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Story of G.I. Joe

1945

 

Overview Portraits Ernie Pyle Burgess Meredith Lester Cowan & Notables The Cadet Nurse Corps Artist SketchesMovie Scenes

 

Cast, crew and others gather for a group photograph on the set of Story of G.I. Joe.  Over 150 combat veterans of the North African and Sicilian campaigns in WW II played themselves in this film.  Nominated for four Academy Awards, G.I. Joe was an honest treatment of the rigors of combat from the doughfoot's perspective.

Overview

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to identify a more loved and respected writer in the sweeping panoply of American journalism than Pulitzer Prize winner Ernie Pyle.  The Story of G.I. Joe is the film adaptation of Pyle's 1943 book "Here Is Your War", a frank discussion of the 1942 North African campaign called "Operation Torch" and the 1942-43 invasion of Sicily called "Operation Husky".  How this film became a reality, so quickly after the book's publication, is an interesting story in the annals of Hollywood.  Filming took place in the last quarter of 1944, and Ned Scott was there with his cameras.  Independent film producer Lester Cowan and Director William Wellman were the key people in the production of the film.

THE BOOK

The initial step was writing the book, of course.  Ernie accomplished this in the first half of 1943 before his return to the U.S.A.  in a Pan Am Clipper ship.  George Biddle made the famous sketch of Ernie at Zeralda , a suburb outside the city of Algiers, where Ernie was catching up on his writing tasks and making the finishing touches on the last chapter of "Here Is Your War".  Biddle's sketch wound up on the cover jacket of the book's first printing.   The book immediately became the year's foremest best seller, making Ernie an overnight fortune.  Ernie spent some relaxing time at home in Albuquerque with his wife Jerry and friends, but soon he was making plans to travel again. Very quickly he was approached by independent fim producer Lester Cowan, who wanted to purchase the film rights for the story.  Ernie finally agreed with Cowan's proposal in Washington where he and Cowan met as he waited for his departure back to Italy and the war front once again.

THE PRODUCER

By the time Ernie arrived in Europe, the Allies had invaded Italy itself.  Ernie intended to pay a visit to the Italian front but before that could take place, he was diagnosed with anemia in Naples.  Army medics cured him with injections, leaving him free to continue to the Anzio-Nettuno area to the north.  He had intended to spend only a few days there, but he wound up staying for weeks with the troops in the shell-swept and aricraft bombed beachhead where the Allies were trapped.  Ernie was nearly killed at that time.  Following this troubled sojourn at Anzio, Ernie returned to Naples where he tidied up his writings and prepared to ship out to England for the long awaited invasion of France.  He arrived there in mid-April, 1944. 

While Ernie was thus occupied, Lester Cowan was busy with two things: one, creating the script for the film, and second, finding a suitabe director.  The first task proved to be fairly straight forward.  He selected four men for the script writing job based on Ernie's book: Guy Endore, Phillip Stevenson, Leopold Atlas and Ben Bengal.  With script in hand, off he went to  secure a director.  This task proved to be difficult.  Cowan could have settled for just about anyone as Ernie was so popular and venerated around the country.  But he settled on William Wellman for the role of director.  Wellman appealed mainly because he was a war veteran himself, having performed as an airman with distinction in the Lafayette Flying Corps in France in 1917-18.  Wellman then distinguished himself directing the movie Wings in 1927, the first film to win the coveted Best Picture Award from the very first Oscar award ceremony at the Academy.  But there was a hidden problem which Cowan could not envision, and which caused him great difficulties in securing the services of Wellman as director. 

THE DIRECTOR

Right after July 28, 1944, William Wellman was at his home in Brentwood, Caifornia when Lester Cowan knocked on his door.  Wellman had never heard of Cowan, but in he came, uninvited, into Wellamns' home.  Cowan announced that he was a producer of motion pictures, and then he launched into his plans for G.I. Joe, the story about the doughfoot.  Wellman waited for Cowan to run out of steam, and then he declined the offer, nicely.  However, Cowan was not listening, and he would not take no for an answer.  Finally, Wellman put his foot down and told Cowan what was really on his mind.  Wellman touched on his exploits as a pursuit pilot in WWI in France, that he blasted ranks of infantry, both German and French, and that he and his pilots were not popular with the infantry and there was lots of resentment between the groundpounders and the flyboys.  After Wellman's furious rant, Cowan got a little intimidated and he left the house, frightened. 

Next thing, here comes Cowan back to the Wellman front door, much recovered from the earlier encounter, and bearing a letter in his hand for Director Wellman.  Not knowing whether to read it or tear it up, Wellman asked who had sent the letter.  Cowan replied that the letter was from Ernie Pyle.  Wellman had knowledge of Ernie Pyle, of course, but had never read anything written by him.  Knowing that Ernie dealt with the infantry in his writings and knowing how he felt about the infantry after serving as a fighter pilot,  he looked at Cowan, and slammed the door in his face--again.

