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Biography of director George Stevens by his son. It includes clips from many of his films with commentary by the actors and by directors such as Frank Capra, John Huston and Alan Pakula, among others. Also included are Stevens's war "home movies," found only after his death. Assigned by Eisenhower to film the war in Europe, Stevens used the opportunity to produce, at the same time, the only color footage ever shot in World War II. There is breathtaking film of D-Day and its aftermath; the triumphal march through Paris of the Allied liberators; and the unspeakable horrors of Dachau. This is what Goya might have done with a movie camera. On a more mundane level is a segment on Cecil B. DeMille's 1950 underhanded attempt to oust Joseph L. Mankiewicz, then president, from the Directors' Guild, which Stevens was instrumental in blocking. Written by
Jacqueline Jarvis <email@example.com>
George Stevens, Jr. produced and narrates this look at his father's life and work. It includes interviews with Katharine Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Hermes Pan, Joel McCrea, Warren Beatty, and Mrs. Stevens, all of which are very interesting.
The most fascinating parts of this documentary are the ones which show footage from Stevens' own camera. There is on the set material from various films and his amazing World War II films of the liberation of Paris, Dachau, and the Normandy invasion. Staggering and stunning. This perhaps deserved its own documentary, and I believe that later on, the footage was released separately.
Film clips include parts of: Alice Adams, The More the Merrier, Shane, Diary of Anne Frank, Giant, A Place in the Sun, The Greatest Story Ever Told. Shelley Winters, not interviewed here, sadly, tells the story in her autobiography of Stevens having them rehearse without dialogue. It's perhaps the secret of the intimacy that is often captured in his films. "The More the Merrier" clip is that of an improvised love scene between McCrea and Arthur.
Someone commented here that it's not for Stevens Jr. to canonize his father. Being in the field of classic film, I disagree. This may not be a perfect documentary, and it may not dwell on his father's failures, such as the overblown The Greatest Story Ever Told. The common problem faced by many of these great filmmakers is that as the studio system collapsed and Hollywood changed, it was difficult for them to adjust.
The point is this: yes, the legacy speaks for itself - but who is there to hear it speak if the families don't honor their famous relative? A son's insight may be biased, but it's also more enlightened in many respects. If anyone believes there is some huge movement afoot to see that these wonderful contributors to film history are remembered, they're wrong. Even the theaters once devoted to classic film hesitate to show them now because they can't make any money. I say bravo to anyone willing to make a documentary on any aspect of classic film.
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