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Fred Zinnemann and the Cinema of Resistance

Fred Zinnemann and the Cinema of Resistance

J. E. Smyth
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Fred Zinnemann and the Cinema of Resistance
    Book Description:

    Fred Zinnemann directed some of the most acclaimed and controversial films of the twentieth century, yet he has been a shadowy presence in Hollywood history. InFred Zinnemann and the Cinema of Resistance, J. E. Smyth reveals the intellectual passion behind some of the most powerful films ever made about the rise and resistance to fascism and the legacy of the Second World War, fromThe Seventh CrossandThe Search to High Noon, From Here to Eternity, andJulia. Smyth's book is the first to draw upon Zinnemann's extensive papers at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and brings Fred Zinnemann's vision, voice, and film practice to life.

    In his engagement with the defining historical struggles of the twentieth century, Zinnemann fought his own battles with the Hollywood studio system, the critics, and a public bent on forgetting. Zinnemann's films explore the role of women and communists in the antifascist resistance, the West's support of Franco after the Spanish Civil War, and the darker side of America's national heritage. Smyth reconstructs a complex and conflicted portrait of Zinnemann's cinema of resistance, examining his sketches, script annotations, editing and production notes, and personal letters. Illustrated with seventy black-and-white images from Smyth's collection,Fred Zinnemann and the Cinema of Resistancediscusses the director's professional and personal relationships with Spencer Tracy, Montgomery Clift, Audrey Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, and Gary Cooper; the critical reaction to his revisionist Western,High Noon; his battles over the censorship ofFrom Here to Eternity, The Nun's Story, andBehold a Pale Horse; his unrealized history of the communist Revolution in China,Man's Fate; and the controversial study of political assassination,The Day of the Jackal. In this intense, richly textured narrative, Smyth enters the mind of one of Hollywood's master directors, redefining our knowledge of his artistic vision and practice.

    eISBN: 978-1-62674-013-6
    Subjects: Film Studies, Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION The Cinema of Resistance
    (pp. 3-24)

    Few of Hollywood’s legendary directors remain as consistently enigmatic as Fred Zinnemann. Over the years, through interviews, autobiographies, and biographies, striking pictures have emerged of Alfred Hitchcock’s menace and charm, of John Ford’s grim bad temper, of Orson Welles’s buccaneering streak, and of John Huston’s wry humor.³ There are no biographies of Fred Zinnemann to date, and his autobiography, published in 1992, is focused almost entirely upon anecdotes from his film productions. Unlike other European émigré directors William Wyler and Billy Wilder, Zinnemann never really “went Hollywood,” or, for that matter, American. His personal life did not make the front...

  5. CHAPTER ONE From Germany to Algeria, and Other Historiographies of Resistance
    (pp. 25-56)

    Fred Zinnemann was one of many filmmakers to leave an increasingly fascist Europe for Hollywood. He sailed to New York in the autumn of 1929, following close friend and documentary filmmaker Günther von Fritsch, who had settled in New York City. But, as he recalled, “two weeks in New York convinced me that hardly any ‘real’ movies were made there; Hollywood, a totally separate world . . . seemed to be the only answer.”² He headed west, scouting the Hollywood landscape for a job. Trained as a cameraman at Paris’s new Technical School of Cinema, one of his first moves...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Surviving Voices and the Search for Europe
    (pp. 57-94)

    When Fred Zinnemann finishedThe Seventh Crossin 1943, his position at MGM was still uncertain. However, Spencer Tracy enjoyed working with him, and when the strong reviews began to appear in the trade papers, Zinnemann was assigned other A–feature projects seemingly at random. A director at MGM was expected to complete any project without complaint. But Zinnemann knew the particular type of motion pictures he wanted to make. They were not films likeLittle Mister Jim(1946) andMy Brother Talks to Horses(1947), and several rejected scripts later, he voluntarily went on suspension.³ Executive Eddie Mannix had...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Un-American Western
    (pp. 95-122)

    Mgm was stunned by the domestic and international success ofThe Search, and studio executives attempted to renew Zinnemann’s contract instead of firing him. But after fulfilling the terms of his original, reinstated contract withAct of Violence, he quietly left the studio, eventually signing with independent producer Stanley Kramer for a three–picture deal.³ Zinnemann’s first project for Kramer also brought Marlon Brando to Hollywood. In many ways,The Men(1950) resonates with Zinnemann’s interests in the social consequences of the Second World War; Brando’s character was based on the experiences of a real wounded soldier and his agonizing...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR American Fascists
    (pp. 123-148)

    Between 1952 and 1953, Zinnemann became one of Hollywood’s star directors. His ambition and rebellious need for artistic control over his work were often at odds, but for a few years, he took Jerry Wald’s advice and prospered. Years before, when he made the transition to A features, his brother George kidded him over the future compromises he would have to make as he climbed the Hollywood ladder (only George would dare to call him an “anemic little prostitute”).³ DirectingHigh Noonbrought him an industry–wide recognition and public notoriety, but his two collaborators, Carl Foreman and Floyd Crosby,...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Breaking the Silence of Women in the Resistance
    (pp. 149-174)

    Fred Zinnemann first read Kathryn Hulme’s novel,The Nun’s Story(1956), at the suggestion of Gary Cooper, who thought the book would make a strong film.³ Cooper was a shrewd judge of the studio system. Since at least the 1920s, producers had depended heavily on the adaptation of women’s fiction to attract their largest group of patrons.⁴ This connection was so strong that by 1937, American cultural critic Gilbert Seldes suggested that the studios masculinize their films in an effort to win back male viewers. But as other film historians have pointed out, filmmakers like David O. Selznick, Jerry Wald,...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Aging Revolutionaries and the Loss of History
    (pp. 175-200)

    After the grueling location work in Australia forThe Sundowners(1960), Zinnemann became involved with Walter Mirisch’s production of James Michener’sHawaiifrom 1961 to 1963. He eventually withdrew, finding this second Hawaiian film about European missionaries less interesting thanFrom Here to Eternityand overburdened with a massive script and $15 million production cost.³ While embroiled in the preproduction forHawaii, he read former Archers screenwriter Emeric Pressburger’s new novel,Killing a Mouse on Sunday(1961), and was excited by its resonances with the death of the Spanish anarchist leader, Francisco Sabaté, in 1960. Making this film would enable...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Resistant Women in Contested Frames
    (pp. 201-238)

    In a corner of one of his pages of film notes onJulia, Fred Zinnemann wrote, “I am in a totally false position,” and then circled it for emphasis. As it is part of a tapestry of sketches for camera set–ups, script jottings, commentary, and phone numbers written in several varieties of his handwriting, the small note is very difficult to see. There are thousands of pages of Zinnemann’s production notes in his archive. But as with all of his films, every detail counts. When Zinnemann signed to directJuliafor Twentieth Century–Fox, he was nearing seventy. He...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 239-282)
    (pp. 283-304)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 305-317)