Trailer: World War II Hollywood Directors “Five Came Back”

The series “Five Came Back” is about John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens.  These five prominent Hollywood filmmakers went out in World War II to document this horrific event in their own unique way.

If you don’t know already, you will know that I am a history junkie for World War II.  I’ve been to the museums (thank God Los Angeles now has the USS Iowa), fired many WW2 weapons and met many military veterans.

Official Trailer

John Ford – who directed such classics as “The Searchers” and “Stagecoach” was actually Admiral John Ford.  The Battle of Midway was a turning point in the Pacific War against the Japanese who lost four fleet carriers in the decisive strategic engagement.

Directors Became Soldiers

William Wyler‘s “Memphis Belle” concentrated on the air war over Germany, focusing on a single crew struggling to endure bombing missions over the Third Reich and go home.  The air war was extremely dangerous.  The infantry was safer than the air. 

Between 1942 and 1945 Wyler volunteered to serve as a major in the United States Army Air Forces and directed a pair of documentaries: The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944), the story of a Boeing B-17 and its U.S. Army Air Force crew;[33] and Thunderbolt! (1947), with Lester Koenig and John Sturges, highlighting a P-47 fighterbomber squadron in the Mediterranean.[4] Wyler filmed The Memphis Belle at great personal risk, flying over enemy territory on actual bombing missions in 1943; on one flight, Wyler passed out from lack of oxygen. Wyler’s associate, cinematographer Harold J. Tannenbaum, a First Lieutenant, was shot down and perished during the filming.[34]

 Huston’s Report from the Aleutians, Capra’s The Battle of Russia, Stevens’ Nazi Concentration Camps, and Stuart Heisler’s The Negro Soldier are also the focus of the series. 

Huston’s Film Were Too Real for the Army

John Huston’s films for the Army were heavily censored due to his emphasis on their realism.

In 1942 he served in the United States Army during World War II to make films for the Army Signal Corps. While in uniform with the rank of captain, he directed and produced three films that some critics rank as “among the finest made about World War II: Report from the Aleutians (1943), about soldiers preparing for combat; The Battle of San Pietro (1945), the story (censored by the Army) of a failure by America’s intelligence agencies which resulted in many deaths, and Let There Be Light (1946), about psychologically damaged veterans, also censored for 35 years, until 1981.[4]

Netflix will launch the series, directed by Laurent Bouzereau, on March 31.

John Ford’s Battle of Midway – Colorized