Five Came Back

Five Came Back

A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War

eBook - 2014
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Penguin Putnam
Now a Netflix original documentary series, also written by Mark Harris, premiering on March 31,2017: the extraordinary wartime experience of five of Hollywood's most important directors, all of whom put their stamp on World War II and were changed by it forever 

Here is the remarkable, untold story of how five major Hollywood directors—John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, William Wyler, and Frank Capra—changed World War II, and how, in turn, the war changed them. In a move unheard of at the time, the U.S. government farmed out its war propaganda effort to Hollywood, allowing these directors the freedom to film in combat zones as never before. They were on the scene at almost every major moment of America’s war, shaping the public’s collective consciousness of what we’ve now come to call the good fight. The product of five years of scrupulous archival research, Five Came Back provides a revelatory new understanding of Hollywood’s role in the war through the life and work of these five men who chose to go, and who came back.

“Five Came Back 
. . . is one of the great works of film history of the decade.” --Slate

“A tough-minded, information-packed and irresistibly readable work of movie-minded cultural criticism. Like the best World War II films, it highlights marquee names in a familiar plot to explore some serious issues: the human cost of military service, the hypnotic power of cinema and the tension between artistic integrity and the exigencies of war.” --The New York Times

Baker & Taylor
Traces the World War II experiences of five legendary directors including John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra and George Stevens to assess the transformative impact of the war and period beliefs on Hollywood. By the author of Pictures at a Revolution.

& Taylor

Looks at the World War II experiences of five legendary directors--John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens--to assess the transformative impact of the war and period beliefs on Hollywood.

Publisher: New York : The Penguin Press, 2014
ISBN: 9780698151574
Branch Call Number: eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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Feb 25, 2019

Frank Capra, John Ford, John Huston, George Stevens, and William Wyler made films for the United States Government from 1940 to 1945. Were they propaganda efforts or documentaries? Live action or re-enactments? If propaganda, were they any more moral and truthful than Nazi propaganda? When does documentary become propaganda? What audiences were approved for viewing the results? How did this work affect the careers, personal relationships, and psyches of these celebrated men? This book follows the progress of their work in chapters covering approximately 6 months. Author Harris's extensive research includes excerpts from personal diaries and letters to wives and children. In doing so, he reveals the character of each man. Reading the book will make these Hollywood legends into the real human beings that they were, and it will reveal the impact of the war on their post-war pictures and their resistance to the witch hunts of the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1940s and 1950s. Highly recommended inside look at a facet of American culture.

JoePilla Jan 13, 2015

This is an admirable chronicle of the WW2 activities of five of the most famed Hollywood directors.
The issues of the value (and perils) of propaganda and the use of reenactment in documentary films are as timely today as during WW2. Harris expertly puts these five men's military experiences in context of the wider war, Hollywood history, and their careers and films. I learned quite a lot about men whose biographies and movies I thought I knew well.

ChristchurchLib May 12, 2014

"In his previous book, Pictures at a Revolution, author Mark Harris wrote about the 1967 nominees for Best Picture and how they reflected a changing culture. Here, he explores the stories of five big-name directors who joined the war effort in the 1940s; one documented the flights of the Memphis Belle, while another captured the liberations of Paris and Dachau. In discussing how their work in the armed services affected them personally and professionally, Harris also addresses the division in Hollywood between those who supported the U.S. joining the war and those who didn't." Popular Culture May 2014 newsletter


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