieves some spectacular effects, like the camera traveling with Molly as she confronts a row of reporters—it's as if she were a prisoner facing down a firing line [and] when Milestone takes you on a tour of the Morning Post, the camera follows Menjou's Burns as he strides through the printing plant, with the heavy machinery of a thriving industry rumbling behind him."
  60. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 54: Milestone "at the height of his creative powers" with The Front Page. And p. 60: Section on Rain (1932), listed as top director with Film Daily.
    Strago, 2017: The Front Page "augmented Lewis Milestone's stature as a director and Howard Hughes's as a producer."
    Strago, 2017: "...Dwight Macdonald said it was 'widely considered to be the best movie of 1931'..."
    Koszarski, 1976 p. 317: "...his most important films were from the early talkie period, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Front Page..."
  61. ^ Baxter, 1970 pp. 48-49: "...Frank Borzage, Lewis Milestone and King Vidor [had attempted to creat with DeMille] an independent production group called The Director's Guild..."
  62. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 60: "Milestone [sought] to form a small independent production unit under the creative control of the directors themselves."
    Durgnat and Simmon 1988 pp. 172-173: "The colleagues most actively committed to the plan [The Screen Directors Guild] were Lewis Milestone and director Gregory La Cava..." And: Milestone "among its founding members..." And other directors who favored a guild were Herbert Biberman and Henry King.
    Whitely, 2020: "Milestone was a founding member of the Directors Guild and was one of the few major directors of the Golden Age to work as a freelance, refusing every opportunity to sign long-term contracts with the big studios."
  63. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 85: "...the strong European influence at Paramount was on the wane, a factor that might be very relevant in accessing Milestone's apparent decline in the mid-Thirties."
  64. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 82: "The high quality of Milestone's directorial abilities opened up a broad spectrum of opportunity to him, but the pitfalls of fame and the studio system were not to be forgotten."
  65. ^ Millichap, 1981 Preface: "When Milestone combined strong literary matter with his cinematic style, the result was memorable cinema. When stuck with a weak literary vehicle, an indifferent production team, or studio miscasting, he often produced mediocre results. "
    Koszarski, 1976 p. 317: "...by the late 30s the innovative flair that had marked his earlier work had dampened..."
  66. ^ Baxter, 1971 p. 135: Regarding Paramount finances, bankruptcy.
  67. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 62: Dramatists John Colton and Clemence Randolph, with Maugham's blessing, mounted a stage production of the work in 1922, entitled Rain, that ran for three years with Jeanne Eagels in the lead role. The play was revived in 1935 with Tallulah Bankhead. A silent film adaption appeared in 1928, directed by Raoul Walsh starring Gloria Swanson and Lionel Barrymore. A 1944 musical version was staged with June Havoc in 1944, and Rita Hayworth starred in the 1953 film adaption Miss Sadie Thompson.
  68. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 83
  69. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 63: "Crawford's "performance in Rain, like the film, has been generally panned, and almost every comment on the film insists she was miscast...[v]eiwed today, Crawford's interpretation generates considerable power…it seems hard to discover a screen actress who could have done better with the role."
  70. ^ Miller, 2007: Crawford: "I don't understand to this day how I could have given such an unpardonable bad performance. All my fault, too -- Milestone's direction was so feeble I took the bull by the horns and did my own Sadie Thompson. I was wrong every scene of the way."
  71. ^ Miller, 2007: "Although the Rev. Davidson was made a reformer rather than a missionary and references to his sexless marriage were dropped, it was still quite clear that he raped her and then committed suicide."
    Canham, 1974 p. 84: "...subjects involving the Church had to be handled with kid gloves" even in the Pre-Code period.
    Millichap, 1981 p. 63: Huston's "characterization of the maniacal missionary Davidson has also received scant approval." And p. 67: On the rape of Thompson.
  72. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 84: "The resulting film was slow and stage-bound, enlivened only by the fervor of Walter Houston's bigot."
  73. ^ Baxter, 1970 p. 133: Rain (1932) with Joan Crawford as Sadie Thomson and Walter Houston as the minister, was stiff and stagey."
  74. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 84: "Milestone was definitely courting fate when he took the material completely seriously since the language had to be toned down considerably" whereas as a silent film treatment could eliminate explicit verbal passages through "visual suggestion...but the talkies had to talk."
  75. ^ Arnold, 2009 TCM: "Al Jolson vanished from movie screens for nearly three years. When he finally did reappear, it was in perhaps the most offbeat and innovative film of his career...it proved to be the biggest nail in his professional coffin. Hollywood producers no longer considered him a star of the first magnitude."
  76. ^ Millchap, 1981 p. 69: Milestone engaged Rogers and Hart "to liven the script through the device of rhythmic dialogue" which they had used to good effect in Rouben Mamoulian's Love Me Tonight (1932). (Milestone specifically denies the influence of Mamoulian Lubitsch" on his 1933 film.
  77. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 69: "...the public chose not to be diverted." And p. 70: "sing-song fashion" in delivery. And: "The 1930s seemed a strange time to be sentimentalizing tramps..." Also see p. 77: "...the film's ambiguity about economic issues...shattered any artistic unity Milestone might have created..."
    Arnold, 2009 TCM: "he songwriters not only penned several new songs...but they wrote sections of rhythmic, rhyming dialogue - much as they had for their recent pictures Love Me Tonight (1932) and The Phantom President (1932). This is where much of the film's innovative effect lies."
  78. ^ Baxter, 1970 p. 133: "...an attempt at a socially conscious Depression [era] musical...seemed like half-baked Rouben Mamoulian."
    Canham, 1974 pp. 84-85: Milestone "struck out again [after Rain] with Hallelujah, I'm a Bum...at this point in his career, Milestone seemed to be faltering..."
    Arnold, 2009: "...on Feb. 8, 1933, the picture finally opened in New York City. Most of the reviews were poor..."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 69:"...only interesting as a rather bizarre failure." And p. 77: "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum is not so much as bad film as it is a strange one." And p. 79: "After completing Hallelujah, I'm a Bum, Milestone began work late in 1933 on a more serious project..."
  79. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 79
  80. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 85
  81. ^ a b Millichap, 1981 p. 82
  82. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 79-80: "...promised 50% of the profits..."
  83. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 79-80: See p. 80 for use of alcohol by the cast on set. And: "...in all the film has a sort of improvised air..." And: "...ill feelings..." between Milestone and Cohen.
    Canham, 1974 p. 85: "...a ship-board fairy tale starring John Gilbert and Victor McLaglen, The Captain Hates the Sea ended Gilbert's career…"
    Baxter, 1970 pp. 133-134: "...the last picture of a declining John Gilbert, ulcer-ridden and alcoholic, lurching through his last screen appearance."
  84. ^ Steffen, 2010 TCM: "It didn't help that the cast was full of legendary drinkers, ...According to Milestone, at one point Cohn wired him: HURRY UP. THE COSTS ARE STAGGERING. To which Milestone wired back: SO IS THE CAST." (Capitals in original)
  85. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 81: "His first two efforts [in sound] for Paramount were musical Programmers...might have shot by almost anyone in the studio." And p. 82: "...his only work in the genre..."
  86. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 110: Filmograph section: "...designed to boost the careers of the two leads; Carminati had just made a similar, highly successful film with Grace Moore, and Mary Ellis was being launched as Paramount's answer to Moore."
  87. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 81: "Paramount was using Mary Ellis...in the same type of role" as Grace Moore.
  88. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 81: "the proceedings are pretty even Milestone's tries to liven things up with some fancy camera work." And: Dreier creates "a reasonable facsimile of Paris..."
  89. ^ Baxter, 1970 p. 134: "Paris in Spring and Anything Goes were innocuous…"
  90. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 85: "Paris in Spring ...did little for Milestone…"
  91. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 85: "...Anything Goes...did little for Milestone..."