But the irrepressible Cowan would not be deterred.  A few days later, he was knocking on Wellman's door again.  This time he had gifts in hand for each one of Wellman's children.  This was a remarkable feat considering that there were five of them.  After openng the door only to be confronted yet again with Cowan cum gifts, Wellman immediately slammed the door in Cowan's face, yet one more time.  As Wellman said it, he slammed the door so hard the entire house reverberated and shuddered, and Cowan dropped several of the gifts he was carrying. With this kind of reception, one might think that Cowan would get the message and try for another director.  Not Cowan, he was just getting started.  Time to shift gears.

Referring to Cowan as a "persistent bastard", Wellman discussed the next step Cowan would take to enlist the services of Wellman the Director.  That evening, after the last door-slamming incident, Wellman was at home and the phone rang.  It was a long distance call from Albuquerque--none other than Ernie Pyle himself. Ernie had arrived home from the D-day front right after the liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944. 

It was the change which made the difference for Wellman.  Ernie was on the phone, talking, and Wellman listened.  Ernie explained that Cowan had informed him of the previous interesting experiences which had taken place at Wellman's home, and that he (Wellman) had refused point blank to even discuss the story.  Ernie invited Wellman to come for a visit to his home in Albuquerque, saying that he wanted a chance to tell the story of the film in an effort to make Wellman realize the need for this picture and "what it would mean to the thousands of kids that were fighting for his and my country".  This is the only statement anywhere which relates to Ernie's feelings about the film and its importance to the combat soldier.  Ernie was pushing for the film just as strongly as Cowan, but for very different reasons.

ALBUQUERQUE

Two days after that phone call, Wellman caught a plane to Albuquerque and Ernie met him at the airport.  They climbed into Ernie's "old Chevy" and drove to a nearby suburb full of FHA houses, all alike in style, and pulled into the driveway of Ernie's house which he had just painted himself.  Wellman was to stay two nights and two days at Ernie's, and after that time passed, Wellman was committred to the project.  What made the difference, and what clinched the deal for Wellman, was what happened when the he and Ernie went to a "comfy little home-cooked dinner-style cafe".  While eating, Wellman did most of the talking for a change.  But he noticed that nearby at another table sat two G.I.'s, also eating their meal.  These men recognized Ernie, it was obvious to Wellman, but they were too polite to interrupt Ernie at his dinner.  They left before he and Ernie did, and Wellman noticed that they glanced at Ernie one more time as they exited the cafe through the door, sharing a few words between themselves.   Wellman made a note of their expression as they looked at Ernie, and there was something there which Wellman said he would never forget. 

Both Ernie and he got up to leave, and as they walked out of the cafe, they noticed that these two G.I.'s were still around; but they had passed the word and about a dozen more G.I.'s had gathered in a little group.  This group was silent and unmoving, just watching Ernie and Wellman exit the cafe.  They were waiting and hoping that Ernie would notice them.  Ernie being Ernie, of course he did, and Wellman respectfully kept his distance as Ernie walked over to talk with them.  Some of these men carried copies of Ernie's book Here Is Your War or his newest one, Brave Men.  Wellman could tell that they wanted Ernie to autograph these books.  Ernie shook hands with each man, had a little talk with each one, and he wrote a little something in their books. 

As he and Ernie drove away from the cafe scene, Wellman looked back at the little group of G.I.'s.  One was reading his inscription Ernie had just written, and as Wellman tells it, when he finished, the whole group burst into roaring laughter.  But Wellman could not hear that laughter from the retreating car, but he knew it was there from the way everyone was acting.  

This is what made the difference to Wellman.   Always taking notice of little things like gestures and expressions as being signs of deeper meaning, Wellman had much on his plate to think about.  That Ernie was connected in a very special way to the G.I. meant a great deal to Wellman.  Ernie was the real deal, and that was all Wellman needed to know.  

The next afternoon, Cowan showed up, breezed into Ernie's house like he owned the place.  There Ernie engaged in a long talk about his experiences in the war.  With Cowan and Wellman as audience, Ernie began to discuss all his experiences in North Africa, Italy and France.  Ernie reviewed the activities of D-Day, the medics, the engineers, the artillery guys, dive bombers and the ranks of infantry.  After Ernie's rhapsodizing, Wellman began to really feel at home with the idea of directing the film.

FILMING BEGINS 

Three weeks later, Ernie was in Hollywood, on the set of the new film, to polish the new script. Most likely at Ernie's suggestion and Wellman' insistence, Cowan ageed to involve many of Ernie's war correspondence and journalism buddies in the production.  Hal Boyle and Paige Cavanaugh had helpful roles as research technicians.  Nine active War Correspondents were there, and they appeared as themselves in the film. Others just showed up from time to time to pay their respects to the production.  So it was that many of these men appear in Ned Scott's photographs even though they were not credited cast members or technically, crew members.  Their identities are difficult using just the photographs as a base of information, but where this is clear, I have made note of their names.  

Director Wellman gathered the combat veterans together for a speech before formal filming got underway.  "Fellas, there's a couple of things to clear up, and a few to explain. I know you all have heard how I got into this, because of one man, Ernie Pyle.  I think as much of him as you do, and it was through him that I got the great desire to make G.I. Joe.  Not just a picture, but something that you, Ernie, and I will be proud of. That's a big expensive job, and that's why you are here, that's why the actors have been training with you, so they will look like you, handle themselves the way you do.  That's also why a lot of you fellas will be playing scenes, speaking lines.  I want to make this the goddamnedest most honest picture that has ever been made about the doughfoot." 

