Cover Image: From the Battlefield to the Big Screen

From the Battlefield to the Big Screen

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Member Reviews

Very interesting and insightful with lots of facts I had not known previously….. In this book, the author honours the real-life stories of some big screen idols who showed true grit behind the glamour.
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Princess Fuzzypants here:  This is an intriguing book that features three film stars who were also deeply involved in WWII.  Audie Murphy was a genuine war hero whose many awards and citations made him a star before he ever graced the screen.  As he said the distance between bravery and cowardice is narrow and it took a lot of courage to pursue an acting career.  He died young in an airplane crash but he would never have reached the theatrical heights of the other two main characters in the book.

Laurence Oliver (and Vivian Leigh) were not only stars of the stage but movie stars in Hollywood when war broke out.  All Brits over the age of 30 were encouraged to stay where they were and use their talents to sway opinion in favour of Britain.  But Sir Larry wanted to get into the fray.  He had learned to fly and saw himself as a swashbuckling aviator.  Sadly for him, his time in uniform was brief and uneventful.  He learned that his greatest contribution would be on the screen to motivate and inspire.

The third actor is Dirk Bogarde who did serve in several theatres of war.  His skill as an interpreter of aerial shots was important work and he was good at it.  He also, like Murphy, saw the carnage of war and the Nazi regime.  He entered Bergen Belsen shortly after it was liberated and the sights would haunt him throughout his life.  After the war, he resumed his theatrical career but it was when the movies discovered him, he became one of the biggest British box office draws.

All three were private, complex men whose performances on screen would help shape the perceptions of war for decades to come.  Where the book really digs deep is in covering the stories of both the artistic and military people whose lives intersected their own.  There are several stories included in the book that really touched me.  One was the way Dirk Bogarde made it his mission to make sure young people understand what happened in the Holocaust.  All three of them took their roles in portraying their experiences and those of others as honestly as they could.  That was not always the case on the silver screen and that alone separates them from the crowd.

Five purrs and two paws up.
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I was intrigued by this book because I am a film fan and recognize the four stars she covers in this book.  We not only learn the backstory of each of the key actors (Audie Murphy, Laurence Olivier (Vivian Leigh) and Dirk Bogarde)., we also learn about their wartime experiences which I had not really known.  This is an interesting read but at times tedious and yet other times not comprehensive enough -- hard to strike the right balance.  I am more interested in the making of films than I am about military battles so found myself a bit bored when it went into detail of different battles, etc.  But for those readers who are interested in WWII history and are familiar with these stars, this would be a great read.

Thank you to Netgalley and Pen & Sword for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I was immediately intrigued by the concept of this book, and was not at all disappointed. Such a fascinating look into the bizarre world of film-making at an incredibly tumultuous time. Brimming with amazing stories, well-researched and written wonderfully.
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I was a little surprised by Melody Foreman's From the Battlefield to the Big Screen, but in a good way. My expectations may have been low, so many books that center celebrities tend toward fluff. Foreman gives the stories of these stars but also does a very good job of telling the history of the war that surrounds their specific experiences within it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that this is a very interesting mix of biography, filmmaking, and history. While I appreciate this as the book's strength, I can see where some readers might, initially, see it as a weakness. If you come to the book expecting primarily biography, for example, you could feel let down. Let me simply make the suggestion that you adjust your expectations to what the book is and not what it never claimed to be. Like me, you may find yourself enjoying a much wider story and learning how some dots connect between those three areas.

I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in WWII, WWII films, and cinematic stars of the period. There really is a lot here to engage with.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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This book details the Second World War experiences of Audie Murphy, a highly decorated veteran who became a somewhat troubled post-war screen actor. It also examines the war experiences of Laurence Olivier and his second wife, Vivien Leigh and finally the war years of Dirk Bogarde.
An interesting enough book although the choice of subjects seems quite arbitrary.
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I really enjoyed reading this, it was a interesting concept and the title was what drew me in. I could tell that Melody Foreman has a great writing style and I could tell that she researched the topic. It was engaging and did what I wanted on this type of book. I liked that this was about a variety of actors and actresses so it worked in the read.
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