FIVE CAME BACK – When Hollywood was Actually Brave

MV5BMjMwOTM1MTY5NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjQ0MTM4MTI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_World War II has fascinated me since I was a child. The lore attached to the conflict fired my imagination, and fun period action films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Rocketeer only added to my fascination. To my young mind, it was the ultimate battle between good and evil, where the lines couldn’t be any clearer.

As I grew older, and I began to look into the history of the era, my fascination matured and transformed into admiration and respect for the men and women who fought that war. It was a time of great sacrifice and hardship  – something that hasn’t really been seen since.

Five Came Back was an outstanding look at a part of the World War II-era I was not familiar with. This film celebrates the important contributions of the American film industry to the war effort – specifically the wartime cinematic accomplishments of five legendary directors: Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life), John Huston (The African Queen), George Stevens (Shane), William Wyler (Ben-Hur), and John Ford (The Searchers). These men showed the war to the public, garnered support for the conflict, and literally recorded history. Some of their footage even sealed the fate of the Nazi war criminals after the fight was over.

Five Came Back

Five Came Back is not just an amazing portrait of the courage of those five filmmakers – who braved everything from bombings in the Pacific to the D-Day invasion to bring footage back to the people, and came back with the horrors seared into their memories. It caused me to think about today’s entertainment industry, how far things have fallen in the past seven decades, and what true bravery actually looks like.

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Reviewing the Classics: THE SEARCHERS

searchersI love a good western. It is the quintessential American genre. A portrait of ourselves at both our most noble and most despicable. A genre of selfless heroes and terrible villains. A showcase of the American landscape, as seen by the men and women who first braved to cross it – full of wonder and awe.

There is no better western than The Searchers.

Sixty years ago this year, The Searchers made its debut and forever changed the western – even though it was tepidly received upon its initial release. Today it is revered by casual filmgoers, critics, and filmmakers alike as one of the most important films of all time. It is one of director John Ford’s best films and arguably star John Wayne’s best performance of his career.

The film follows a former Confederate soldier, Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), and his kinsman, Martin Pauley (Jeffrey Hunter), as they brave obstacles (natural and unnatural) and the slow passage of time to attempt to find a member of their family kidnapped by the Comanche Indians. The journey becomes an unhealthy obsession, as Ethan’s quest to find his niece, Debbie, slowly devolves into vengeance-fueled madness.

The Searchers has influenced many filmmakers in the six decades since its debut. Legendary director Martin Scorsese has often cited The Searchers as one of his favorites and has talked extensively about the film. Its staying power is derived from its themes and characterizations. The film has a lot to say about thematic concepts that are just as relevant to today’s world.


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