And the last, really cool point about this film: Wellman's wife, Dorothy, herself the mother of five children, played the role of Nurse Lt. "Red" Murphy who "marries" Pvt. "Wingless" Murphy during the course of the plot.  Director Wellman had given his all for this production, and one can say, even his wife. 

TECHNICAL NOTES ON PHOTOGRAPHS

Mr. Chester Nowlen, son of Cpl. Pappy Nowlen

Ned Scott was equipped with a variety of cameras.  For this film, he used his Ansco 8 x 10 view camera for all the off set shots and portraits.  For the action shots on set, he used smaller format cameras.  Many of the images here are therefore products of smaller cameras.  This does not diminish their impact, however.

The cover photograph atop this page fits that description.  It was taken at the Iverson Movie Ranch which is located in the high desert of Southern California.  By contrast, the image to the left, showing Corporal Chester (Pappy) Nowlen leering at Axis Sally, is an off-set, posed scene taken by the 8 x 10.  Pappy's son, Chet Nowlen, kindly provided the cover image (for use here) which he used in his blog about his father. 

Portraits

Shelley Mitchell, who plays "Axis Sally", Nazi propagandist. Shelley was picked for the role because she had a seductive, bedroom voice.

Shelley Mitchell

Pvt. Fred Ross, combat veteran with the 18th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division

Pvt. Fred Ross

Yolanda Lacca, the Italian girl, became the love interest for Wally Cassell's character, Pvt. Dondaro, in a Southern Italian town after it was freed by the Allies.

Yolanda Lacca

Ernie Pyle Photographs

Ernie Pyle was on the set of The Story G.I. Joe during the early phases of movie production.  His chief role was polishing the script already created prior to his arrival, and in this effort, he participated with a number of other parties who also appeared on the set.  Among them were his old friends from the journalism business, writers Page Cavanaugh and Lee Miller.  When the script was finally ready, Director William Wellman pronounced it  a "hooting script" and filming got underway.  While this process was ongoing, Ned Scott sought opportunities to use his cameras to document the process.  These proved fruitful, and a number of images emerged which demonstrate the participation of other professionals in the film's creation, none of whom were cast members.  So it was that Ernie Pyle, himself a very photographed and recognizable person, wound up in a large group of images which have little to do with actual filming of the movie.   Some of these, as will be seen, carry a whisp of foreboding without intending to be so.  Ned Scott was always searching for the best form to convey meaning, and things just turned out that way.  