  92. ^ Baxter, 1970 p. 134: "Paris in Spring and Anything Goes were innocuous..."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 82: "It seems that Milestone has little feel for the musical genre...[Anything Goes] might have been created by any studio workhorse."
  93. ^ Baxter, 1970 p. 134: Paris in Spring (1935) and Anything Goes (1936) were innocuous, but then, late in 1936, Milestone gave a film which, for style and content, is one of the Thirties undoubted masterpieces." And: "Milestone considered the film of little consequence, having adapted it from a pulp magazine story to keep himself occupied between pictures."
    Canham, 1974 p. 85: "...The General Died at Dawn displayed a marked return to form, and heralded a European revival continued by Lubitsch and Billy Wilder"
  94. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 83-84: His three previous films "insignificant" And: Josef von Sternberg "an old friend...[Milestone] might have been influenced in [his] choice of materials and...styles of handling them..."
    Canham, 1974 p. 86: "It was a stylized drama, visually as well as thematically reminiscent of Josef von Sternberg's The Shanghai Express (1932)."
  95. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 82-83: Millichap refers to Odets as "Leftist" And: the film's "pulpy background" source
  96. ^ Baxter, 1970 p. 134: Baxter provides a detailed description of the opening Cooper/O'Hara sketch.
  97. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 82: "...the film holds up well both as entertainment and art..."
    Baxter, 1970 pp. 134-135: Carroll's Judy Perrie characterization is "perfectly realized..."
    Canham, 1974 p. 87: "...the skill of the script...and the acting itself combine to lift it out of the mainstream of adventure pictures that used the inscrutable Orient as a backdrop…" And p. 86: "The effortless ease with which [Milestone] sketches the Gary Cooper character..." And p. 87: "The biggest impact is in Madeline Carroll's portrayal of Judy Perrie as a frightened lost girl..."
  98. ^ Higham p. 130: “...extraordinary use of dissolves” in the billiard ball/doorknob. And “In many ways, the film was as technically exacting as anything in the oeuvre of Orson Welles.”
    Canham, 1974 p. 87: "...bravura camera techniques such as split screen images or a dissolve match cut from a billiard ball to a white door knob..."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 83: "The General Died at Dawn remains bravura effort of split screens and match dissolves, almost a compendium of things a camera could do to tell a story." And p. 87: See here for description of "billiard ball" match cut.
    Baxter, 1970 pp. 134-135: "Milestone engineers one of the most...expert match shots on record, dissolving from a billiard ball to a round white door knob, which then turns to take us into the bar next door. And: "In terms of cinematic invention, The General Died at Dawn is a fascinating technical exercise [and] shows the breadth of that technique." And: On a 4-way split screen. And: "The [film's] finale.. is a bravura piece of direction..."
  99. ^ Baxter, 1970 p. 134: "...for style and content, one of the Thirties' undoubted masterpieces." And p. 135: "The finale, with Victor Milner's camera tracking sinuously through the Hans Dreier and Ernst Fegte Chinese junk sets, is a bravura piece of direction, a fitting finale to this, Milestone's most exquisite and exciting if not most meaningful examination of social friction in a human context." And p. 134: "Milestone considered the film of little consequence…" And p. 136: See here for final quote "human context."
  100. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 82: Millichap considers Baxter's "masterpiece" designation "somewhat lavish" but he agrees that "the film holds up very well both as entertainment and art.
    Canham, 1974 p. 87: "The first symphonic musical score composed for a film by Werner Janssen..."
  101. ^ Millichap, 181 p. 92: "...three-year hiatus...at the height of his career."
  102. ^ Canham, 1974 pp. 87-88: "The success of The General Died at Dawn should have revitalized Milestone's career; instead he found himself involved in a series of unfulfilled projects that kept his work off the screen for three years…"
  103. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 88: Censorship prevented [Milestone] from filming Vincent Sheean's Personal History (1935) for Walter Wanger..." And p. 88: "Sam Goldwyn commissioned [Milestone] and Clifford Odets to write a screenplay for Dead End, but then turned the project over the William Wyler..."
  104. ^ Millichap, 1981: from Preface: "...like William Wyler, a cinematic interpreter of literary texts."
  105. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 88: "...the film is very infrequently shown today, and was merely a stand-by piece that Milestone filmed solely to keep working."
  106. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. "Hans Dreier's sets are the best feature of the film."
  107. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 88: "...in 1938 Hal Roach asked him to film a project entitled Road Show...after some initial work on the screenplay, Roach shelved the project...then directed it himself…...
    Millichap, 1981 p. 93: Details of Milestone/Roach litigation and resolution.
  108. ^ Criterion Collection, 2014: "Director Lewis Milestone took on the project to fulfill a contractual obligation to producer Hal Roach as part of a lawsuit's settlement."
  109. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 94: Milestone work "almost completely a personal project, a labor of love." And: "...immediately concluding that the story would make an excellent film."
    Tatara, 2009 TCM: "...this adaptation of John Steinbeck's grim but strangely humanistic novel is a bit dated in its moralizing..."
    Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 77-78: "...the film's acting is more stylized than naturalistic...this is perfectly in keeping with its essential character as a morality play, a bit contrived perhaps, but nonetheless sincere and affecting."
  110. ^ Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 75: "Although belonging technically to the succeeding decade [1940s], films like...Of Mice and Men were really Thirties projects, deriving their intellectual and emotional sustenance from the era of the New Deal and the Group Theatre." And: "...takes place against a background of economic misery..."
  111. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 95: "...Of Mice and Men...presents a topic that was common in the 1930s- the lives and deaths of little people disoriented and dispossessed by the conditions of the modern world."
    Canham, 1974 p. 88: Hal Roach insisted upon "a small budget and a rapid shooting schedule...the timing and haste of the project [may have] stemmed from [Roach's] desire to cash in the on the possible success of John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath, a film with similar themes..."
  112. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 94: See here for remarks in quotations.
    Criterion, 2014: "Steinbeck, so often ambivalent to adaptations of his work and having had little to do with the successful adaptation of Of Mice and Men to the stage in 1937 (much to the chagrin of play's producer), approved of Milestone's film most of all."
  113. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 97: "...perhaps the first use of this now common [prologue] device…"
  114. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 96: "Milestone's film version Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men in its anti-omniscient viewpoint...increasing the complexity and the ambiguity of the work because of the lack of editorial judgement." And p. 104: "...Milestone's version Of Mice and Men [is] as powerful as Steinbeck's...one which demonstrates the convergence of realistic fictional and cinematic styles."
  115. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 94: As such, Milestone "conferred carefully on image motifs" with art director Nicolai Remisoff, and cameraman Norbert Brodine] competently filmed the piece...and Milestone "was much concerned with sound motifs" enlisting Aaron Copland to do the musical score."
  116. ^ Canham, 1974 pp. 89-90
  117. ^ Criterion, 2014: "...Lewis Milestone's Of Mice and Men (1939) was a critical success and the film garnered four Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Sound Recording (Elmer A. Raguse), Best Musical Score (Aaron Copland), and Best Original Score (Aaron Copland).
  118. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 88: Roach insisted on "a small budget and a rapid shooting schedule..." And p. 89: "...the stylized acting (in this] morality play)...was well-served by the...talents of Lon Chaney, Jr. in his only major roles in an "A" film..."
  119. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 94: "...Milestone cast very carefully...Lon Chaney, Jr. played Lennie in a Los Angeles production of the play, and the film offered this ill-used actor a chance to escape monster roles...the supporting cast...are uniformly excellent."
    Tatara, 2009 TCM: "Milestone saw something in [Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr.] and both men deliver arguably the best work of their respective careers in the film."
  120. ^ Criterion, 2014: "...Lewis Milestone's Of Mice and Men (1939) was a critical success and the film garnered four Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Sound Recording (Elmer A. Raguse), Best Musical Score (Aaron Copland), and Best Original Score (Aaron Copland). While this achievement might sound reasonably impressive alone, it's downright stellar when one considers that the film received these recognition in 1939, Hollywood's greatest year."
