Lewis Milestone

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Scharphedin2
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 7:37 am
Location: Denmark/Sweden

Lewis Milestone

#1 Post by Scharphedin2 » Mon Apr 09, 2007 1:40 pm

Lewis Milestone (1895-1980)

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Filmography

Posture (1918)

Positive (1918)

The Toothbrush (1918)

Fit to Win (1919)

Seven Sinners (1925)

The Caveman (1926)

The New Klondike (1926)

Fine Manners (uncredited, 1926)

The Kid Brother (uncredited, 1927) New Line (R1) -- as part of The Harold Lloyd Collection / Optimum Releasing (R2 UK) -- as part of Harold Lloyd: The Definitive Collection

Two Arabian Knights (1927)

The Garden of Eden (1928) Flicker Alley (R1)

Tempest (uncredited co-director, 1928) Image Entertainment (R1) / Kino (R1) -- also included in the John Barrymore Collection

The Racket (1928)

Betrayal (1929)

New York Nights (1929)

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) Universal (R1) / Universal (R2 UK)

The Front Page (1931) Madacy (R1)

Rain (1932) Image Entertainment (R1) / Alpha (R1) / Roan (R1)

Hallelujah I'm a Bum (1933) MGM (R1)

The Captain Hates the Sea (1934)

Paris in Spring (1935)

Anything Goes (1936)

The General Died at Dawn (1936) Universal (R1) -- as part of The Gary Cooper Collection / Opening (R2 FR)

The Night of Nights (1939)

Of Mice and Men (1939) Image Entertainment (R1) / Arrow Films (R2 UK)

Lucky Partners (1940) Manga Films (R2 ES)

Know For Sure (uncredited, 1941)

My Life with Caroline (1941)

Our Russian Front (1942)

Edge of Darkness (1943)

The North Star (1943) Catcom (R1) -- as double-bill with Orson Welles' The Stranger

Guest In the House (uncredited, 1944) Alpha (R1) / Glass Key (R2 UK)

The Purple Heart (1944) 20th Century Fox (R1) / 20th Century Fox (R2 UK)

A Walk in the Sun (1945) Alpha (R1) / Front Row (R1) / VCI (R1) -- tbr August 2009 in a restored and un-cut edition

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) Paramount (R1) / Image Entertainment (R1) / Alpha (R1)

Arch of Triumph (1948) Kinowelt (R2 DE) /Suevia (R2 ES) / Lionsgate (R1 US) -- tbr October 2009

No Minor Vices (1948)

The Red Pony (1949) Artisan (R1)

Halls of Montezuma (1950) 20th Century Fox (R1) -- also included in Heroes of War Collection: Frontline Combat / 20th Century Fox (R2)

Kangaroo (1952)

Les Miserables (1952) 20th Century Fox (R1) -- as double-bill with Richard Boleslawski's film version from 1935

Melba (1953)

La Vedova X (The Widow) (1954)

They Who Dare (1954) Optimum Releasing (R2 UK) -- also included in The Complete War Collection

Schlitz Playhouse of Stars (TV episode “Guys Like O'Malley”, 1958)

Suspicion (TV episode “The Bull Skinner”, 1958)

Have Gun - Will Travel (2 TV episodes “Hey Boy's Revenge” and “Girl from Piccadilly”, 1958) Paramount (R1) -- included in Have Gun - Will Travel: The Complete 1st Season

Pork Chop Hill (1960) MGM (R1) / MGM (R2 UK)

Ocean's Eleven (1960) Warner Brothers (R1) -- also included in The Rat Pack Collection / Warner Brothers (R2 UK)

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) Warner Brothers (R1) -- also included in The Marlon Brando Collection

The Richard Boone Show (TV episode "The Hooligan", 1964)

Arrest and Trial (2 TV episodes "A Roll of the Dice" and "An Echo of Conscience", 1964) EDI Video (R1 US) -- included in Arrest & Trial: Part 1 (1963-1964)


Forum Discussion

All Quiet On the Western Front

Alpha -- brief references to A Walk In the Sun and Rain.

Flicker Alley -- discussion of the status of release of Milesone's Two Arabian Knights and The Racket.

Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!

The Red Pony (Lewis Milestone, 1949)


Recommended Web Resources

Ferdinand Von Galitzien -- The illustrious Count talks about The Garden of Eden on his blog.

Film Reference

imdb

Pix -- short appraisals of several Milestone films by one Christopher Mulrooney

They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?


