His name was Лейб Мильштейн (Leib Milstein), and he was born in Chisnau (Kishinev) the capital city of Bessarbia, Governate, the Russian Empire, now Moldova, on September 30, 1895. We know him as director LEWIS MILESTONE. Over his career, 1918-1964, Lewis Milestone directed 48-motion pictures, and seven-television programs. This article is about three of Lewis Milestone's feature films.
Above, Lewis Milestone reading the German language novel he turned into the first of the three movies this article is about.
His name was William Tecumseh Sherman, and he was the Northern Civil War General known for the quote:
War is Hell!
A lesser-known quote from General Sherman is
It is only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated … that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation.
Lewis Milestone did not direct a motion picture, or television show about the "American Civil War", but he brought both quotes by General William Tecumseh Sherman's to life in three motion pictures in front of Milestone's audiences.
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT premiered in Los Angeles, California, on April 21, 1930
As the tag line states:
At last - the motion picture!In November and December of 1928, in the liberal German newspaper "Vossische Zeitung (Voss's Newspaper)", a novel by ex-First World War German soldier Erich Maria Remarque, "Im Westen nichts Neues (Nothing New in the West)", was first being read. On January 29, 1929, the novel appeared in Germany in book form. Adolph Hitler would ban the book after becoming the German Chancellor, even though the book had been in circulation for the previous three-years as a worldwide best-seller.
Returning to the above motion picture poster, as with all of the "Universal Pictures" films at the time. They were "Presented" by the co-founder, back in 1915 of the studio, Carl Laemmle, Sr. Laemmle was also the illustrator of the 1929 English translation, and of course, had a special interest in obtaining the novel's rights for his studio.
According to "Publishers Weekly", the novel became the bestselling work of fiction in the United States under the title, "All Quiet on the Western Front". Below, the cover of the first English language edition.
Carl Laemmle, Jr. was the producer of the motion picture. "Junior" as he was known around the studio, was the writer of 31 short-subjects between 1926 and 1929. He had produced his first three movies in 1923, took a break until 1926, and became a serious producer from that year forward. From 1928 until the collapse of the Laemmle family's control of "Universal Studios" in 1936, "Junior" was the head of production for the studio. He talked his father into letting him make two movies in 1931, that "Senior" considered a waste of money. The two motion pictures were "Dracula", starring the unknown Bela Lugosi, and "Frankenstein", with the unknown Boris Karloff, and the rest is history.
Carl Laemmle, Jr. would win the 1930, "Academy Award for Outstanding Production", later called, "Best Picture", for "All Quiet in the Western Front".
The Director:Leib Milstein's primary education was at Jewish schools and included learning several languages fluently. His liberal leaning parents, sent their son to Mittweida, in the German State of Saxony, to study engineering in one of the finest schools in Germany. However, his desire was toward the theater and he would skip his classes to see stage productions and finally failed them. Against his parent's wishes, 18-years-old Leib purchased a one-way transatlantic ticket to the United States and arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey, on November 14, 1913. The young Milstein struggled to find work, but in 1917, just after the United States entered the First World War, he enlisted in the Army Signal Corps. Two of his fellow Signal Corps members were future motion picture directors, Joseph von Sternberg, the original German 1930, "Blue Angel", starring the unknown Marlene Dietrich, and Victor Fleming, both 1939's "The Wizard of Oz" and "Gone with the Wind".
For "All Quiet on the Western Front", Lewis Milestone would win the "Academy Award for Best Director".
Erich Maria Remarque received credit for writing the novel, "Im Westen nichts Neues (Nothing New in the West)".
Maxwell Anderson received the credit for the adaptation of the novel and writing some of the additional dialogue. Anderson was an American playwright, author, poet, journalist, and even a lyricist.
Maxwell Anderson was also the lyricist for the popular "September Song", from his Broadway play, 1944's, "Knickerbocker Holiday".
Del Andrews also helped Maxwell Anderson with adapting the novel for a screenplay. Andrews was a silent "B" cowboy screenplay writer, but was mainly a silent cowboy movie director for Hoot Gibson, the forgotten Fred Thompson, and Bob Custer.
George Abbott wrote the actual main screenplay. Abbott was also a multi-talented member of the motion picture industry for eight-decades. Besides being a screenplay writer, he was also a playwright, and both a legitimate theatre and motion picture producer.
The Maxwell Anderson, Del Andrews, and George Abbott screenplay would be nominated for the "Academy Award for Best Screenplay".