  121. ^ Tatara, 2009 TCM: "The film's tragic, violent ending is one of the most memorable in all of movie history. Audiences at the time were so troubled by this narrative of slowly-rising defeat, the film failed miserably at the box office. Apparently, it was one thing to read such a thing, but another altogether to watch it unfold onscreen." And: "...the film failed miserably at the box office."
    Higham and Greenberg, 1968 pp. 77-78: "...George's (Burgess Merideth) mercy-killing of Lennie (Lon Chaney, Jr.) takes place against a background of economic misery [and] as a morality play, a bit contrived perhaps, but nonetheless sincere and affecting."
  122. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 104, quoting a Charles Higham source, see Millichap footnotes.
  123. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 104: "Milestone's Hollywood reputation took another upward turn after Of Mice and Men [when] he signed a contract with RKO, where he was given his own production unit."
    Canham, 1974 p. 90: "A two picture deal with RKO offered Milestone a double comedy package with Ronald Colman as star..."
  124. ^ Canham, 1974 pp. 90-91
    Millichap, 1981 p. 104: "In quick succession he ground out two light comedies with the aging Ronald Coleman as the lead." And: "Either film might have been directed by any dozen of studios regulars...overall they are simply uninspired fare...once again Milestone's career seemed in the doldrums."
    Barson, 2020: "...the forgettable comedies Lucky Partners (1940) and My Life with Caroline (1941),..
    Tartara, 2011. TCM: "Milestone was more of a technical innovator than anything else, and never showed much flair for comedy. His movies were hardly light on their feet."
  125. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 105: "...My Life With Caroline was released in August 1941. Within a few months America would be at war, and one of the home-front industries would become the production of war movies...Milestone, his reputation for All Quiet on the Western Front [and he would] enter another career cycle..."
  126. ^ Silver, 2010: "World War II provided the opportunity to rejuvenate the reputation he had established with All Quiet."
  127. ^ Silver, 2010: Silver quotes Sarris's observation that in Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front "the orgasmic violence of war is celebrated as much as it is condemned."
    Canham, 1974 p. 104: "All Quiet on the Western Front contains as many scenes of violence as any of his other war films; as Milestone himself said in an interview in Action (July–August 1972): 'How can you make a pacifist film without showing the violence of war?'"
  128. ^ Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 96: "Although the U.S. did not officially enter WWII until 1941, Hollywood was well aware of what was happening in Europe..."
    Silver, 2010: "casting a cold eye on warfare...was a problem for Lewis Milestone [in 1930 and All Quiet on the Western Front], and it remains a problem today [for filmmakers]."
    Millichap, 1981 pp. 107–108: "...climate of opinion..." And see here for "...the transformation of his attitude toward war…" And: During the Second World War "Milestone's efforts [during WWII] tend more toward propaganda than art" And re: Hollywood's and Milestone's shift to anti-Nazi war films. And: Milestone "a liberal intellectual...viewed the rise of totalitarian Fascism with considerable alarm...after Pearl Harbor... [Milestone] became convinced that armed resistance to Fascism was the only course of action…[and] he placed his art at the service of an [anti-fascist] ideal..."
  129. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 108-109
    Canham, 1974 p. 91
    Barson, 2020: "...Milestone collaborated with Dutch director Joris Ivens on Our Russian Front (1942), a documentary (narrated by Walter Huston)..."
  130. ^ Silver, 2010: "World War II provided the opportunity to rejuvenate the reputation he had established with All Quiet, but Edge of Darkness, The North Star, The Purple Heart, A Walk in the Sun, Arch of Triumph (another adaptation of a novel by All Quiet author Erich Maria Remarque), and, later, Halls of Montezuma only intermittently tipped the scales in Milestone's favor."
  131. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 30-31
  132. ^ Erickson, 2010. TCM: "Edge of Darkness adopts an entirely different approach to laud the fierce resistance of proud Norwegian patriots. Robert Rossen's unsubtle, humorless screenplay takes every Nazi-imposed hardship in deadly earnest"
  133. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 109: See footnote, quoted from an interview with Ezra Goodman in Theatre Arts Magazine, February, 1943.
  134. ^ Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 104: "...a stereotyped exercise in predictable propaganda." And see p. 99-100 for description of stereotypes and scenarios typical of Hollywood propaganda.
    Millchap, 1981 p. 109: "...severe limitations imposed by the propagandist weight of [the film's] message."
  135. ^ Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 104
  136. ^ Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 104
    Erickson, 2010. TCM: "The intent of Edge of Darkness is to shock the audience with oppressive Nazi measures...Stoic solidarity is the only response; as the screenplay emphasizes the need for a communal vengeance." And: '"The revolt of the townspeople is very much a fantasy."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 109
    Canham, 1974 p. 91: The film uses "a formula of the Hollywood propaganda movie…'
  137. ^ Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 100: "...Bronx accented [European] patriots...'p. 104: "...the too frequent casting of Americans as Europeans..."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 109: Milestone described the cast as "extremely mixed." And p. 110: Millichap reports "...difficulties of characterization and casting..." And; Other than Walter Huston "the rest of the cast is eminently forgettable..." And: "severe personal problems" that plagued cast members. And: "New York accents"
    Erickson, 2010 TCM: "The movie would probably have been better without any recognizable stars.
    Millichap, 1981 p. 115: "...weighed down by its single-minded theme..."
  138. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 111-112: Overall "...Milestone does only a competent job in terms of cinematic style [with] an undistinguished realist style...few extreme effects are attempted [and] seems more motivated by a failure of creativity than a commitment to realism."
  139. ^ Erickson, 2010. TCM: "Director Lewis Milestone keeps his camera moving, over-using the signature fast-tracking shot he introduced to startling effect in his classic All Quiet on the Western Front. Shot after shot rakes across lines of charging patriots, turning the camera into a machine gun. Cameraman Sid Hickox frequently employs a zoom lens, a gadget that didn't see much use until the 1960s. The technically slick movie employs plenty of unconvincing but dramatic miniatures."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 113: See here for description of the scene."...unfortunately, the rest of the movie falls off from this high point..."
  140. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 91
  141. ^ Passafiume, 2009. TCM: "Celebrated cinematographer James Wong Howe would be behind the camera, and Aaron Copland and Ira Gershwin would contribute the music and lyrics to several folk songs for the film...Lillian Hellman went to work on the screenplay." And: "...Goldwyn received a message from President Roosevelt through Lowell Mellett, the chief of the Bureau of Motion Pictures of the Office of War Information...It would be a portrayal designed to gather sympathy for the Russian people and strengthen American support for the U.S. government's alliance with the Soviet Union..."
    Hoberman, 2014: "....lavish Samuel Goldwyn production…"
    Cojoc, 2013 pp. 93-95: "the American's perceptions of the Soviet Union had to be shaped overnight so that FDR could receive popular support for entering the war on the Soviet Union's side. a responsibility for such a task was [placed on] The Office of War‚ Information."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 115: "...the production credits of The North Star are impressive…" And p. 124: Millichap list James Wong Howe, William Cameron Menzies, and Aaron Copland. And: "...the cast does well enough with what it has [in terms of script]." And "Goldwyn bankrolled a lavish production…"
  142. ^ Murphy, 1999. p. 16: The North Star was made "at the request of President Roosevelt with the conscious aim winning the support of the American public for its wartime ally, the Soviet Union."
  143. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 118-119: "...lovable old coot [Brennan's Karp]" And: "Here the operetta analogy takes hold...singing and dancing...reduces the major characters to fugitives from a musical comedy [and] makes no sense in terms of plot...does much to create the inanity that finally destroys the film."
  144. ^ Hoberman, 2014: "The peasants were played, without [adopting Russian] accents, by…all-American types: Dana Andrews, Anne Baxter, Dean Jagger ...Walter Brennan...appeared as semi-comic stock characters with Walter Huston, as the village doctor, supplying the sort of moral authority...The chief villains were Erich von Stroheim (once billed as The Man You Love to Hate) and Martin Kosleck..."