According to Lee Miller,  Ernie habitually went two or three days without shaving.  He could often be seen with a visible stubble, as seen here.  Portrait from the set of The Story of G.I. Joe. According to Lee Miller,  Ernie habitually went two or three days without shaving.  He could often be seen with a visible stubble, as seen here.  Portrait from the set of The Story of G.I. Joe. Ernie Pyle poses for Ned Scott under the bas-relief statue of the Virgin Mary.  Nothing was suggested by Ned Scott when he posed Ernie for this image, just the form complemented the man.  Though Ernie looks larger here, he only weighed in at 110 pounds. While working on the movie set, Ned Scott could always be found chewing on a match stick, an Ohio Bue Tip match stick to be precise.  And when he was not chewing on a stick, he was lighitng up and enjoying one of his Kent cigarettes.  Ernie Pyle and Burgess Meredith decided to imitate Ned Scott with synchronous poses for this photograph.  It was a light moment, one of many, and it speaks to the sense of comradery these men all felt toward one another on the set of Story of G.I. Joe. Pausing for a moment's reflection, Ernie Pyle, author of Here Is Your War and Burgess Meredith, star of the upcoming movie Story of G.I. Joe share thoughts while on the movie set.
Lee Miller extends a courtesy to Ernie Pyle, lighting his cigarrette while both men take a monent's pause while on the movie set of Story of G.I. Joe.  Dressed in their War Correspondent's uniforms, both men assisted in the making of the film by polishing the script.  And the presence of Ernie Pyle energized the combat war veterans who participated in the film as cast members.  Both men were very good friends having been in the news business together for many years.  There is an ease, an intimacy shown here between these two which only the ritual of lighting a cigarrette can properly convey. Burgess Meredith, star of Story of G.I. Joe, walks the movie set with Ernie Pyle who is dressed in his AWC (American War Correspondent) uniform, discussing the upcoming filming of the movie. Burgess Meredith discusses Ernie Pyle's new book Here Is Your War with Ernie Pyle on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  Meredith had been furloughed from active duty as a captain in the U. S. Army by the War Department, and here he is wearing his regulation uniform with captain's rank insignia.  Meredith plays the role of Ernie Pyle in the movie. Ernie Pyle and one of the soldiers relax between filming of the movie.  Surrounding Ernie are authentic weapons and battle gear from the film production. Ernie Pyle takes a break on the bombed out set of the movie Story of G. I. Joe.  Leaning against metal stack, Ernie sizes up the situation while dressed in his War Correspondent's uniform. Ernie Pyle talks with the children who were visiting the set of Story of G.I. Joe.  These were the children of Tom Treanor, a distinguished war correspondent, who was Ernie's contemporary and friend in the European theater of the war.  The children's names are Tommy, 11, John, 9 and Cordelia, 6.  Mrs. Tom Treanor, the correspondent's widow, looks on with satisfaction and approval.  Tom Treanor lost his life covering the conflict.
One of Ernie's fellow War Correspondents assigned to the film production of The Story of G. I. Joe teases Ernie about his regulation haircut and knit hat which Ernie always wore at the front. Burgess Meredith who played the role of Ernie in the film, looks on with approval.  On the set during filming, Meredith wore this hat or one identical to it for authenticity. Ernie chats with Morrie Riskind on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  Riskind, himself a Pulitzer Prize winner and a distinguished playwright, wound up of the set of The Story of G.I. Joe to assist in polishing the script for Director William Wellman and Independent film producer Lester Cowan. Ernie Pyle interviews Pvt. Kenneth Fowler of the 34th Infantry Division, a combat veteran of the North African and Sicilian campaigns of 1942-43.  Ernie Pyle performed many similar interviews while serving as a U.S. War Correspondent during his tour of duty with the U.S. Army.  These interviews formed the basis of his many news dispatches sent to outlets back in the United States.  And these together with his own stories of his many weeks at the front create the core of his famous book , Here Is Your War, on which the film The Story of G.I. Joe is based. Ernie Pyle poses with Corporal James Slayton, one of the most decorated G.I.'s of World War II.  At Camp Baldwin, the headquarters for the infantry company which appeared in The Story of G.I. Joe, the track which circumnavigated the camp was renamed Pyle Road in Ernie's honor.  With arms outstretched , a  bas-relief statue of the Virgin Mary gathers protectively behind Ernie Pyle as he poses on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  Ned Scott was making a hopeful statement with this prosaic pose.  Keep Ernie Safe.  In October and November of 1944 when this photograph was taken, no one could have predicted the tragic fate which would befall Ernie has he ventured to the Pacific Theater in 1945 on non-combatant duty as a U.S. War Correspondent. Lee G. Miller, former editor of the Washington Daily News and Ernie Pyle relax on the set of "The Story of G.I. Joe" as they observe filming in progress.  Lee Miller and Ernie had been friends for many years in the news business.  Both Miller and Paige Cavanaugh, another of Ernie's close news buddies joined Ernie on the set of the film as paid consultants.  Producer Lester Cowan no doubt agreed to this idea which most  likely emerged in the many discussions surrounding the final tweaking of the movie script.
Ernie Pyle relaxes with Special Forces Army officers (Rangers), combat veterans of the D-Day Campaign, on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe. Ernie Pyle, here wearing his War Correspondent's uniform, relaxes with actor Burgess Meredith on the film set of "The Story of G.I. Joe."  In the film Meredith plays the role of Ernie Pyle, decorated war correspondent, during the Allies drive to Rome after landing on the boot of the Italian Penninsula in WWII.  Ernie stayed about three weeks on set while the film was in porduction, then he shipped out to the West Pacific where he ulitmately lost his life at the hands of a Japanese sniper.  Director William Wellman's epic war drama "The Story of G.I. Joe", 1945.

Burgess Meredith Portrays Ernie Pyle in The Story of G.I. Joe

One can get a sense of the role of the U.S. Correspondent in combat by reviewing these photographs of Burgess Meredith as he plays the role of Ernie Pyle in The Story of G.I. Joe. A good deal of the correspondent's daily life revolved around those activites of the front line combat soldiers.  The rest of the time the correspondent was busy with rear eschelon work such as writing up articles for news outlets and visiting places like hospital installations, themselves temporary to varying degrees based on quality of function.  Then to ensure that their dispatches were sent out successfully, correspondents would travel to the nearest Signal Corps emplacement, or, failing that, they would track down a Corpsman on their own while behind the lines.  On rare occasions, people like Erie Pyle would find themselves at lunch with Army brass, in a salvaged hotel in a captured city like Bizerte, talking things over.  It was at those times that Ernie would wallow in the luxury of a hot shower, and a bed with a mattress. 

By far, however, most of his time was spent with the soldier in the soldier's melieu at or near the front.  The essence of these photographs from The Story of G.I. Joe demonstrates that the correspondent did not lead a pampered life at the front, and certainly that was true of Ernie Pyle.  Often these men shared the privations of their combat-ready front line comrades, dodging bombs and artillery shells shot from enemy positions miles away and dropped from enemy aircraft charging at their positions overhead.  Any hole or trench was a haven.  Much time was spent in these positions until enemy action faded.  Undaunted, soldiers (and Ernie with them) would carry on with dining, smoking, and reading mail if there was enough light. 

