... is the
guest speaker scheduled for the 148th meeting of the Karl Hess Club, to
convene on October 16, 2006.
Ben Pleasants on
"Edward Dmytryk's Hollywood Dialectic"
says: "Edward Dmytryk
was one of the greatest film directors of the 20th Century. He'd
agree to that. He was the opposite of windbags like Orson Welles,
but what remains of his work bears that out. Dmytryk always filled
me with hope. His vision of the world was to FILL THE GLASS--not
leave it half anything, as opposed to those who always see the glass empty.
"I got to know
Dmytryk in his 90's, when he was still as sharp as a Samurai sword and
did the London Times crosswords every morning.
include three great epochs of which he was justly proud: The
Caine Mutiny with Humphrey Bogart's greatest performance, The
Young Lions (Brando and Clift's only film together), and Raintree
County, which the studio took from him, but still has amazing performances
by Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift and Lee Marvin.
in the vanguard of film noir, with works like Mirage (Gregory Peck) and Murder
My Sweet (where William Powell reinvented himself).
"He did some
of the great sex breakthrough films, including Richard Burton's Bluebeard (where Burton set out to seduce each female member of the cast, including
Raquel Welch). Dmytryk was one of Spencer Tracy's favorite directors.
They did The
Mountain and The
Broken Lance, together with Robert Wagner, who Tracy demanded in the
"Carpetbaggers is another great film on sex and Hollywood. Dmytryk got incredible
performances from Alan Ladd, Carroll Baker, and Archie Moore, the great
boxer. I'll tell you about the film Dmytryk did with Ozzie and Harriet,
and Bogart's The
Left Hand of God, along with the squabble the Communist Party had over Crossfire,
novel about anti-gay brutality in the military that somehow became an anthem
on anti-Jewish discrimination.
"He championed the work of John
Fante on film, and directed The
Reluctant Saint and Walk
on the Wild Side. Fante loved Eddie!
" 'My obit will be that I named
names,' Dmytryk told me as I was finishing an article for Los Angeles Magazine.
And it proved to be so, in the LA Times a few days after he died.
But there is life after obits. That's the purpose of this talk.
"Edward Dmytryk was a humanist
who became a member of the Communist Party for less than a year during
WWII, but when he saw for himself the Stalinist strait jacket the CP had
planned for Hollywood, Dmytryk reviled the Stalinists in Hollywood: the
gang like John Howard Lawson who covered up the Gulag. It was Ted
Turner of Turner Classic Movies who gave Dmytryk his due.
book about his life inside the Communist Party!
"I'm here to discuss his legacy
and a devoted friend. I'll pass out a letter Marlon Brando wrote
to me in his praise. I'll let you hear for yourselves a little of
the ten hours of tapes I did with Edward Dmytryk. I think you'll
enjoy what he had to say."
About Ben Pleasants
"My last book was Visceral
Bukowski (2005, Sun Dog Press). My next is Bukowski
Fante & The Maserati Moon.
My last two plays were Contentious
Minds: The Mary McCarthy/Lillian Hellman Affair (2002) and The
Hemingway/ Dos Passos Wars (1998).
My next play is Mencken
& Sara: A Love Story." My new novel, The Thrill of Agony & The Victory of Defeat will be published in
2008 by a gigantic New York firm."