The Silent Screen Version:
There was an actual "Silent Film" version, because as late as 1930, "Universal Pictures" still had many studio owned movie theaters in the United that had yet to convert to sound. Additionally, many European countries also had yet to convert to sound technology, or it was not compatible to the United States sound at the time.
Walter Anthony created the title cards to be used in the silent version as dialogue. That dialogue was by the uncredited Lewis Milestone, based on the sound screenplay.
Milton Carruth was the film-editor of the silent version. He was actually one of the newly created sound film-editors since 1929, with only four such films before this assignment.
From "Universal Pictures" music department, department head, David Broekman, chose Sam Perry and Heinz Roemheld, to create the music score for the silent film version.
The running time of the silent version was 133-minutes, or 19-minutes shorter than the original sound release.
Lew Ayres, billed as Lewis Ayres, portrayed "Paul Baumer". This was twenty-years-old Ayres fourth on-screen appearance, his first two were uncredited small roles, but his third was fifth-billed in Greta Garbo's, 1929, "The Kiss", and it was Ayres who gave Garbo the title "kiss".
His status with independent movie makers changed with the end of the war, when he co-starred with Olivia de Havilland in the independent film-noir, 1946's, "The Dark Mirror". Followed by co-starring with Ann Sheridan, and Zachery Scott, in the independent, 1947, murder mystery, "The Unfaithful".
Just prior to portraying "Kat", Louis Wolheim was in the Conrad Nagel and Kay Johnson, adventure crime drama, 1930's, "The Ship from Shanghai". Wolheim followed this feature by co-starring with Jean Arthur and Robert Armstrong, in the 1930 adventure drama, "Danger Lights".
John Wray portrayed "Himmelstoss. This was Wray's second on-screen appearance, previously he was a Broadway actor who started out with roles in William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" and "Hamlet". As for his on-screen roles, in 1932, he recreated the role of "Frog", originated by Lon Chaney, in the remake of "The Miracle Man". Also in 1932, Wray portrayed "Dr. Haines", in the Fay Wray and Lionel Atwill, Technicolor horror movie, "Dr. X".
Arnold Lucy portrayed "Professor Kantorek". Lucy was actually a British stage actor, he was born Walter George Campbell, in Tottenham, Middlesex. England. His first on-screen role was in 1916's, "The Devil's Toy", filmed in the United States. Lucy bragged that he had appeared 1,200 times on the London stage, before making his first movie.
Just prior to "All Quiet on the Western Front', Arnold Lucy appeared in the still silent, 1930's, "City Girl", starring Charles Farrell and Mary Duncan. That American movie was directed by Friedrich Wilhelm "F.W." Murnau, the German director of the classic 1922, "Nosferatu".
William Blakewell portrayed "Albert Kropp". For fans of 1950's science fiction, Blakewell portrayed "Ted Richards", in the 1952 "Cliff-Hanger/Serial", "Radar Men From the Moon". For fans of Walt Disney, he portrayed "Major Tobias Norton", in both television episodes, 1954's, "Davy Crockett Indian Fighter", and 1955's, "Davy Crockett Goes to Congress". Starting with an episode of televisions 1950, "Dick Tracy", William Blakewell's main income was from that new medium rather than motion pictures. In all the character actor portrayed 218 different roles over his career that started in 1923.
The motion picture was pre-"Production Code", aka: the "Hayes Code". That although written and agreed to in 1930, was not enforced until 1934.
In the school room, a group of young men including 20-years-old "Paul Baumer" are listening intently to "Professor Kantorek". The "Professor" is telling them about the glory of serving in "Kaiser Wilhem II's" army and "saving the fatherland" against the French and British. It is the first year of the First World War and patriotism and dreams of high honor to their parents, their village, and their country awaits them.
However, the romantic vision of war and defending the fatherland starts to dissolve, as the one-time students meet the villages ex-mail man, but now as their superior, "Corporal Himmelstoss". Who is seeking revenge on the way the students teased him in the village. The sadistic "Himmelstoss" puts the new recruits through a very fast and harsh training schedule.
They next find themselves assigned to a unit composed of older combat veterans that do not welcome the new mouths to feed. The new soldiers haven't eaten for days, something over time they will get use too. However, "Corporal 'Kat' Katzinsky" has stolen a pig from the field kitchen and slaughtered it for the unit. Trading cigarettes for a meal, they finally eat.