Burgess Meredith, as Ernie Pyle, enjoys a bite of C rations on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  Ernie often heated his rations by using gasoline.  He would dig a little hole in the dirt or sand, place some gas into the hole, cover it again with sand, and light it.  The gas would burn slowly enough for him to heat a can of food or a cup of coffee.  Ernie preferred the British COMPO rations to the U.S. Army C rations because there was more variety.  Many G.I.'s, right after landing in Oran (where Ernie came ashore during Operation Torch) would give away portions of their C rations to ragged Arab children who followed the G.I.'s around relentlessly. There's nothing like a cigarette to comfort the battle weary war correspondent in The Story of G.I. Joe.  Burgess Meredith as Ernie Pyle gets ready to light up during a tough day at the front.  No cigarettes were allowed at night due to the ever vigilant enemy artillery spotters who would quickly zone in on such a target.  According to Lee Miller in his 1946 book, An Ernie Pyle Album, Ernie always wore a woven hat identical to this one out in the field. Camp dogs were everything to the combat soldier at the front.  Here Burgess Meredith plays Ernie Pyle in The Story of G.I. Joe holding the camp's mascot dog during a rainy and cold moment at the front.  Burgess Meredith was already serving in the U.S. Army on active duty as a Captain when Lester Cowan approached him to take the role of Ernie Pyle.  The Army released Meredith on an honorable discharge so he could take the role, but that occurred only after presidential adviser Harry Hopkins greased the way and George C. Marshall approved the discharge personally. U.S. War Correspondents play themselves as news arrives that Ernie Pyle had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism from U.S. War Correspondents play themselves in a reenactment of receiving news that Ernie Pyle had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism  in The Story of G.I. Joe.
U.S. War Correspondents play themselves as they celebrate the news that Ernie Pyle had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism from The Story of G.I. Joe. Sharing a cigarette with his Army buddies, Burgess Meredith as Ernie Pyle underscores the fact that he shared the privations of his regular soldiers while they were hunkering down in an improvised shelter, safe from enemy action, during inclement weather.Burgess Meredith portrays a relaxed Ernie Pyle, cigar in hand, somewhere on the front lines in Northern Africa during Operation Torch in Director William Wellman's biographical wartime drama, "The Story of G.I. Joe", 1945.

Lester Cowan and Notables

Independent film producer Lester Cowan was the driving force behind the movie The Story of G.I. Joe. As a matter of course, film producers hardly ever show up in still photographs in the film industry. However, in The Story of G.I. Joe, this proved to be the exception. Ned Scott worked for Lester Cowan from 1942-44 on two other films besides Story of G.I. Joe.  These films were Commandoes Strike At Dawn (1942) and Tomorrow The World (1944).  Research into these films has not, so far, produced any images in which Lester Cowan can be seen.  One can conclude from this fact that it was not for self-gratification that Cowan chose to be photographed so many times.  Once again it becomes apparent that it was the magnetic presence of Ernie Pyle which created such a mood around the movie set on the Selznick lot in Culver City and the Iverson Movie Ranch in the California high desert.  Having combat veterans present and busy in acting roles was no doubt a strong influence as well. 

Bob Hope, Ernie Pyle and a lady member of the British Army Reserve Corps  share a few thoughts on the set of The Story of G.I.  Joe.  Bob Hope played himself in his role as a radio voice for the film. Cinematographer Russel Metty on the left, poses with associate producer David Hall and composer Ann Ronell as they flank the 35mm camera. George Lait, U.S. War Correspondent with the International News Service, chats with officers on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe while the film crew in the background prepares for a scene.  George Lait was present on the set along with eight other correspondents at the suggestion of Ernie Pyle.  These men all played themselves in various scenes in the film.  Next to Lait  are combat veterans Col. J.G. McGammon and Lt. Col. Henry.  Both officers served with distinction under General Joe Stillwell on the CBI front (China-Burma-India). Lester Cowan, seated, is flanked on the left by Captain Burgess Meredith, recently furloughed from active duty by the War Department for his role in The Story of G.I. Joe, and Ernie Pyle, U.S. War Correspondent from Scripps-Howard News Service.  In the film, Meredith played the the role of Ernie Pyle. Ned Scott took this photograph in an office at Selznick International Studios in Culver City, California. Lester Cowan reviews the script for The Story of G.I. Joe while  Lt. Peter Dietrichson of the Norwegian Merchant Marine Service looks on.  Lt. Dietrichson was recently signed to appear in a new film starring Greta Garbo. Lester Cowan on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe enjoying a moment with combat veterans of the 34th Infantry Division.  An Army officer and various soldiers admire the camp mascot dog, a regular feature of camp life at the front in Northern Africa and Italy.
Lee Miller, seated, and Paige Cavanaugh, longtime friends of Ernie Pyle from the earlier days in news service, review and discuss the script for The Story of G.I. Joe.  Both had been hired by Lester Cowan as consultants.  They helped tune the script with Ernie Pyle.  A portrait of Ernie looms behind them as they work. Make-up artist  Bud Westmore treats a member of the British Army Reserve to a brush-up on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe Solidarity against Nazi oppression is the theme of this image from The Story of G.I. Joe.  This film was one more thing Ernie Pyle could do for his boys, something which would immortalize the spirit of the regular U.S. Army soldier.  Between the two army privates, Ross and Jennings, march film Director William Wellman and Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler.  Photographer Ned Scott envisioned this image as a metaphor for the film itself and a powerful statement of Ernie Pyle's purpose.