  145. ^ Hoberman, 2014: "its idealization of Soviet life, notably the lengthy village celebration choreographed by the Russian ballet master David Lichine, that suggests [the Hollywood musical] Oklahoma."
  146. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 119-120: Milestone exhibits ``admirable technical mastery" in the first bombing sequence...momentarily recalls the power of All Quiet…" And: p. 120: "the power of documentary [as in] Joris Ivens's The Spanish Earth..."
    Canham, 1974 p. 93: "Milestone's professionalism transcends his material…"
  147. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 116: "...the world's most devastating conflict, the world's most important event in history, was perceived within the limitations imposed by commercial filmmaking." And pp. 120-122: After the initial German aerial attack on the road and village "the genre changes….to Gothic as the plot moves to Russian defenders to Nazi attackers [who] are the same monsters who appear in dozens of war films..." And p. 117: In The North Star "Milestone...forgot the lessons of All Quiet on the Western Front: he forgot the reality of war." And p. 124: "...the film finally sinks under the weight of wartime hysteria and patriotic assertion…"
    Hoberman, 2014: "Looking to replenish their supply of plasma, the Nazi vampires drain blood from the village children…"
  148. ^ Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 106: "Milestone's craftsmanship in North Star...gave the film its characteristic rhythm and momentum, which partly counterbalances its tediousness. Erich von Stroheim and Martin Koslek contributed the villainy…"
  149. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 122: "...Hellman's script [calls for] one multi-dimensionsl character...Dr. Kurin…"
  150. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 123-124: "Dr. Kurin's action [shooting Harden] symbolizes the ideological climate that spawned The North Star…"
  151. ^ Cojoc, 2013. pp. 93-95: Milestone "transformed it into a pure-blood Hollywood piece...the peasants organize themselves into guerillas and without a trace of military or governmental help to protect their homeland (resembling the ad-hoc assemblies that governed themselves in American westerns)..."
  152. ^ Hoberman, 2014: The North Star "received near universal acclaim when it opened in New York at two Broadway theaters, less than a month after the Red Army liberated Kiev...[numerous dailies including] Life magazine named The North Star the movie of the year...only the two Hearst papers were critical, denouncing the movie as pro-Soviet propaganda."
  153. ^ Cojoc, 2013 pp. 93-95: "...Life magazine (1943) called it 'an eloquent tone poem (...) a document showing how the people €fight and die" [while] the Hearst Press condemned it as communist propaganda..."
    Passafiume, 2009. TCM: Hearst papers "made the outrageous suggestion that the film was not only Red propaganda but Nazi propaganda…" And: "...positive reviews did little to help The North Star, which ultimately fizzled at the box office..."
  154. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 116–117: Films produced after the Hitler–Stalin pact and Russia joined the Allied Powers, "were to haunt their creators in the McCarthy era, when various witch hunters would try to sniff out any sympathy with Communism. In most cases, this romanticizing of the Eastern Front seems more commercially than politically motivated. The mass media, somewhat in response to government pressure, portrayed all our allies as good guys, the Soviets included."
  155. ^ Barson, 2020: "...Lillian Hellman's script gave the picture a political tone that would land the filmmakers in trouble with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) just a few years later."
  156. ^ Passafiume, 2009. TCM: "Later in 1957 with the burgeoning of the cold war and McCarthyism, The North Star was completely re-cut to air on television after being singled out by the House Un-American Activities Committee as being pro-Communist. All sympathetic Soviet references were completely removed, a narrator was added warning against the 'menace of Communism,' the location was changed from Russia to Hungary, and a new title was given to the film: Armored Attack..."
  157. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 93: "another studio property...marred by jingoistic propaganda inserts..." And: "The film demonstrates "Milestone's attitude toward war as it indicates a change in heart from his pacifist position of All Quiet on the Western Front."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 124
  158. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 93: "...another studio property...marred by jingoistic propaganda inserts..." And: "the ever prowling camera increases the tension while the men wait and discuss their situation, and personal reaction to torture."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 128: "...the simplistic identification of all good with America, all evil with Japan, ultimate rendered the film both false and dangerous..."
  159. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 125: "The emotional overkill proves to be the film's major fault." And p. 128: "The Purple Heart remains the most successful of Milestone's World War II in a purely technical sense; it is both effective entertainment and propaganda, but it is finally bad art." And: "...we didn't hesitate...."
    Canham, 1974 p. 94: See here for cameraman Arthur Miller's "crisp, clearly defined, high-key images for court scenes [and] low-key imagery for flashbacks..."
  160. ^ Canham, 1974 pp. 97, 113: "Milestone shared credit for some work on Guest in the House (1944), credited to director John Brahm which dealt with the evil influence of an apparently innocent but sick young lady (Anne Baxter in a dress rehearsal for her outstanding performance in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's All About Eve (year)."
  161. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 128-129: "...his appendix ruptured…" during filming and had it removed.
  162. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 130: "the film was another labor of love…" And: "...the book was my script…" And pp. 130-131: "...Rossen and Milestone relied heavily on [Brown's] novel..." And: "...Milestone realized the work in strong visual terms..."
  163. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 96: "...a sense of purposelessness pervades the film, blind serving of a plan whose shape and outcome mean nothing to the men...it looks forward to Pork Chop Hill…"
  164. ^ Barson, 2020: "A Walk in the Sun (1945) was a stylistically adventurous war drama, adapted by Robert Rossen from the novel by Harry Brown. The film focuses almost entirely on the states of mind of several soldiers (Andrews, Conte, and John Ireland) as they try to take a Nazi-held farmhouse in Italy."
  165. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 96: The moral outlook of the soldiers "imply a structural and moral change by [the characters] tacit acceptance of the conditions of war."
  166. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 131
  167. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 130: "...realistically portrays the effects of war" on combat soldiers. And p. 132: Milestone "...avoids melodramatic and cliches…" And: All Quiet "his earlier masterpiece..."
    Canham, 1974 pp. 95-96: The film "synthesized his reappraisal of men in war. The plot was sparse, but tightly constructed in a series of episodes (all containing underlying melancholia). The dialogue was deliberately stylized: repetition, catch phrases and obsessional figures produced as effect of blank verse, the rhythm of which heightened the sense of fear and isolation..."
    Barson, 2020: "The effect is closer to the antiwar message of All Quiet on the Western Front than to the gung-ho heroics of most World War II pictures."
    Steffen, 2007 TCM: "...the cinematographer Russell Harlan handles A Walk in the Sun with great skill...Also striking is Milestone's frequent use of lateral tracking shots during the combat scenes, directly recalling All Quiet on the Western Front.
  168. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 116-117: Films produced after the Hitler–Stalin pact was broken and Russia joined the Allied Powers, were to haunt their creators in the McCarthy era, when various witch hunters would try to sniff out any sympathy with Communism. In most cases, this romanticizing of the Eastern Front seems more commercially than politically motivated.``
  169. ^ Cojoc, 2013 pp. 93-95: "in the wake of the Cold War the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee), the Catholic League of Decency, the Motion Picture Alliance and the Alliance for Preservation American Values put up together the infamous blacklists of people presumed to be members of the Communist Party, or have communist beliefs. Hearings regarding Communist infiltration of the Motion Pictures were held by HUAC in 1947, and the main targets were the contributors to wartime [Hollywood] pro-Soviet pictures..."
  170. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 142: Quoted from a 1979 interview with Milestone conducted by Millichap. See footnote in Millichap.
  171. ^ Cojoc, 2013 pp. 93-95: "Director Lewis Milestone was part of the group of the Hollywood directors (who invoked the €first [fifth] amendment) to be summoned by the [Committee] for their [suspected] involvement with the Communist Party. He together with another seven directors and screenwriters finally managed to avoid testifying. As for the rest of the Hollywood Ten, they remained the main victims of the Hollywood Purges, each of them being tried and sentenced for contempt of the Court..."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 142: "Unlike The Hollywood Ten, he was able to keep working through these tense times."
