Lewis Milestone: Life and Films

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ISBN: 9780813178332; Hardcover
344 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 51 b&w photos
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Lewis Milestone: Life and Films
by Harlow Robinson

This comprehensive biography is the first to present Lewis Milestone's remarkable life -- a classic rags-to-riches American narrative -- in full and explores his many acclaimed films from the silent to the sound era. Creator of All Quiet on the Western Front, Of Mice and Men, the original Ocean's Eleven and Mutiny on the Bounty, Lewis Milestone (1895-1980) was one of the most significant, prolific, and influential directors of our time. A serious artist who believed in film's power not only to entertain, but also to convey messages of social importance, Milestone was known as a man of principle in an industry not always known for an abundance of virtue.

Born in Ukraine, Milestone came to America as a tough, resourceful Russian-speaking teenager and learned about film by editing footage from the front as a member of the Signal Corps of the US Army during World War I. During the course of his film career, which spanned more than 40 years, Milestone developed intense personal and professional relationships with such major Hollywood figures as Howard Hughes, Kirk Douglas, Marlene Dietrich, and Marlon Brando. Addressed are Milestone's successes -- he garnered 28 Academy Award nominations -- as well as his challenges. Using newly available archival material, this work also examines Milestone's experience during the Hollywood Blacklist period, when he was one of the first prominent Hollywood figures to fall under suspicion for his alleged Communist sympathies.

Harlow Robinson is professor of History and Screen and Media Studies Emeritus at Northeastern University. He is the author of Sergei Prokofiev: A Biography; The Last Impresario: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Sol Hurok; Russians in Hollywood, Hollywood's Russians: Biography of an Image; and editor and translator of Selected Letters of Sergei Prokofiev. His articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, Opera News, Musical America, Cineaste, the San Francisco Chronicle, and other publications. In 2010 he was named an Academy Film Scholar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Book Reviews:

"This highly readable biography of Lewis Milestone delivers the definitive study of a leading Jewish émigré director in Hollywood from the 1920s to the 1960s who worked successfully across multiple genres. Robinson seamlessly layers the scholarly expertise of a noted film historian of Russia and the Soviet Union with a novelist's gift for narrative power and dramatic flair, bringing long overdue attention to Milestone's fascinating life and enduring artistic achievements."

-- Catherine Portuges, University of Massachusetts Amherst



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