The new recruits, or should I say still shocked students, are sent to the front. They now experience trench warfare and the death of a member of their group,"Behn", portrayed by Walter Browne Rodgers.
After hearing that they would be returning to the front lines the next day. The group now starts a semi-serious discussion of the causes of war and war in general.
During the long night, "Paul" has attempted to save the soldier, but to no avail.
"Paul" is taken to the bandaging ward, were, according to its reputation, nobody returns. However, the frightened "Paul", learns otherwise. While this was transpiring, also taken to the hospital is "Paul's" good friend and fellow student, "Albert Kropp", whose leg is amputated. When "Paul" returns to the general ward, he finds "Albert" in a state of extreme depression.
Back on the front line, "Paul" sees a butterfly and reaches out from the trench to touch it. A shot rings out and he is dead. It is "All Quiet on the Western Front"!
In late 1939, after the attack on Poland by Nazi Germany, a shorten version of "All Quiet on the Western Front" was released in the United States with the following poster;
Actor Burgess Meredith, who would narrate this motion picture, persuaded his close friend producer Samuel Bronston to produce the motion picture. Initial production began, but problems developed with creditors backing the picture and Bronston was forced to shut it down. Later, he would produce among other epic films in the 1960's, "King of Kings", "El Cid" and "The Fall of the Roman Empire". My article, "SAMUEL BRONSTON Movies Featuring a Cast of Thousands", may be read at:
After directing 1931's, "The Front Page", Lewis Milestone directed the 1932 version of "Rain", starring Joan Crawford portraying prostitute "Miss Sadie Thompson", from the 1921 short story, "Miss Thompson", by W. Somerset Maugham. As a peculiarity of early sound motion pictures that was left over from the silent era, Milestone received no on-screen credit for directing the feature film. He did get credit although as the film's producer. In 1935, Milestone married Kendell Lee, and their marriage lasted until her death in 1978. In 1939, Lewis Milestone directed author John Steinbeck's, "Of Mice and Men", starring Burgess Meredith portraying "George", and an outstanding Lon Chaney, Jr. portraying "Lennie".
The Nine Names on the Above Poster:
Dana Andrews portrayed "Sgt. Bill Tyne". Andrews had just seen in the 1945, crime film-noir, "Fallen Angel", directed by Otto Preminger, and co-starring Alice Faye and Linda Darnell. He would follow this feature film with director Jacques Tourneur's, 1946, western, "Canyon Passage", co-starring Brian Donlevy and Susan Hayward.
John Ireland portrayed "PFC. Windy Craven". This was John Ireland's first motion picture appearance. His fifth would be portraying "Billy Clanton" in director John Ford's, 1946, "My Darling Clementine". My article, "John Ireland: Westerns, Film-Noirs, A Little McCarthyism and a Few Affairs", is at:
Sterling Holloway portrayed "Pvt. 'Mac' McWilliams". For Walter Elias Disney, Holloway would become, or had been the voices of 'Mr. Stork", in 1941's, "Dumbo", the "Adult Flower", in 1942's, "Bambi", "Professor Holloway" in 1944's, "The Three Caballeros", the "Cheshire Cat", in 1951's, "Alice and Wonderland", the "Narrator/Mr. Stork", in 1951's, "Lambert the Sheepish Lion", "Amos Mouse", in 1953's, "Ben and Me", "Winnie the Pooh", in 1966's, "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree", "Kaa the snake", in 1967's, "The Jungle Book", "Winnie the Pooh", in 1968's, "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day", "Roquefort" in 1970's, "The Aristocats", the "Narrator" for, 1973's, "I'm No Fool with Electricity", "Nessie", in 1974's, "Man, Monsters and Mysteries", "Winnie the Pooh" in 1974's, "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too", and "Winnie the Pooh", in 1977's, "The Many of Adventures of Winnie the Pooh".
Not to forget his many motion picture and television comedy and serious roles between 1926 and 1986.
The novel and screenplay focus upon the fifty-three men of a platoon in the army's 36th Infantry Division, made up of members of the Texas National Guard, that was known as the "Texas Division" aka: the "Panther Division", aka: the "Lone Star Division", and aka: "The T-Patchers".
The story is set in September 1943, as the platoon is on a landing craft heading toward the beach and the invasion of Italy at Salerno.
An actual member of the "Texas Division", who participated in the invasion of Italy at Salerno was Audie Leon Murphy! For those who may be interested in the "Most Decorated Soldier" in the Second World War. My article, "Audie Murphy: The Medal of Honor, Westerns, Song Writing, and PTSD", is found at:
"Staff Sergeant Eddie Porter" now divides the men into three squads, one under himself, the other two under "Sergeant Tyne" and "Sergeant Ward".