The Cadet Nurse Corps

Created by the Bolton Act of July 1, 1943, the Cadet Nurse Program was designed to strengthen the pool of nurses available for duty with the U.S. Army. It was obvious to all that by that time in World War II, with the U.S. operating a two front war in far flung regions of the globe, the need for qualified nurses was heightened to a critical level. This law helped to solve the nurse shortage problem.

The law focused on existing nursing schools around the nation. There were 1300 accredited nursing schools operating at that time. 1125 of these schools participated in this program. Students in these schools received accelerated training under the program, and while still students, they were required to serve in military and civilian communities on the home front as nurse substitutes for the duration of the war. In return, qualified nurse cadets in this program received subsidized school tuition, associated expenses, and a shortened time period for graduation. Graduating nurses were released immediately for military service overseas, thus replenishing the pool of qualified nurses in military service.

On the set of The Story of G.I. Joe, Nurse Cadet Beulah Tyler represented the core importance of this program to the success of fighting units of the U.S. Army. While it's true that at the editing stage of the film the Cadet Nurse footage was cropped, the influence of Beulah Tyler on all parties associated with the production was inspiring and enriching. Ned Scott was sensitive to these emotional undercurrents, and he took every opportunity to captuse that aspect with his cameras. It is for this reason that Beulah is seen in many different settings, both alone and with others. It was important to him to highlight the fact that she modeled for the Cadet Nurse recruitment poster, a fact which is evident in his images.

Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler reviews Ernie Pyle's book Here Is Your War with independent film Producer Lester Cowan on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  This office was located at Selznick Internatinal Studios in Culver City, California. Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler gets an earful from Burgess Meredith who plays the role of Ernie Pyle in The Story of G.I. Joe.  Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler poses with the Cadet Nurse recruitment poster in The Story of G.I. Joe.  If all these faces seem the same, there's a reason: Beulah Tyler modeled for the poster. A complete glimpse of the Cadet Nurse Corps recruitment poster is on display in this portrait of Cadet Beulah Tyler in The Story of G.I. Joe. Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler poses for Ned Scott in her official Corps uniform with regulaton patch in The Story of G.I. Joe. Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler shares a bite with combat veterans from the 34th Division on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  From left to right are Cpl. Chester (Pappy) Nowlen, Pvt. Charles Rozell and Pvt. Fred Ross.  Because special dispensation was provided to these combat vets for their participation in the film, the War Department allowed them to grow beards if they wished.  During actual combat in North Africa, that was the case, anyway.  Director Wellman cheered this fact because, as he put it, I want to make this the goddamndedest most honest picture that has ever been made about the doughfoot.
Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler poses with Nurse Lieutenant Red Murphy on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  Red Murphy was played by Director William Wellman's wife, Dorothy (Dottie) Coonan. Cadet Nurse Beulah Tyler loosens up with combat veterans of the First Division on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe.  From left to right are seated Corporal Chester (Pappy)  Nowlen, Pvt. Fred Ross , Sgt. Charles Rozell, Pvt. Jim Cosso and Nurse Lt. Red Murphy.

Artist Sketches

U.S War Correspondents who were present on the set of The Story of G.I. Joe offered themselves as models for sketch artists on a patio, most likely on the grounds of the Selznick International Studios in Culver City, California. The finished sketches were sent to the movie's debut in Indianapolis, Indiana which took place on July 6, 1944. Here they were auctioned. All proceeds went to the Ernie Pyle Fund for Journalism Scholarships at the University of Indiana, Pyle's Alma Mater.

Unknown artist sketches George Lait of International News Service. Patio scene in which artists create sketches of U. S. War Correspondents who were currently working in active combat zones. Unknown artist sketches Jack Foisie of Stars and Stripes. John Vickery sketches Hal Boyle of the Associated Press.