  172. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 142
    Barson, 2020: "Although suspected of having communist leanings, Milestone was never called to testify before the HUAC, and he was never officially blacklisted. However, for much of the 1950s, he struggled to find film assignments. ...Milestone worked in television for a few years...Toward the end of the 1950s, Milestone's "greylisting" was lifted.
    Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 17: "...a period of fear, betrayal and witch-hunting hysteria...the ranks of key contributors to the movie-making process were appreciably thinned."
  173. ^ Walsh, 2001: "According to some, Milestone was a victim of the blacklist..."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 142: "...did guilt by association block the financial backing necessary for truly creative projects, or did pressure make him opt for 'safe' subjects in Arch of Triumph, The Red Pony and Halls of Montezuma?. Milestone refused to comment of this side of his life: evidently his always found it very painful." (Millichap footnote indicates his 1979 interview with the director as source.)
  174. ^ Whiteley, 2020: "...In the postwar period his career was undoubtedly affected by the McCarthy Communist witch-hunts. In 1949, he was blacklisted for his left wing associations of the 1930's and for the apparent pro-Communist leanings shown in his movie 'The North Star' of 1943."
  175. ^ Arnold, 2003 TCM
    Millichap, 1981 pp. 142-143: "Between them the writer and director created a taut, harsh tale of American moral corruption which became a classic example of the post-war Hollywood style known as film noir"
  176. ^ Higham and Greenberg, 1968 pp. 20-21: See here for definitions of film noir, re: "Romanticism" and German/Austrian directors, "reaching its fullest realization in the Forties…" And p. 27: "Lewis Milestone, in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), also created a striking addition to film noir...Replete with impressive images of cruelty and destructiveness, this chef d'oeuvre could not have been more persuasively directed..."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 154: "Milestone's The Strange Love of Martha Ivers proves a perfect example of film noir, a dark revelation of a corrupt and corrupting urban America…not only one of the best of its type [it] remains one Milestone's best films, a dramatic confirmation of the director's diverse and generous gifts." And p. 154: "...Robert Rossen's literate and intelligent screenplay, a work which recalls literary sources a diverse as Eugene O'Neill and John O'Hara... And p. 144: "...Milestone assisted...by an excellent cast…"
    Arnold, 2003 TCM: "...a classic film noir which introduced Kirk Douglas to the movie-going world...Dark, twisted and gripping, the picture was an all-around triumph."
  177. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 142-143: "Between them the writer and director created a taut, harsh tale of American moral corruption which became a classic example of film noir."
    Barson, 2020: "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) was a departure for Milestone, an effective film noir starring Barbara Stanwyck, Lizabeth Scott, and (in his film debut) Kirk Douglas."
    Canham, 1974 p. 97: "... the viciousness of dialogue and character reflected a cynical approach to modern society…" And pp. 97-98: "...a powerful demonstration of the destructive distortion of identify...which stemmed from an obsessive devotion to money and power."
    Millichap, 1981 p. "...Kirk Douglas, in his screen debut…"
  178. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 144: "Victor Milner's cinematography renders the requisite stylistic effects of film noir…" And: "...the sound track is enhanced by Miklos Rozsa's brilliant original score [which] presents themes for each of the characters and then skillfully intertwines and contrasts them in an almost perfect counterpoint to the visual images."
  179. ^ Higham and Greenberg, 1968 pp. 20-21: "...the minatory score of ...Miklos Rozsa..." The final cut was marred by Wallis's post-production insertion of close-ups to promote his rising Paramount property Lizabeth Scott.
    Millichap, 1981 p. 144: "Only one member of the production staff really hindered Milestone: producer Hal B. Wallis [who insisted] on inserting a number of pointless close-ups of his latest starlet, Lizabeth Scott, in Milestone's finished director's print. The inserts [of Scott] stand out like sore thumbs...the rest of the film is as faultless in its visual rhythms as everything Milestone ever did."
  180. ^ Erickson, 2014 TCM: "One of several independent film companies attempting to establish a foothold in Hollywood was Enterprise Productions, which generated a string of quality pictures in the late 1940s...Enterprise's biggest production is director Lewis Milestone's Arch of Triumph, from a novel by the noted Erich Maria Remarque, who had earlier written the source novel for Milestone"
  181. ^ Erickson, 2014 TCM: "Enterprise Productions put everything it had into Arch of Triumph, with production values the equal of any big studio film... he highly anticipated movie seemed a guaranteed hit."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 155: "Producers [at Enterprise Studios] saw the adaption of the best-selling novel as a blockbuster on the scale of Gone with the Wind (1939)."
  182. ^ Hoberman, 2014: "Adapted from a novel by Erich Remarque, Arch of Triumph is set on the eve of World War II in the Paris of desperate anti-Nazi refugees. Charles Boyer is one, an idealistic doctor, who falls in love with a professional courtesan and chanteuse of mystery (Ingrid Bergman)..."
    Millichap, 1981 pp. 154-155: See here for story sketch
  183. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 156: The first problem was that Enterprise "pushed [the production] toward glamorous romance…" And: "...bars, brothels…[and the film's] conclusion is changed" to conform to Code.
  184. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 155–156: Boyer and Bergman were badly miscast. Boyer, a matinee idol [is unconvincing as] a refugee doctor, while Bergman...portrayed as international tart about as convincingly as Boyer would have played an All-American fullback."
  185. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 155-156: "Arch of Triumph fails almost completely. A great part of the failure was beyond Milestone's control."
  186. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 99: "...certain studio executives did not like the long version that Milestone turned in, so it was drastically pruned and re-edited, and today Milestone practically disowns Arch of Triumph."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 156: A "major difficulty was that [producers cut Milestone's long version] from about four hours to a more conventional two...such drastic cutting destroyed the continuity of the work. Major characters were completely eliminated, loose ends of plot abound and the movie romance of Boyer and Bergman becomes even more central."
    Hoberman, 2014: "The script, which Milestone helped write, is hopeless — disjointed and rich with pointless enigmas, although not enough to be truly surreal."
  187. ^ Erickson, 2014 TCM: "The movie benefits from director Milestone's formalism and attention to character detail. The lighting, sets and costumes are more realistic than we expect,,,The movie offers noir atmosphere, incipient doom and the haunted face of Ingrid Bergman...." And: "A flashback to a torture chamber (cue silhouette images) seems to come from a horror movie."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 156: The flashback torture scene "a clear throughback to German Expressionism [with] quick juxtaposition of extreme angles..."
    Hoberman, 2014: "The movie is ripely atmospheric, shot by Russell Metty in a manner that recalls the romantic fatalism of late-'30s French movies."
    Thomson, 2015: "I don't know why, but it's a neglected work."
  188. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 156
  189. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 156. And p. 154: "The Arch of Triumph should have been a much better film than it turned out to be...based [as it was] on a solid literary property..."
  190. ^ Erickson, 2014 TCM:"...audiences didn't [appreciate] the film and it earned back less than a third of its budget."
  191. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 156: "...both an artistic and financial disaster. It grossed $1,5 millon, while it cost almost $4 million to make."And p. 157: "in later years he has practically disowned the film…"
  192. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 99
  193. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 156-157: "After he completed Arch of Triumph, Milestone reverted to the weak, semi-sophisticated comedy of his Paramount and RKO pictures of the 1930s in No Minor Vices (1949)...the movie seems to reprise My Life with Caroline (year)...Milestone labored to make the film interesting with stream-of-consciousness soliloquies and deft pans...but most reviewers found it dull stuff...it seems the kind of programmer that the director might have better avoided."
  194. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 99: Milestone "continued to work prolifically, turning our a rarely seen comedy, No Minor Vices…"
  195. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 157
  196. ^ Barson, 2020: "The Red Pony (1949) was an adaptation by Steinbeck of his book of four related stories. The coming-of-age film centers on a boy who bonds with his pony."
