Friday, February 20, 2015
Hollywood’s Forgotten Hero
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Yet, among all from Hollywood who served, only one became a fighter ace. That distinction belonged to actor Wayne Morris, who seemed headed for stardom in the late 1930s, after his performance in Kid Galahad, alongside Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis. At 6’2″ with an athlete’s physique, Morris looked the part of a heavyweight boxer. Critics praised his “natural, realistic performance.”
Three years later, Morris decided to learn to fly in preparation for “Flight Angels,” a “B” feature from Warner Brothers, where he was under contract. While the film was largely forgettable, Morris discovered an affinity for aviation. He earned his private pilot’s license and with America’s entry into World War II, he joined the Naval Reserve. Morris completed military flight training in 1942 and (like Jimmy Stewart) was initially assigned as a flight instructor.
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Almost a decade later, Morris mounted a career comeback, receiving good notices for playing a washed-up boxer on Broadway in William Saroyan’s The Cave Dwellers. That same year (1957), Stanley Kubrick cast Morris in Paths of Glory, as a drunken, cowardly French infantry officer in World War I. Movie-goers who knew of Morris’s record as a brave, tenacious fighter pilot appreciated the irony of Kubrick’s decision, and the actor delivered: his performance as Lt Roget is remembered as one of his finest.
Sadly, Paths would mark one of final screen appearances. During a reserve tour on the carrier Bon Homme Richard in 1959, Morris suffered a massive heart attack and died a short time later at a navy hospital in Oakland, CA. He was 45 years old.
Fifty-five years after Wayne Morris’s passing, Hollywood is speculating about this year’s competition for Best Picture, which includes American Sniper. There is general consensus that Clint Eastwood’s film about Chris Kyle will lose to one of the other entries, since many academy voters are squeamish about his depiction of the Navy SEAL sniper, who killed 160 enemy combatants with a dedication and determination that some (falsely) depict as racism.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Chris Kyle understood the savagery of war, as did Wayne Morris. It’s one more reminder of how much Hollywood has changed over the past 70 years, and not for the better.
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I knew this story partially from my fascination with Hollywood “war” movies as child.
I was a “child” in this respect until into the early 70’s where I saw the cost of the Viet Nam “war”, Carter’s Pardon for evaders, and the perfidy of the Gooferment, its politicians and bureaucrats, and the Crony Capitalists.
Ike warned of the military – industrial complex. I knew about the warning. But failed to heed it.
So too “Hollywood” was once populated by stand up people. During the two World Wars, if someone was too “valuable”, too infirm, or otherwise unqualified to get into the fighting, they often became “dollar a year men” working in important government posts to free others. It was a “patriotic” time.
And, just as Ike warned, the Gooferment became the fearful master. Lying propaganda from the media made it easy to lull “We, The Sheeple” to sleep.
Hard times are coming. Made harder still by the loss of “leadership”.
Hollywood is decadent, hedonistic, socialistic, and too politically correct for its own good.
No wonder they are treated as the trivialities they really are.
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