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Scharphedin2
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 7:37 am
Location: Denmark/Sweden

Re: Lewis Milestone

#2 Post by Scharphedin2 » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:01 am

An emigree from what is now Moldova in the Russian federation, Lewis Milestone came to America before the outbreak of the Great War. He served in the Signal Corps, where he worked as assistant director on a number of army training films. He then became a US citizen in 1919, at which point he had already begun his career in the film industry.

After a number of relatively successful silent films (Two Arabian Knights (1929) winning him the Oscar for best director of a comedy), he directed All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), which was hailed universally as one of the masterpieces of early sound film, and landed him his second Oscar for best director. Then the following year, he again won the Oscar as best director! This time for the comedy The Front Page. Although he had a long career in Hollywood, and was considered a consummate professional by the industry (so much so, that one of the criticisms that has been leveled at him has been a tendency to wing it through some of the pictures he was assigned to direct), he never seemed to fully live up to the promise of these early successes.

If the internet is any barometer of a director’s reputation, Milestone’s would largely appear to be completely non-existing. As far as I can tell, there is not a single serious discussion or appraisal of Milestone’s work online. Yet, a look over his filmography reveals that he in fact did direct a long list of excellent films. After The Front Page followed such acclaimed films as Rain, Hallelujah, I’m a Bum, The General Died at Dawn and Of Mice and Men, and then focusing on the war effort during the early forties, he directed The North Star, The Purple Heart and A Walk In the Sun, all of them including impressive sequences, and the latter certainly one of the most interesting war films that I have seen.

After the war, Milestone’s output would appear to taper off, although there is the excellent noir thriller The Strange Case of Martha Ivers, and the wonderful Steinbeck adaptation The Red Pony, as well as such big budget crowd pleasers as Mutiny On the Bounty and Ocean’s Eleven.

* * * * *

Not much has happened on the Milestone front, since I originally created this filmmaker’s profile. I did add a few new DVD releases to the filmography -- most exciting is probably the prospect of a restored and un-cut release of A Walk In the Sun, which VCI has announced for later this year (2009).

Several of his films are represented on DVD by numerous different PD companies. In each case, I chose to list just one or two of these. The interested viewer can do a more extensive search.

I am sure that there is a thread somewhere in the forum dedicated to Hallelujah, I’m a Bum, but I was unable to find it for inclusion.

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Sloper
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 10:06 pm

Re: Lewis Milestone

#3 Post by Sloper » Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:46 pm

A Walk In the Sun is indeed terrific, and if it weren’t for the awful ballad running through it (very nearly as bad as the one in Rancho Notorious) I’d say it’s a better war film, in some ways, than All Quiet. Its doesn’t insist on its own brilliance as much as the earlier film, though there are some really beautiful tracking shots – including one, if I remember rightly, which tracks along a line of soldiers, and then tracks back again, all at breakneck speed – and the battle scenes are some of the most truly suspenseful I’ve ever seen. The sequence, near the beginning, where Dana Andrews and the medic are crouched in their trench, listening to the battle playing out on a beach just a hundred yards away, is a small masterpiece in itself. Empty shots of sky are suddenly pervaded by clouds of black smoke, and the fact that so much action is left unseen for most of the film really ratchets up the tension – when a German plane does hove into view, or an armoured car comes rolling round the corner, you feel a genuine sense of panic.

Most really mature war films – the ones that are trying to say something meaningful – tend to focus on the sheer tedium and frustration of being a soldier, the amount of time spent not doing anything, waiting for something to happen, worrying about the commanding officer’s competence. Milestone handles all these aspects with an easy mastery, especially the panicking C.O., who is too often demonised in films like this (cf Attack), but here is presented in a very well-rounded, sympathetic-but-not-sentimental fashion. In fact, it’s in the portrayal of human beings that the film really excels. The dialogue feels a little over-stylised, even grating, at the beginning. But the acting is so good, and Milestone is so self-assured in his ability to find poetry and drama in endless two-shots of men talking about nothing, that the film cumulatively (and unassumingly) achieves a really overwhelming power, and despite the relative lack of incident is utterly gripping. The characters are not sentimentalised to the extent that they are in All Quiet, but you spend so much time with them that, without quite realising it, you come to know them all very well, and it’s traumatic when one of them falls by the wayside. And after all this, the brusque massacre at the end, and John Ireland’s final line – ‘It was so easy, so terribly easy’ – are quite devastating.