G.I. Joe movie scenes

Capt. Walker (stand in for Capt. Waskow) demands at the point of his machine gun that the supply officer issue turkey for Christmas dinner as Ernie Pyle (played by Burgess Meredith) looks on. Scene from The Story of G.I. Joe. Ernie Pyle (played by Burgess Meredith) jokes with officers and men in a light moment at one of the camps at the front.  Ernie Pyle had an infectious sense of humor. Scene from Lester Cowan's authentic wartime drama 'The Story of G.I. Joe.' 1945 An army platoon takes cover behind an abandoned 75mm artillery piece in the movie Story of G.I. Joe.  It is no accident that these men arrange themselves just this way to avoid sniper fire from emplaced enemy soldiers in the area.Robert Mitchum in his role as Capt. Henry Waskow prepares to throw a hand grenade at enemy positions in the film Story of G.I. Joe.  This photograph is the talisman image of the film and it is found today in posters, DVD covers and publication headers for the film.
Cpl. Chester (Pappy) Nowlen and Sgt. Fred Sprague share a light moment as combatants on the set of Story of G.I. Joe.  Pappy has just opened a Christmas present sent from the folks back home, and both men get a chuckle out of the absurdity of such a gift.  According to Ernie Pyle's book Here Is Your War, such gifts were commonplace.  But often, gifts were just right: canned food specialties, medicines, cigarettes, etc.   Canned pineapple was a favorite for the troops. In this scene for the film Story of G.I. Joe, army cooks flanked by armed soldiers serve hot food to refugees whose homes were destroyed in a recent battle.  One of the major objectives of Director William Wellman was to convey battlefield authenticity, complete with scenes such as these which occurred in real life in Southern Italy and Northern Africa on a regular basis as the Allies advanced in their quest to oust the Germans and Italians.  Burgess Meredith's character Ernie Pyle takes the chance to talk to soldiers as they rest briefly between combat duties at the Tunisian front, from The Story of G.I. Joe Combat at the front was spartan conditions, even brutal when cold weather hit.  Burgess Meredith's character Ernie Pyle endures hardships at the front with his soldiers, from the Story of G.I. Joe.  At the front, troops took advantage of any feature of the terrain to shelter themselves both from weather and from enemy aircraft and artillery action.
Director William Wellman, at left of camera, directs a rehearsal of a scene for Ernie Pyle's "Story of G.I. Joe" involving actual "GI's" whom the U.S. Army lent for important battle scenes in Lester Cowan's production.  Second assitant director, Jimmy Petch, stands in the foreground with a very determined expression.  Director William Wellman's authentic wartime drama, "The Story of G.I. Joe", 1945. Christmas dinner at the front in The Story of G.I. Joe.  Food was always a big issue, and anything fresh was rare.  When such a meal was presented, G.I.'s were enthusiastic eaters.  Burgess Meredith plays Ernie Pyle who shares the soldier's meals at the front. The Story of G.I. Joe.  Food was always a big issue, and anything fresh was rare.  When such a meal was presented, G.I.'s were enthusiastic eaters.  Burgess Meredith plays Ernie Pyle who shares the soldier's meals at the front. Pvt Archie Connell, combat veteran with the 18th Infantry Regiment,  the 34th Infantry Division plays himself in The Story of G.I. Joe After a successful forward surge by the company at the front, Burgess Meredith as Ernie Pyle takes a moment to relax in the shelled remains of a building in a small Italian town.  Meredith is actually sitting in the back seat of a car, the only part of the car still remaining after the attack. Scene from The Story of G.I. Joe. An Army private, combat veteran with the 34th Infantry Division, relaxes in the crotch of a shelled masonry wall with a cigar after a successful attack at the front.  Scene from The Story of G.I. Joe.
Fellow soldiers congratulate Wingless Murphy and Nurse Lt. Red Murphy on their wedding at the front.  Scene from The Story of G.I. Joe. Exhaustion dogged the soldiers on front line campaigns.  Supplies like food and fresh water were scarce at times, and on occasion, marching went on for days with heavy loads.  Here Burgess Meredith as Ernie Pyle confers with a combat sergeant in front of a map of the Kasserine Pass, Tunisia. Scene from The Story of G.I. Joe. A combat private, veteran of the North African and Sicilian Campaigns,  patiently awaits developments at the front, rifle at the ready, always on the lookout for snipers.   Scene from The Story of G.I. Joe. Wally Cassell as Pvt. Dondaro romances Yolanda Lacca, the Italian Girl in The Story of G.I. Joe.Robert Mitchum as Capt. Walker (stand-in for Capt. Waskow) confers with his sergeant while takng cover. Pvt.  Billy Benedict as himself, Captain Walker (Robert Mitchum) and Ernie Pyle (Burgess Meredith) crowd into a protective position, with Thompson machine guns at the ready, while they surveil the enemy activities a short distance away. Robert Mitchum plays the much respected Lieutenant Walker, here standing at the ready with his 50 cal Thompson machine gun. Lt. Walker is killed in action during the battle for  Sicily in 1942. Director William Wellman"s "The Story of G.I. Joe", 1945. Burgess Meredith, playing the role of war corresondent Ernie Pyle, shares a sheltered moment with Pvt. Archie Ross (with rifle) during a lull in the combat action.  Behind these soldiers is the small Italian village which the allies have just taken back from the Germans as they advance toward Rome in Director William Wellman's realistic wartime drama, "The Story of G.I. Joe", 1945. tag Sgt. Warniki, played by Freddy Steele, emerges from a domicile in a captured town in Italy with a phonograph, an item he has been looking for ever since his stateside wife sent him a recording with his toddler son's voice.  Scene from Director William Wellman's wartime authentic wartime drama, "The Story of G.I. Joe", 1945.

Hangmen Also Die

Cinematographer James Wong Howe, Director Fritz Lang and actor H.H. Twardowski discussing the shooting script.

Cinematographer James Wong Howe, Director Fritz Lang
and actor H.H. Twardowski discussing the shooting script.

Hangmen Also Die is the only Fritz Lang film which Ned Scott photographed. From the large volume of prints he saved for his personal collection, one gets the impression that he regarded the film and his own contribution to it with great respect. Ned Scott rarely saved images which depicted the film director or the cinematographer, and this is one of those rarities. The female lead, Anna Lee, appears with regularity in his collection, and the variety of her character poses creates a certain appreciation for her acting ability. It was often said that as a photographer Ned Scott understood light and as a portraitist, he understood women. Those traits are well demonstrated in this collection from Hangmen Also Die.