    Arnold, 2008 TCM: "Formed as a union of half a dozen poverty-row film studios, Republic Pictures in its early years didn't carry much prestige itself. That changed in the late 1940s, when the studio made a concerted effort to propel itself to more respectable ranks by producing 'serious' dramas with renowned filmmakers…[their] most expensive picture to date…"
    Millichap, 1981 p. 157: Milestone and Steinbeck "became good friends" while working on Of Mice and Men (1939). And: "Republic, essentially a studio devoted to westerns…" And p. 158: The story set "about 1910."
    Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 155: "Shot mainly on location, the film was part of Republic Studio's bid for 'prestige' that had also resulted in Orson Welles' Macbeth (1948). Its score by Aaron Copland, its attractive restrained color...fully realized the studio's prestigious aspirations."
  197. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 157 : "Steinbeck served as screenwriter, his only adaption of one of his own works, while Milestone took credit as both producer and director..." And: p. 159 and p. 168: The quote on "distorts" is a composite quote used for clarity. And p. 158: "The four separate tales [of the story sequence] are connected by common characters, settings and themes."
    Arnold, 2008 TCM: "For The Red Pony, Steinbeck actually adapted his own work to the screen...the screenplay was based not on a single novel but on several of his short stories [and] blending them into one complete tale must have been an intriguing challenge and an appealing chance to create something wholly original.
  198. ^ Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 155: "A film of [high] caliber was Lewis Milestone's version of John Steinbeck's The Red Pony (1949), from a screenplay by Steinbeck himself. This entered with sensitivity and imagination into the world of childhood…"
    Millichap, 1981 p. 157: Republic "pigeonholed" the film as a "children's picture, a kind of kid's western…" And p. 162: Some of the scenes possess "a kid's picture undertone...right out of a Disney production..."
  199. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 157: "The film's conclusion, altered to a stock happy ending represents the transformation of the plot character and theme in the screen version" of "one of Steinbeck's finest works of [literary] fiction." And p. 159 and p. 164 re: focus on "The Gift" and "The Leader of the People" with "The Great Mountains" expunged and "The Promise" severely cut. And on "willingly" See p. 168: "...the author himself included [the happy ending] in the screenplay...[altering] the thematic thrust of the story sequence..."
  200. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 162: "...the film quickly loses much of the power promised by the literary source and anticipated in the strong opening sequence."
  201. ^ Arnold, 2008 TCM: "Myrna Loy plays against type here, and film historian Lawrence Quirk has wondered "why [she] took this role, merely a ranch housewife and mother who is very much on the periphery of this bucolic mood piece."
    Millichap, 1981 pp. 159-160: "Louis Calhern...seems a strange amalgamation of Will Geer's Grandpa Walton and Joel McCrea's Buffalo Bill."
    Barson, 2020: "Myrna Loy and Robert Mitchum gave fine performances..."
  202. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 160: "Miles sensitivity often seems rather sugary and his anger at the world is more or less a tantrum."
  203. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 161: "Like many Milestone films, it opens quite well [but] does not sustain the artistic intensity..." And p. 168: "Although Milestone's The Red Pony is not as artistically successful as Steinbeck's story sequence it remains a sincere film adaption..." And pp. 160-161: "Milestone opens the film with a pre-title sequence which clearly recalls Of Mice and Men in both visual and aural imagery...establishing a complex relationship between the human characters and the natural world…"
  204. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 99: "...his first technicolor film..."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 157: "...the film is notable as Milestone's first color effort." And p. 160: "Tony Gaudio's cinematography" in technicolor "suggests the best of American regional painting [in his use of] natural, muted tones."
  205. ^ Barson, 2020 TCM: "...Aaron Copland wrote the acclaimed film score."
    Arnold, 2008 TCM: "Aaron Copland's wistful and haunting score was one of just six the famed composer wrote for American feature films."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 160: "Perhaps the best single feature of the film is the powerful score by Aaron Copland, who had also scored [Milestone's] Of Mice and Men (1939); both scores became concert favorites, among the finest pieces of music created for Hollywood. As in his earlier work with Milestone, Copland's script perfectly matches the mood of the visuals, and this case often surpasses them in invoking the lyric naturalism of Steinbeck's original work."
  206. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 157: "...the movie proved a moderate success, both critically and financially."
    Arnold, 2008 TCM: In its effort to make "prestige" productions...the studio made a concerted effort to propel itself to more respectable ranks by producing 'serious' dramas with renowned filmmakers such as Orson Welles' Macbeth (1948), Frank Borzage's Moonrise (1948), and Lewis Milestone's The Red Pony (1949)."
  207. ^ Canham, 1974 pp. 99-100
  208. ^ Arnold, 2003 TCM: Milestone on taking screenwriting credits: "'I seldom did' he said."
  209. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 171: "Milestone...worked with [Blankfort on the screenplay], and it seems likely [Milestone's] own brand of liberal realism influenced the work...there are many interesting correspondences with [his 1930 film] All Quiet on the Western Front." And: " ...it concerns a Marine landing on a [Japanese held] Pacific island" that resembles the Okinawa attack in 1945 "but it was produced during the Korean War."
  210. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 170: "...the marines fight because they are on the side of right, 'On God's side' [reflecting] the Cold War vision of the American position...[the film's] ultimate thematic thrust...obviously resembles many of the mindlessly self-congratulatory war films of the 1950s." And: "...for all its disconcerting patriotic entertainment values, [the film] also has moments of real insight into the horrors of war." And p. 170: The letter of a dead Marine is discovered by his comrades: "...'war is too horrible for human beings'...the letter itself contains the film's thematic core..."
    Crowther, 1951 NYT: "A remarkably real and agonizing demonstration of the horribleness of war, with particular reference to its impact upon the men who have to fight it on the ground…" And: "...the passionate theme of the whole drama is cried out in a dead man's words toward the end: 'War is too horrible for human beings!'" And: "Psychoses of fear and hate are mingled dramatically among the men, and their distaste for taking prisoners becomes a motivating factor in the plot..."
    Canham, 1974 p. 99: "...the film is marred by concessions to sentimentality, such as the reading of the Lord's Prayer by Karl Malden before the final battle."
  211. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 169: "Milestone dismisses the film as a potboiler…" And: Milestone: "'It was really just a job, not a true opportunity to state my personal beliefs about war...I was collecting some money I needed very badly...'"
  212. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 99: "Flashbacks fill in the civilian lives and problems of the characters, and are quite well integrated..."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 170: "For the most part the characters are complex and believable, not the cardboard cutouts of similar films." And pp. 171–172: "...there are many interesting correspondences with All Quiet on the Western Front..." And: "...the ploy also resembles Milestone's [1930] classic..."
  213. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 173: "...the final half-hour, the film deteriorates into a rather standard adventure movie..."
  214. ^ Whitely, 2020: "After Halls of Montezuma (1950) Milestone's movie career began to trail off and he never again reached his earlier heights...After Halls of Montezuma he did no work for a year." And: "In the postwar period his career was undoubtedly affected by the McCarthy Communist witch-hunts. In 1949, he was blacklisted for his left wing associations of the 1930s.
    Millichap, 1981 pp. 168-169: "Halls of Montezuma is one of Milestone's most underrated efforts. The movie is rarely discussed, and when it is mentioned at all, it serves critics as an example of either the declining powers or the commercial co-option of the director during the 1950s."
  215. ^ Silver, 2010: "...many of his later films tend to be forgettable."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 175
    Whitely, 2020: Milestone's "career decline" in the 1950s.
  216. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 70: Excerpt quoted by Canham. And p. 104: Milestone once known for "his superlative craftsmanship [which had] earned his a place in film history..." And: ",,,established professionals who had become more or less house directors at various studios suddenly [found themselves displaced] by new directors from television,..."