For my money, it blows The Naked and the Dead – all 750 pages of it – right out of the water, but I may be alone on that one.

Sharphedin, do you know what is meant by ‘un-cut’ in this instance? A quick search on the upcoming DVD hasn’t turned up anything. To be honest I’d pay quite a lot for a cut version, without the singing, which really punctures the film’s minimalist, un-portentous aesthetic.

As an aside, I didn’t know Milestone was involved in The Kid Brother. Even by Lloyd’s high standards, that was a particularly well-made film.

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Tommaso
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am

Re: Lewis Milestone

#4 Post by Tommaso » Sun Jul 05, 2009 2:15 pm

Well, my knowledge of Milestone is very limited, that is, it only stretches to "All Quiet", "Arch of Triumph" and "The Racket", the last of which I recently was able to see due to some kind soul sending me a copy of the TCM broadcast. However, while I think "All Quiet" lives up to its reputation (though it nowhere comes near the inventiveness of Bernard's "Wooden Crosses"), the other two films appeared to me as well-made, but after all, rather conventional. "Arch of Triumph" has a fine performance by Ingrid Bergman, but seems to be rather dragging and undramatic in places. "The Racket" is a nice silent gangster movie, but somehow it failed to really engage me, too. After these three films, I had the feeling that Milestone is foremost a storyteller, not someone who necessarily wants to blow you away via the visual department; a good worker in the industry, nothing more, nothing less.

But then, I fear very much that this is one of my more uninformed posts here, so perhaps someone could enlarge a bit on why Milestone should be considered an important director.

vivahawks
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:48 pm
Location: hollywoodland, ca

Re: Lewis Milestone

#5 Post by vivahawks » Sun Jul 05, 2009 4:03 pm

My Milestone knowledge is limited to a half-dozen movies or so, and he's one of the many directors whose work I've always wanted to see more of but haven't gotten around to (perhaps because his stuff is more easily available so I feel safer about putting it off). Based on what I have seen his early sound films are comparable to Mamoulian's and perhaps Tay Garnett's (another director whose early work needs to be seen) in their attempts to effectively integrate camera movement and editing in the new technology, although Milestone's tracking shots are less subjective than Mamoulian's and mostly used to inject momentum and rhythm. I'm guessing this was also his main contribution to The Kid Brother, which uses camera movement to tell the story and set up gags to a greater extent than the other Lloyds I've seen. While his camerawork is sometimes showy and undisciplined, I prefer it to the rather academic sense of montage he shows in Hallelujah and elsewhere.
Not surprisingly the quality of his work depends a lot on the quality of the base material, and his best work that I've seen is the 1931 Front Page, which uses clever tracking shots, including a few effective circular dollies, to relieve the claustrophobia of the setting. As long as you ignore the inevitably unfavorable comparisons to His Girl Friday, it's one of my favorite early sound comedies: Milestone's faithfulness to the original text works well (and keeps Hecht and MacArthur's hilarious ending) and Adolphe Menjou's natural diabolical quality is put to good use as Walter, plus Edward Everett Horton shows up as a hapless reporter, which by itself would be enough to make the movie worthwhile.

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Tommaso
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am

Re: Lewis Milestone

#6 Post by Tommaso » Sat Jul 11, 2009 7:03 am

The very excellent German Count, Herr Ferdinand von Galitzien, gives us his aristocratic thoughts on Two Arabian Knights.

I really love that blog, in general.

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triodelover
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 2:11 pm
Location: The hills of East Tennessee

Re: Lewis Milestone

#7 Post by triodelover » Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:34 pm

All Quiet on the Western Front coming to BD on Valentine's Day.

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Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

Re: Lewis Milestone

#8 Post by Gregory » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:19 pm

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, because this is Universal releasing a blu-ray of a film from 1930, but I wonder if there's any chance they'll come up with many substantial extras for that price. It seems like there is getting to be an accepted practice among some of the the major studios of setting a retail price of $40 for blu-rays even with little to no extra content. Their 2007 DVD edition was $15 and was an outstanding, well-priced disc for having no enticing extra content. It was a huge jump in quality over the disc from 1999, which I'd already bought. This one, for SRP $40, I guess we'll have to wait and see.

