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This is a DVD extra that is included on the second disk for "Sergeant
York". It consists of interviews with surviving cast members Joan
Leslie and June Lockhart as well as film historians. In addition, film
clips and clips of various happenings around the country are used.
The first portion of the film is background for the Gary Cooper, the real life Alvin York as well as the production itself. It's full of interesting tidbits. However, the second portion I appreciated more because it put everything in historic context. There were lots of surprises about the reaction to the film when it debuted. I had no idea that still in 1941 there was THAT MUCH public support for isolationism. I knew this was true through the 1930s but had no idea it still was that strong. Additionally, I had no idea that there were Congressional efforts to silence the film. In other words, because of some 'Neutrality Act', they wanted to stop the film makers' First Amendment rights to express opinions that might have seemed pro-war!! Crazy!! Overall a very enjoyable extra. My only reservation is how the film tended to whitewash Gary Cooper a bit. The film described him as being almost exactly like the real life York other than York was quite loquacious. However, Cooper's libido (i.e., his off-screen conquests) are rather legendary and saying he was like the ultra-religious York is a bit ridiculous. A very fine actor...but also a legendary 'player'.
I am used to just fast-forwarding through extras on DVD double-discs,
so "Sergeant York: Of God And Country" caught me totally unawares.
Instead of the usual focus on silly anecdotes about the daily
production, this is something else entirely.
It is that rare documentary about a movie which gives you far more than info on the movie, though it certainly does give you all you need and want to know about the history of the film and its production. However, it also gives you a fascinating history of the era in which it was made, everything from anti-Semitism and isolationism to rural America and WW II.
I can't recommend this highly enough. My only complaint would be that it is too short. It moves along so smoothly, the story-telling -- for that's what it is, the history lesson is nothing less than beautifully crafted story-telling -- is so effortless. that it's over before you know it.
This is how these "making of" docs should be done! Could use this in both film class and history class.
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