    Higham and Greenberg, 1968 pp. 17-18: "...something vital seemed to be ebbing away ever more swiftly from the films of Hollywood, a process accelerating in the early Fifties and reaching a climax with CinemaScope. The Forties may now be seen as the apotheosis of the U.S. feature film, its last great show of confidence before it virtually succumbed artistically to the paralyzing effects of bigger and bigger screens, [and] the collapse of the star system."
  217. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 175
  218. ^ Canham, 1974 pp. 69–70: "The later half of the Fifties proved to be a key era in the history of Hollywood. It was a significant turning point in that it marked the end of the 'golden years of Hollywood; the gigantic star factory...had begun to crumble at the beginning of the decade under pressure from the spreading popularity of television,[as well as] the hysterical the publicity that arose from the investigation into Hollywood folk by the House Un-American Activities Committee [which] stopped many careers dead, and sent other into exile of "ghost" work. The studios began to tighten the purse strings...[and the industry resorted to] gimmicks and technical modification such as 3-D, CinemaScope and Cinerama..."
    Gow, 1971 p. 10: "...the McCarthy method were so bull-dozing...the many were unfairly victimized...And: Hollywood ""long accustomed to...accumulating wealth with practiced ease, was suddenly battered in the Fifties by challenges to its security. Among these challenges, the greatest by far was television...to compete with television, the obvious move was to offer in cinema an experience unavailable in the rival medium...Color [and] CinemaScope..."
  219. ^ Whitely, 2020: In the early 1950s he made "several low budget failures, such as 'They Who Dare' in 1954..."
  220. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 175: "the director's development paralleled Hollywood history as he tried his hand at television, foreign productions and earlier [film] classics. None of these films really require close analysis..."
  221. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 99: "...the ploy resembled a routine Western format..."
    Crowther, 1952 NYT: "antipodal", quoted in Millichap, 1981 p. 176
  222. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 100: "Milestone's handling of the material was interesting to the extent of carrying sound and lack of dialogue to extremes, but the standard of playing was below par."
  223. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 176: See here for camerawork, comparisons to John Ford and Howard Hawks depictions of the American West. And: Burdened with a "hapless plot" Kangaroo "proves to be only another [of Milestone's] interesting failures."
    Higham, 1974 pp. 130-131: "first rate action scenes [including] a cattle stampede [that emulates] Harry Watt's The Overlanders [and] "once again demonstrated that, as a master of natural environments, Milestone was second to none..."
  224. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 100: "...Fox loaded his next film [Les Miserables] with contract players, but Milestone was dealing with an indifferent script...lavish sets and model work helped capture the feeling of the piece..."
  225. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 176-177: "Casting does not aid Milestone's effort..." And: See p. 176 for "cliche-ridden" comment.
  226. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 176-177: See p. 177 for quote And p. 176: "The final print bears every evidence of this attitude..."
  227. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 177: See Canham's film summaries in Filmography section.
  228. ^ Canham, 1974 pp. 101-102: "Melba was an ill-fated attempt to cash in on the success of the recently filmed biography of Gilbert and Sullivan. Sam Spiegel produced the film for Milestone, but in spite of the presence of Patrice Munsel as Dame Nellie Melba, it turned out to be a disastrous flop."
  229. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 177: "...the [Munsel] vehicle turned out to be another Hollywood travesty…[Milestone's] ersatz biography."
  230. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 177
  231. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 101: "...Milestone had little success with the two films he had made in England." And: "...failure at the box office [with Melba and They Who Dare] was not a good omen for an established director, especially in the Fifties…"
  232. ^ Whitely, 2020: Milestone make "several low budget failures, such as They Who Dare in 1954..."
    Whitely, 2020: "After several low budget failures, such as 'They Who Dare' in 1954, Milestone directed major Hollywood names in his last three movies..."
  233. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 103: "...an Italian/American co-production starring Patricia Roc..." And p. 117: "A high-powered romantic melodrama, filmed in Italy with an international cast."
  234. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 178: "...a joint British-Italian venture…" And: "...soap opera-ish…" And: "The triangle and its consequences are predictable, and Milestone's part in the proceedings seems simply to record the inevitable tragedy on film."
  235. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 178: "...might well rank with A Walk in the Sun…" And p. 179: "...perhaps recalls the antiwar attitudes in All Quiet on the Western Front..."
  236. ^ McGee, 2003 TCM: "He would later turn his attention to the spectacle of war and the cohesiveness of men in battle in both A Walk in the Sun (1945) and Pork Chop Hill, which form an informal war trilogy with All Quiet on the Western Front."
  237. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 179
  238. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 179: "The general staff feels they must respond to this challenge or lose ground at the truce table."
  239. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 117
    McGee, 2003: "It takes place during the final hours of peace negotiations between Korea and the U.S. and recounts the capture of Pork Chop Hill by American troops, an action ordered only to demonstrate to Communist negotiators that the U.S. would continue to fight if an agreement was not reached."
    Millichap, 1981 p. 179: "Pork Chop Hill perhaps recalls the antiwar attitudes of [Milestone's] All Quiet on the Western Front more fully than any of his World War II movies."
  240. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 180: "Peck's voice-over at the film's conclusion the iconic battles, whereas Milestone had lacked this dimension, referring only to the troops: "...the men who fought here know what they did and the meaning of it."
  241. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 103: "Gregory Peck...played a major role in the production of the film..."
  242. ^ McGee, 2003 TCM: "The release version of Pork Chop Hill differed from Milestone's original conception. The film originally was to cut between the peace talks and the action of holding the hill but that idea was scrapped."
  243. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 179: "Milestone seems to say that the lesson of Pork Chop Hill was the futility of war...However, the changes made to the director's version [by the studio] weaken the harsh irony of this message."
  244. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 178: "...Peck was one of the movie's [financial] backers and thus exercised a great deal of control over the production...it seems that Peck, more than anyone else interfered with Milestone's artistic vision in Pork Chop Hill."
  245. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 178: "...the strongest of Milestone's late films [and] without the studio interference...make rank well with A Walk in the Sun (1945)."
  246. ^ Canham, 1974 pp. 103-104: "...the released version differed from Milestone's original conception...he had intended to include much more cross-cutting between the [battlefield] action of holding the hill and peace talks that were going on as the action played out…[and] about men fighting blindly for objectives without being aware of the point of their actions or the strategy that lay behind it, but he was not able to have his own way."
  247. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 180: Millichap's footnote for this remark cites a 1959 interview with "Dale Mackey", publication undisclosed.
  248. ^ McGee, 2003 TCM: "Told with a hard-nosed style of harsh realism and fluid action, the film stars Gregory Peck and a bevy of up-and-coming actors, such as George Peppard, Martin Landau, Rip Torn, Harry Guardino, Harry Dean Stanton, Robert Blake, and Woody Strode…"
  249. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 179: The company of men "represent the various types found in American war films…Harry Guardino, George Shibata, James Edwards, Woody Strode, Rip Torn, George Peppard, and Robert Blake in his first adult role."
  250. ^ a b Walsh, 2001
  251. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 180: "The plot involves a gang of old army buddies out to heist the biggest casinos in Las Vegas...perhaps Warner Brothers felt that Milestone could orchestrate both the military[-like] operation of the plot and the comic turns of the cast."
    Safford, 2008 TCM: "One of the first in a series of heist movies in the sixties, Ocean's Eleven (1960)...audiences are treated to a glimpse of Sinatra and his favored cronies [The Rat Pack]."
    Walsh, 2001: "Sinatra had been a member of the Committee for the First Amendment, founded to oppose the HUAC attacks on Communists in Hollywood.
    Safford, 2008 TCM: "Lewis Milestone, the veteran director whose most famous film remains the anti-war saga, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), seemed an unlikely choice to direct Ocean's 11. But his career had suffered during the communist purge of Hollywood due to Senator Joe McCarthy's influence in the fifties and Milestone needed the work."
