2014: 72. Five Came Back


"John Ford was the first to go.  By the time the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor, he was already three thousand miles from Hollywood and had been in uniform for three months."

Five Came Back, Mark Harris

This is the other book I brought to California - it's the story of five Hollywood directors (John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, William Wyler and Frank Capra) who chose to leave their cushy Hollywood careers, answer their country's call, and get involved in World War II.  They made propaganda films, they filmed battles, one even filmed the liberation of concentration camps.  The book is about how they changed, how they grew as directors, and all that happened to them as a result of their war experiences.  And it's written by Mark Harris, whose Pictures at a Revolution was one of my favorite reads of 2009.   So, I was psyched to read it.

And, I don't know - for some reason it didn't quite grab me the way I wanted it too.  I don't know if it was the bouncing between the five directors, or what, but it felt glancing somehow.  His previous book took on five movies released in the same year and was great - maybe five men's lives is too much to cover in the same number of pages. Or maybe it was just me - I read this book in bits and pieces over my vacation and maybe it would have flowed better if I hadn't kept picking it up and putting it down.  But I will say, it made me want to go and watch a whole bunch of old movies - particularly those directed by George Stevens, who was my favorite of the five. 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017