Play it Again, Uncle Sam
By Charlie Haviland
The Deer Hunter
The Bridge on the River Kwai
When my colleague Luke Castle asked me to write a blog about film and Memorial Day, I eventually thought about my favorite war movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” the British American epic released in the year of my birth, 1957. “River Kwai” was filmed on location in Sri Lanka, won seven academy awards, and director David Lean got one chance to blow up a quarter million dollar bridge. After the final scene was shot, producer shipped the film to London on five different aircraft for the same reason the President of the United States and Vice-President never travel on the same plane: to minimize catastrophic loss.
But, the film never arrived. Normally, in the 1950’s, British film productions filmed on location would be shipped by boat. The Suez Crisis of 1956 precluded safe water travel. After seven days of waiting in London for the 70 mm-6 track Technicolor film containers, panic struck. The moving pictures of William Holden and Alec Guinness were found on a steamingly hot tarmac in Egypt. Panic struck again over the heat sensitive color film’s vulnerability. Producers feared the worst.
And, what we got was the best. Best Picture. Best Director. Best Actor. Best Supporting Actor. Best Adapted Screenplay. Best Score. Best Editing. Best Cinematography.
Memorial Day is a serious, noble homage that evokes barbeque and white fashion. Some of us go to the movies; most relish the unofficial liftoff of summer outdoors, weather permitting. So when Royal Starr Film Festival board member Luke Castle asked me to write about film and Memorial Day, my first instinct wasn’t festive mirth. I thought of Audie Murphy, the World War II hero who I thought died in the war. (He didn’t. He come home, made movies, and died a prematurely alcoholic death). I then thought of River Kwai.
And today, my thoughts turned to Casablanca, Stripes, The Deer Hunter, & The Bridge on the River Kwai. Which one doesn’t belong as a war movie? You decide.
I don’t know, but I’ve been told…….Here’s looking at you kid.