    Millichap, 1981 pp. 180-181: "Given what he had to work with- a preposterous screenplay by Harry Brown and Charles Lederer-and a cast including Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and Buddy Lester- he did a fair job."
  252. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. "...the movie never quite decides if it is being played straight or as a spoof,; if it is an amoral satire of American values or a silly television variety show." And: "...preposterous…" also here.
    Silver, 2010: "A career 'climaxing' with the Rat Pack's version of Ocean's 11...doesn't lend much to the argument that Milestone had a coherent worldview."
    Canham, 1974 p. 103: "...a pedestrian comedy-thriller [and not as impressive] as Henry Hathaway's Seven Thieves (1960) which was released at the beginning of the year."
  253. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 181: "As entertainment the movie made money, but it proves completely forgettable as a film."
    Walsh, 2001: "How much director Lewis Milestone had his heart in it is questionable."
    Silver, 2010: "A career 'climaxing' with the Rat Pack's version of Ocean's 11...doesn't lend much to the argument that Milestone had a coherent worldview."
    Canham, 1974 p. 105: "...Milestone's experience with Ocean's Eleven was not the first time his career was affected by a poor decision on timing and distribution."
  254. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 181: By the end of the Fifties Hollywood had decided it could only lure audiences away from television set with 'Big Name Stars' and 'Spectacular Productions.'" And: "...ill-starred..." And p. 182; The film "proved a financial disaster, recouping less than half of its costs of $20 million plus..."
    Miller, 2010 TCM: "...unable to film due to weather...,as much as 17 inches [of rain] in one day...Carol Reed began to clash with Brando and MGM studio management early in the production [over] interpretation [of characters]."
    Canham, 1974 p. 103: Canham calls the Milestone's Mutiny on the Bounty "this fiasco..."
  255. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 182: "Reed quickly and sensibly abandoned ship." And: Milestone's reputation as a "film doctor", skilled at salvaging troublesome movies, may have earned him the job offer. And: Milestone "careful craftsman and hard taskmaster to [control] the mercurial Brando." And: Brando "chafed" under the direction of Reed. And pp. 181-182: "Milestone expected to find the film near completion but instead discovered only a few usable scenes."
  256. ^ Miller, 2010 TCM: See article for Milestone's disengagement from his directing duties.
  257. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 183: ""Milestone deserves his share of the blame for [the film's] ultimate failure. However, Brando is more culpable than the ageing director, as he became the actual auteur." And: "...the project never coheres into a film..."
    Canham, 1974 p. 103: "The last film which bears Milestone's name as the director is the re-make of Mutiny on the Bounty is hardly representative of his work since the final film is reputed to contain scenes shot by George Seaton, Richard Thorpe, Andrew Marton, Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann and Marlon Brando among others." And: a "fiasco"
    Whitely, 2020: The shoot was " not a happy experience as Milestone found himself more and more out of touch with the big egos he was directing. In 1962 Brando practically took over the directing duties from him."
    Barson, 2020: "Milestone's last film was the epic Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), which he took over from Carol Reed. A lavish remake of the 1935 film version...Milestone's movie featured a polarizing performance by Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian..."
  258. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 103
  259. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 191: During the late Fifties "Hollywood was reeling from the collapse of the studio system…" And: "...it would be five years before Milestone made another feature film, Pork Chop Hill (1959)."
  260. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 103: After making The Widow "Milestone turned to television for several years, working on a number of series including Have Gun Will Travel...but he was tempted back [to Hollywood] at the end of the decade to direct Pork Chop Hill..."
  261. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 178
  262. ^ Whitely, 2020: "As movie work dried up, Milestone reluctantly took on some television direction, which he did not enjoy, starting in 1958 with 'Schlitz Playhouse' and continuing with 'Have Gun-Will Travel' in the same year and ending with 'Arrest and Trial' in 1963."
    Canham, 1974 pp. 118-119: See here for short list on "unrealized projects" And "Kane-like" project
    Millichap, 1981 p. 178: See here for episodes directed by Milestone. And: "Milestone...characterized television direction...as a form of wage slavery" in an interview with Higham and Greenberg (1969), see footnote.
  263. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 186: "...controversial nature of the [film] project…[President] Kennedy would have run for reelection in 1964…." and Jack Warner complained that "satisfactory progress was not being made" under Milestone's direction.
    Barson, 2020: "...Milestone began work on two more films, he was replaced on both productions: PT 109 (1963), a film about John F. Kennedy's wartime heroism in the Pacific..."
  264. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 186
  265. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 119
    Millichap, 1981 p. 186
  266. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.
  267. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 82: "...in 1935 [Milestone] married Kendall Lee Glaezner…" And p. 186: "In 1978, [Milestone] was shocked by the death of his wife…"
  268. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 186: "Health problems plagued Milestone in later years...one personal project was an uncompleted autobiography, tentatively entitled Milestones." And p. 186: "After a succession of illnesses Lewis Milestone died on September 25, 1980, at the UCLA Medical Center, five days before his eighty-fifth birthday."
    Whitely, 2020: "In 1963 he was scheduled to direct 'PT 109'...he was replaced after suffering a stroke. He was forced into retirement by his ill health and spent the last decade of his life confined to a wheelchair."
  269. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 189
  270. ^ Millichap 1981 pp. 189-190
    Baxter, 1970 pp. 132-133: "All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) [noted for] the battle scenes, with their endless tracking shots and artfully designed soundtracks..."
  271. ^ Baxter, 1970 p. 132 "Neither a consistent,nor a commercial director, he nevertheless began his Thirties career on a high point, with one of the acknowledged classics of the American cinema [All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)]" And p. 133: "Unfortunately, Milestone did not live up to the promise of his first major films..."
    Silver, 2010: "Like his fellow Russian émigré Rouben Mamoulian, however, Milestone's early promise was never truly fulfilled."
    Koszarski, 1976 p. 317: "...by the late 30s the innovative flair that had marked his earlier work had dampened…"
  272. ^ Canham, 1974 pp. 104-105
  273. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 144: "...Milestone always needed a strong literary vehicle to create a successful film…"
    Barson, 2020: "An avid reader of literature, [Milestone] was especially known for his realistic dramas, many of which were literary adaptations."
    Canham, 1974 p. 81: "...above all it was the technique of Milestone's film that rightly led to his fame. The [camera] movement became the message…"
  274. ^ Millichap, 1981 p. 189: "...the technical expertise he acquired from years of editing evolved into an eclectic cinema style which enlivened even his dullest efforts and made possible the artistry of his classic works."
    Canham, 1974 p. 71: "[Milestone] has perhaps over-used the lateral tracking shot…"
  275. ^ Walsh, 2001
    Hoberman, 2014: Walsh and Hoberman forms a composite quote from Sarris in his American Cinema (1968).
    Silver, 2010: "Andrew Sarris had it right when he said that Milestone 'is almost the classic example of the uncommitted director.'"
    Millichap, 1981 Preface: "Milestone was somewhat overpraised in the early stages of his career, and a corresponding critical reaction set in during his later years...the negative judgements of Andrew Sarris set the tone."
  276. ^ Canham, 1974 p. 71
  277. ^ Millichap, 1981 pp. 189-190 And:from author's Preface: "Milestone's...uneven body of work that defies easy categorization, analysis or evaluation." And: Millichap, 1981 Editor's Forward (Warren French), re: "...was notably uneven…" passage.
  278. ^ Koszarski, 1976 p. 317
  279. ^ Koszarski, 1976 p. 317: Note that Koszarsk's analogy is based on an essay "The Reign of the Director" carried in New Theatre and Film, March 1937 by Lewis Milestone, reprinted in the 1976 book. Milestone's theme concerns the decline of the artistic, independent and autonomous director (e.g. D. W. Griffith, James Cruze and Erich von Stroheim) and the rise of the Hollywood studio system. The saplings bend to the studio "storm", the oaks resist, and are uprooted.

References

Bibliography

External links

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