Machine gunner, "Pvt. Rivera" and his friend "Pvt. Friedman" start razzing each other as the others relax and listen to the two on friendly reverie.
A single German armored car now approaches the platoon and "Porter" has a complete break down and starts crying.
"Tyne" assigns "Pvt Johnson", portrayed by Alvin Hammer, to stay with the still crying "Sgt. Porter". Then assigns "PFC. Windy Craven", a very calm and introspective soldier, to take charge of "Porter's" squad.
The platoon finally reaches the farmhouse and "Staff Sgt. Ward" leads a small patrol to check it out.
Behind a stone wall, "Staff Sgt. Tyne" and his men await nervously for "Pvt. Rivera" and "Pvt. Friedman" to open fire. As "Windy" and the others move through the river toward the bridge.
It is now exactly twelve-noon, "Windy", "Ward", and the remaining men wander through the farmhouse and "Farmer" finds an apple and starts eating it. While, "Staff Sgt, Tyne" adds another notch on the beloved tommy-gun that once belonged to they now deceased "PFC Tim Rankin", portrayed by Chris Drake, below.
'A Walk in the Sun' is so different—materially and intentionally—from any other film dramatization of the war that it is difficult to judge it by the usual standards of comparison. Yet it seems to be the most satisfying of the soldier films—the most convincing in its portraiture of the U.S. soldier, the least contrived in plot and characterization and the first war film to attempt successfully a style and composition of its own....Yet it is not the theme ballad, nor the sparse though mighty excitement of the film's moments of combat, that make [it] a memorable film. Rather it is most distinguished for the real and comradely relationships among men of varying origins and modes of life, for its vital and sparkling dialogue...and for its unaccented tribute to the resourcefulness of the American soldier, working out battle problems with the co-operation and efficiency of a smart football team.
PORK CHOP HILL premiered in New York City on May 29, 1959
Sy Bartlett was primarily a screenplay writer and novelist. This was only his second of six motion pictures he produced. After this feature, he would produce another Gregory Peck motion picture, the original 1962, "Cape Fear", co-starring Robert Mitchem and Polly Bergen. He also produced and co-wrote, 1969's, "Che!", starring Omar Sharif portraying "Che Guevara" and Jack Palance portraying "Fidel Castro".
The book is "Pork Chop Hill: The American Fighting Man in Action, Korea Spring 1953", published in 1956.
The Screenplay Writer:
James R. Webb start writing screenplays, in 1941, for Roy Rodgers "B" westerns. He co-wrote the screenplay for 1952's, "The Iron Mistress", starring Alan Ladd portraying "Jim Bowie". Webb wrote the screenplay for the 3-D western, 1953's, "The Charge at Feather River", starring Guy Madison, and co-wrote the 3-D, 1954, "Phantom of the Rue Morgue", loosely based on the Edgar Allan Poe story. In 1954, James R. Webb co-wrote both of director Robert Aldrich's "Apache", starring Burt Lancaster, and 1954's, "Vera Cruz", starring Lancaster and Gary Cooper. Just before this feature film. Webb co-wrote with Sy Bartlett and Robert Wilder, director William Wyler's, 1958 epic western, "The Big Country", starring Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, and Carroll Baker.
The above poster reflects the name choices of the publicity department of the "Pork Chop Hill" distributor, "United Artists". The are using selected actor's names, a normal practice, to lure their potential audience into the movie theater. Rather than a true reflection of the size and importance of the actor's roles in the screenplay, other than Gregory Peck.
The Two Actual People:
Gregory Peck portrayed "Lieutenant Joe Clemons". Joseph Gordon Clemons, Jr. is one of only two real soldiers mentioned in the screenplay. It was his command on "Pork Chop Hill", "K Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry", during the Korean War, that served as S. L. A. Marshall's centerpiece for his work on the battle. Later, Clemons would serve in Vietnam and retire from the army in 1977 with the rank of Colonel, seen below. He was also the technical advisor on the motion picture.
Robert Blake portrayed "Pvt. Velie", who looses his rifle, and becomes a runner for "Clemmons". The role has almost no dialogue, but Blake makes it reverting.
