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Lewis Milestone, John Huston

This week in the New York Times, a glance at two fine films by directors whose work knew some wide variations in quality and commitment. From VCI comes at last a watchable copy of Milestone’s superb “A Walk in the Sun,” a film about men in combat made during the last months of World War II and governed by a reflective, mature sensibility quite at odds with the propaganda films to which wartime audiences had become accustomed; it looks forward to the postwar masterworks of Wyler (“The Best Years of Our Lives,” to which “A Walk in the Sun” could almost function as a prequel) and Ford (“They Were Expendable”). And Lionsgate has made good on its corporate promise to issue a do-over of their flawed release of John Huston’s “The Dead” last November. The missing reel has been restored (and the running time on the box has been accordingly updated from 72 to 82 minutes, so check the back before you buy). Those who purchased the abridged version can get a replacement copy by sending a scan of your receipt (you saved it, of course!) to

265 comments to Lewis Milestone, John Huston

  • Joseph McBride

    Adrian, your story reminds me of the late Daily Variety reviewer Jim Harwood, who wrote a glowing review of the exploitation movie SIX PACK ANNIE. It was all tongue in cheek, but readers reacted with consternation, thinking he was actually praising it to the skies. It proves what a high school teacher of mine advised me: “Don’t use irony. People won’t understand it.” I’ve been disobeying that ever since, but he had a point.

  • Joseph McBride

    Adrian, you and other Mr. T fans (among whom I count myself) will enjoy this bizarre photo I used to send as a postcard:

  • Steve Elworth

    Thanks for the photo which i had repressed.

  • I really enjoyed D.C. CAB too, and have long recommended it on my web site. Mr. T is very good in it.

    Bad pun: Mr T should make a movie about a currency trader. It would be called BITTER YEN OF MR. T 🙂

  • Brian Dauth

    Peter: Thank you for one last gift of insight in 2009. At the beginning of DEAD END there is a sign at the end of the pier that is only photographed from behind, but its pole is so thick and black that I always feel Wyler uses this pole to demarcate the affluent section of the city from the impoverished one. We never see what the sign says, but its early use to bisect the frame lingers in the mind though the sign is never seen again in the movie.

    You have also brought to mind the bike on the lawn in THE DESPERATE HOURS. In some ways, it is the catalyst for the action since it is regarded by the gangsters an indication that the house has children (which is what they want). I kept wondering why nobody ever bothered to pick it up since it forced Wyler to keep having to deal with it when he showed the front of the house (which is often). Now the bike makes perfect sense, and I want to watch the movie all over again.

  • Before last weeks Howard Hawks thread disappears, along with 2009:
    The elaborate opening track in SCARFACE is not perhaps as unique in Hawks as it seems. It shows people walking through architecture.

    So do pans in THE CROWD ROARS showing :
    The heroes, as they enter the father’s garage, pushing the racecar.
    Soon, Cagney will exit the garage, in a fairly long shot that is a slow, stop-and-start pan.
    A pan shows the heroes walking into the LA train station for the first time.
    Soon, another pan shows the mechanic and his family leaving the station.

    RIO BRAVO has an episode, showing Wayne and Martin patrolling the streets by night. They walk down opposite sides of the street. The film cross-cuts between them. Each is followed by a moving camera. Most often, we get a more or less lateral camera movement, as they walk along the buildings. Occasionally, the camera moves foreword, more-or-less viewing them from the front as they walk.

    There is probably more of this, elsewhere in Hawks.