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triodelover
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 2:11 pm
Location: The hills of East Tennessee

Re: Lewis Milestone

#9 Post by triodelover » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:27 pm

Gregory wrote:Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, because this is Universal releasing a blu-ray of a film from 1930, but I wonder if there's any chance they'll come up with many substantial extras for that price. It seems like there is getting to be an accepted practice among some of the the major studios of setting a retail price of $40 for blu-rays even with little to no extra content. Their 2007 DVD edition was $15 and was an outstanding, well-priced disc for having almost no enticing extra content. It was a huge jump in quality over the disc from 1999, which I'd already bought. This one, for SRP $40, I guess we'll have to wait and see.
I would certainly rather see the 2007 extras ported over that have Digital Copy, BD Live and "mobile features". Makes you wonder if they understand who the target audience is.

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Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

Re: Lewis Milestone

#10 Post by Gregory » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:35 pm

The 2007 extras ported over... the trailer and the two-minute Robert Osborne introduction? Am I forgetting something? The 1999 DVD called out for improvement, but the 2007 transfer was so good that I think it'll be hard to justify an expensive double- or triple-dip just for 1080p.

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triodelover
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 2:11 pm
Location: The hills of East Tennessee

Re: Lewis Milestone

#11 Post by triodelover » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:00 pm

Gregory wrote:The 2007 extras ported over... the trailer and the two-minute Robert Osborne introduction? Am I forgetting something? The 1999 DVD called out for improvement, but the 2007 transfer was so good that I think it'll be hard to justify an expensive double- or triple-dip just for 1080p.
Well, either I need to learn to read more carefully or get up off my butt and go look at my own copy before replying. :oops: However I still say they're misreading their market.

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Jeff
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:49 pm
Location: Denver, CO

Re: Lewis Milestone

#12 Post by Jeff » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:24 pm

The Blu-ray supplements are:
Introduction by Turner Classic Movies host and film historian Robert Osborne
Two 100 Years of Universal featurettes:
- Restoring the Classics
- Academy Award Winners
The silent version of All Quiet on the Western Front

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triodelover
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 2:11 pm
Location: The hills of East Tennessee

Re: Lewis Milestone

#13 Post by triodelover » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:51 pm

Jeff wrote:The Blu-ray supplements are:
Introduction by Turner Classic Movies host and film historian Robert Osborne
Two 100 Years of Universal featurettes:
- Restoring the Classics
- Academy Award Winners
The silent version of All Quiet on the Western Front
:oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

OK, I'm officially an idiot, since I had to use this page to get to the link I originally provided. I always hated being obvious.

How does the silent version differ? My understanding is that it's the same film provided with intertitles for theaters not yet sound-ready in 1930. Were scenes cut or shortened to allow for the intertitles?

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Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

Re: Lewis Milestone

#14 Post by Gregory » Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:05 pm

There are a few idiots on the forum, but you're definitely not among them.
I believe there were some instances in the silent version of different edits and footage. I don't think it's a big difference, but it's interesting to see how some of the early talkies play as silents. This is still completely a wait-and-see and wait-for-major-discounts proposition for me, and I'm a fairly passionate fan of this film. As I was saying above, I resent what I perceive as a strategy of "let's set SRP at $40 because we can," as I think too much of that kind of thing will be bad news for the viability of the format

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triodelover
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 2:11 pm
Location: The hills of East Tennessee

Re: Lewis Milestone

#15 Post by triodelover » Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:15 pm

Gregory wrote:There are a few idiots on the forum, but you're definitely not among them.
I believe there were some instances in the silent version of different edits and footage. I don't think it's a big difference, but it's interesting to see how some of the early talkies play as silents. This is still completely a wait-and-see and wait-for-major-discounts proposition for me, and I'm a fairly passionate fan of this film. As I was saying above, I resent what I perceive as a strategy of "let's set SRP at $40 because we can," as I think too much of that kind of thing will be bad news for the viability of the format
It will be interesting then to see. It's a film I'm a big fan of the film and if I can find a sale/coupon/pricing mistake ( [-o< ) I'll probably spring. The only disc I own IIRC where I can make the direct comparison of a contemporaneous silent/talkie issue is the German DVD of Hitchcock's Blackmail and I think I actually prefer the silent version if only because I don't care for the Anny Ondra dub.

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Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

Re: Lewis Milestone

#16 Post by Gregory » Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:08 pm

Gregory wrote:There are a few idiots on the forum...
I feel a little regret for that comment, even though I wasn't talking about anyone in particular. Wasn't quite my best self yesterday.

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