Blake started out in Hal Roach's "Our Gang" comedies in 1939, in 1944, he became the sidekick, "Little Beaver", in a series of 23-movies with either "B" cowboy, "Wild Bill Elliot", or Allan Lane, portraying comic strip western hero, "Red Ryder". In 1967, Robert Blake starred in director Richard Brooks' version of author Truman Capote's, "In Cold Blood". From 1975 through 1978, he was televisions "Baretta" with that parrot.
Bob Steele portrayed the very small sixth-billed role of "Colonel Kern". Bob Steele was a major "B" Cowboy actor that started in his father's produced movies in 1921. He left his birth name of Bob Bradbury, Jr. and became Bob Steele with 1927's, "The Mojave Kid", and his career as a cowboy actor began for real. That movie was still directed by his father. From 1940's, "Under Texas Skies", through 1943's, "Riders of the Rio Grande", Steele took over the role of "Tucson Smith" in the highly successful "The Three Mesquiteers" western series. From 1940's, "Billy the Kid Outlawed", through 1941's, "Billy the Kid in Santa Fe", Bob Steele was also portraying the "Good" Billy the Kid in another series of films. Back in 1939, he portrayed "Curley Jackson" in director Lewis Milestone's version of author John Steinbeck's, "Of Mice and Men". The actor followed this motion picture with the role of "CPO 'Grif' Griffin" in the 1959, cult science fiction movie, "The Atomic Submarine".
The hill was shaped like a "Pork Chop", and stood 980 feet high, and according to the Americans, had no strategic value. It was first taken in October 1951, by the 8th Cavalry Regiment. It would be lost to the Chinese/North Koreans and retaken in May 1952, and lost again on March 23, 1953.
Which brings me to what the Americans referred to as the "Battle of Pork Chop Hill", and the Chinese/North Koreans referred to as the "Battle of Seokhyeon-dong Northern Hill".
To be historically accurate, there were actually two battles fought. The first won by the Americans was from April 16th through April 18, 1953, the second won by the Chinese/North Koreans was from July 6th through July 11, 1953.
Back on July 10, 1951, in the city of Panmunjom (Panmunjeon), if you were from South Korea, the city was located at Paju, Gyeonggi Province, but if you were from North Korea, it was located at Panmun-guyok, Kaesong. This was because the site was a village just north of the de facto border between North and South Korea, talks began on an armistice agreement. That agreement would not be signed until two-years-and-seventeen-days later, on July 27, 1953.
The book, "Pork Chop Hill: The American Fighting Man in Action, Korea Spring 1953", was only about the "First Battle" of Pork Chop Hill.
It becomes dawn and they have yet to reach the crest of the hill. The radio man has been unsuccessful making contact with the "First Platoon" and "Lt. Ohashi". Spotting "Pvt. Velie" looking around for either the rifle he lost, or a replacement rifle. "Lt. Clemons" turns him into a runner and points "Velie" in the direction of the "First Platoon" and gives him a verbal message for "Lt. Ohashi".
"Pvt. Velie" has been working his way back to "Lt. Clemons" with "Lt. Ohashi" original verbal response, but had come across a Chinese/North Korean machine gun nest. He tosses hand grenades into it, one doesn't go in and bounces at "Velie" going off and badly injuring his arm.
The runner completes his assignment and reports back to "Lt. Clemons", who instructs him to go downhill to the medical unit.
The attack and diversion are successful and the crest is taken for the moment. He goes back to the bunker and contacts "Davis" at headquarters.
Lt. Joe Clemons" and "Lt. Suki Oshashi" now have only twenty-five combat troops left with them.
The twenty-five-soldiers and two-officers, now prepare the bunker and the trench for the inevitable Chinese/North Korean attack and their deaths. As the Americans await the coming attack, in another place, the Chinese radio broadcaster, decides on a record to play after telling them to surrender.
Apparently, the American negotiators finally realized that the Chinese/North Korean's are pouring men into the battle for no other reason than to test the resolve of the Americans. So, major reinforcements had been ordered up the hill.
Lewis Milestone's next motion picture was the Frank Sinatra and his "Rat Pack's", original, 1960, "Ocean's Eleven".
The three-hour-and-five-minute motion picture was a flop and lost an estimated four to six million dollars based upon the estimated budget upon release. This was Lewis Milestone's last feature film.
In 1964, Lewis Milestone ended his career by directing one episode, each, of televisions "The Richard Boone Show", and a forgotten drama, entitled "Arrest and Trial".
Lewis Milestone's wife, Kendall Lee Milestone passed away in 1978, he passed away on September 25, 1980 at the age of 84.