  • Happy New Year to everyone!
    And a big Thank You to Dave Kehr.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘To my knowledge, there has been no “respectful silence.” But Polanski did commit a crime’

    I was quoting from Jonah’s post. Polanski was given trial and is under arrest. He will suffer for his crime, should not be allowed to escape with no consequence. Cheyney and Rumsfeld is not condemned, no trial for them, even if some people know what they have done. Powerful men who ruled are escaping justice. I am thinking of ‘respectful silence’ about Emporer Showa even if there is book about him that says he is war criminal, but no Japanese PM or diet member will say it, so it is respectful silence. That is my idea trying to express here.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Tony, Polanski already paid a “huge” restitution (of what?) to his victim, who has stated many times that it was all in the past and she didn’t want to prosecute. What he did was awful, but at the time a lot of that stuff was going on — all those flower girls in the streets of San Francisco and New York and everywhere…(I’m not sure it’s not getting on now, although the flower girl has become out of style, but I’m too ignorant about the subject to express an opinion, although I’m pretty sure nothing much has changed). I mean, 12 year old girls have sex today and send their naked photos to “friends” on their cell phone or whatever.

    The comparison with Cheney and Rumsfeld seems to me absurd, those people have enormous political power, they can do almost anything they want as long as they are in power and they will never be “punished” because there are no legal ways to do it even if there was a real desire to, which probably would involve a kind of revolution — something that’s unthinkable in this great country).

    Look at the Emperor of Japan — he was never indicted for anything after Japan lost the war. Still he must have had quite o few deaths on his conscience.

    The more people you kill (or are responsible to killing) and the least chance you have to be ever “punished.”

    Happy New Year to all anyway.

  • Peter Henne

    Thanks, Brian! Now I want to resee THE DESPERATE HOURS too.

  • Tony Wiliams

    JP, It is a known fact that Polanski has made no financial restitution to the victim he raped when she was a young girl. The incident was far from the flower power example you cite since the court transcripts clearly record that she pleaded in vain with Polanski not to commit the act – but he did.

    Yes, both you and Junko cite the case of the Emperor who got away with it. But look who protected him -General MacArthur. When Truman removed him from his position, he described the Japanese as “children” before Congress. This removed any respect the Japanese had for him up to that point and it is no accident that Riki Takeuchi refers to this in one significant scene in Kinji Fukasaku’s posthumous BATTLE ROYALE 2 while also critising an infantile power behind the Japanese political system that can only settle problems by childish exercise of violence.

    Junko, you probably know the scene that I am referring to. Only the extreme right wing deny his guilt and he is also responsible for the plight of those unfortunate “comfort women” who were used and abused by the Showa military establishment. One of the most telling scenes in Taskahi Miike’s IZO is the hero’s realization that the Japanese soldiers were also victims so he gives up slashing them and goes after the high command.

    Anyone who breaks the law whether Polanski,serial rapist Arthur Koestler, or those high up such as Hirohito, George W. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tony Blair etc deserve punishment and we should not forget this.

    A Happy New Year to everyone on this stimulating forum.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘both you and Junko cite the case of the Emperor who got away with it. But look who protected him -General MacArthur.’

    Yes, that is right Tony. He was protected by MacArthur and some people in American State Dept. I will mention a book in English about this subject, The Occupation of Japan, Origin of the Cold War in Asia by Michael Schallert. It will tell that some Japanese civilians wanted emporer to abdicate and tried for war crimes, but because he was not tried, that is main problem with Tokyo Trial for war crimes. Protecting emporer had bad effect on Japan, only helped right wing.

  • Michael Dempsey

    Another book that details how the Emperor Hirohito was no mere figurehead but was actively involved in World War II, only to be shielded from prosecution for political reasons during the Occupation by General Douglas MacArthur and others is Herbert P. Bix’s “Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan”. Bix is an American scholar who has lived in Japan and taught in Japanese universities for years. His wife is Japanese, and he credits many Japanese colleagues, including his father-in-law, for helping him gather material for this biography.

  • Kent Jones

    Tony, I’m inclined to agree with you on the flower power issue, but I believe Jean-Pierre is correct about restitution. There’s conflicting information on the internet, because the topic is so heated, but a friend who had some legal dealings with another case involving Polanski told me that the victim had been paid something.

  • Gregg Rickman

    Polanski and war crimes! What a cheery way to start the new year.

    How about another cereal-powered name for the past decade, instead of “Cheery 0s”: “The Special Ks”?