From the Battlefield to the Big Screen

Audie Murphy, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Dirk Bogarde in WW2

Melody Foreman

Look closely behind the lives of the stars who appeared in a host of legendary war films and discover how memories of their real-life experiences in the armed forces were haunted with heartbreak and yet filled with extraordinary heroism.
Date Published :
December 2022
Publisher :
Frontline Books
Language:
English
Illustration :
16 black and white illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Hardback
ISBN : 9781526737717

Dimensions : 9.2 X 6.1 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-OrderPages : 256
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$49.95

Overview
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Look closely behind the lives of the stars who appeared in a host of legendary war films and discover how memories of their real-life experiences in the armed forces were haunted with heartbreak and yet filled with extraordinary heroism. Just what did America’s most decorated soldier Audie Murphy go through in battle which led him to star as himself in the classic war film, To Hell and Back?

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Murphy joined the US Army aged just 17. He went on to fight at Anzio, the Colmar Pocket, and Nuremberg. And for single-handedly holding off an enemy attack he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. But Murphy’s military and celebrity stardom did little to extinguish the pain of his private battle to fit in to a new post-war world he perceived as disappointing, shallow and unfulfilling. Tormented by PTSD Murphy was a man unable to escape from his past. Only the great director and decorated wartime documentary maker John Huston gained Murphy’s true respect.

When war broke out on 3 September 1939, a number of British stars, including Laurence Olivier, his future wife Vivien Leigh, and David Niven, were in the United States under contract to the Hollywood Studios. Keen not to ‘shirk their duties at home’, and against advice from the British Consul, they made their way back to Blighty.

Olivier joined the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm as a pilot. Then with Churchill’s approval he directed and starred in powerful propaganda films, including Shakespeare’s Henry V. In 1943 the beautiful Vivien Leigh ruined her health by enduring the brutalities of the North African climate to entertain the troops in the desert. Meantime, Dirk Bogarde was a British Army intelligence officer seconded to the pioneering RAF Medmenham where he studied aerial photographs and pinpointed enemy targets for Bomber Command. As Lieutenant van den Bogaerde he was posted to France just after D-Day. He went on to star in many leading war films such as Appointment in London (1953) and King and Country (1964). Years later in 1991 Sir Dirk Bogarde was interviewed by the author of this book. He had witnessed the horrors of Belsen in April 1945 and said it changed his attitude to life forever.

In this book, the author honors the real-life stories of some big screen idols who showed true grit behind the glamor.

About The Author
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MELODY FOREMAN is a qualified journalist and graduate with experience in newspapers and television documentaries. She is the author of the best-selling Bomber Girls, A Spitfire Girl, the biography of ATA pilot Mary Ellis, and has also written two books about the history of Kent. Melody is a contributor to Britain at War magazine and a former editor of the Kent Battle of Britain Museum magazine. She maintains an avid interest in the Air Transport Auxiliary, the social history and reportage of both world wars, vintage aviation, film studies, literature and Dutch art.

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