Character Portraits Production Shots Movie Scenes

Character Portraits

H.H. Twardowski as Reinhold Heydrich, the Hangman
H.H. Twardowski as Reinhold Heydrich, the Hangman H.H. Twardowski as Reinhold Heydrich, the Hangman Hans Heinrich von Twardowski scowls as he portrays Reinhold Heidrich, alias the 'Hangman', in Fritz Lang's 'Hangmen Also Die', 1943 H.H. Twardowski as Reinhold Heydrich, the Hangman
Brian Donlevy and Anna Lee
Brian Donlevy and Anna Lee Brian Donlevy and Anna Lee Brian Donlevy and Anna Lee H.H. Twardowski as Reinhold Heydrich, the Hangman H.H. Twardowski as Reinhold Heydrich, the Hangman
Brain Donlevy and Anna Lee in their title roles as Dr. Svoboda and Mesha Novotny in Fritz Lang's "Hangmen Also Die", 1943 Brain Donlevy as Dr. Svoboda and Anna Lee as Masha Novotny sequester themselves against the threat of searching Nazi agents in Hangmen Also Die, 1943. A tense moment as two characters from Fritz Lang's 'Hangmen Also Die' listen for any news broadcast about the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhold Heidrich and the resulting actions taken by occupying Nazi forces.  Actors Anna Lee and Brian Donlevy play Masha Novotny and Dr. Svoboda, both key role players in the ensuing action as the plot of this suspenseful WWII drama unfolds. Brian Donlevy and Anna Lee, key actors in Arnold Pressburger's wartime drama, "Hangmen Also Die", 1943.  Donlevy plays the role of Dr. Franticek Svoboda, a medical doctor in good standing in Prague and Anna Lee plays the role of Masha Novotny, daughter of Professor Novotny.  It is revealed during the film that the Professor and the Doctor are key men of the Czeck resistance during the Nazi occupation of WWII.  Director Fritz Lang's film noir drama, "Hangmen Also Die", 1943.
Brian Donlevy
Brian Donlevy photo: A menacing assassin, Karel Vanek here played by Brian Donlevy, attempts to elude the clutches of Nazi gestapo agents and SS storm troopers after he kills the Reich Protector Reinhard Heidrich in Prague.  Fritz Lang's "Hangmen Also Die", 1943 Brian Donlevy
Walter Brennan and Anna Lee
Walter Brennan and Anna Lee Walter Brennan and Anna Lee Walter Brennan and Anna Lee
Gene Lockhart (with lapel flower) and Alexander Granach
Gene Lockhart (with lapel flower) and Alexander Granach Gene Lockhart (with lapel flower) and Alexander Granach Gene Lockhart (with lapel flower) and Alexander Granach Gene Lockhart (with lapel flower) and Alexander Granach Gene Lockhart (with lapel flower) and Alexander Granach Gene Lockhart
Emil the Brewer who is the hated Nazi collaborator, played by Gene Lockhart, meets his end in Fritz Lang's 'Hangmen Also Die', 1943 Emil the Brewer who is the hated Nazi collaborator, played by Gene Lockhart, meets his end in Fritz Lang's 'Hangmen Also Die', 1943 Gene Lockhart, as the Nazi collaborator Emil the brewer, feels the heat as pressure mounts to elimiante him as a threat to the Czech resistance in 'Hangmen Also Die', 1943

Portrait Studies

Anne Lee
Anne Lee Anne Lee Anne Lee Anne Lee Anne Lee Anne Lee Anna Lee Images
Anna Lee Images Anna Lee arches luxuriously in a portrait session during the period when she was starring in Fritz Lang's Hangmen Also Die, 1943 Anna Lee Images Anna Lee Images Anna Lee Images Anna Lee Images Anna Lee Images
Anna Lee Images Anne Lee Anne Lee Anne Lee A portrait of Anna Lee as Masha Novotny, the daoughter of the renowned Professor Novotny in Director Fritz Lang's film noir war drama, "Hangmen Also Die", 1943.

Movie Scenes

Hangmen Also Die movie scenes

Assassin Karel Vanek (Brian Donlevy) eludes angry Nazis who hunt for him relentlessly following the assassination of Reich-Protector Reinhard Heydrich. Nazi officers confront Walter Brennan who plays Professor Novotny, a noted historian and revolutionary figure who is taken into custody along with many other hostages in an effort to force the surrender of Karel Vanek (Brian Donlevy), the wanted assassin of Reich-Protector Reinhard Heydrich. This scene takes place in the Professor's own parlor with his family and servants standing as witnesses.  Director Fritz Lang's wartime film noir drama, "Hangmen Also Die", 1943. Anna Lee plays Masha Novotny in a moment of abject terror as the Nazis arrest her father, Professor Novotny (Walter Brennan) for questioning after the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhold Heidrich in Fritz Lang's tense wartime drama 'Hangmen Also Die', 1943 Nazi Gestapo troops scour the streets of Prague hunting for the assassin of Reich Protector Reinhard Heidrich.  Anna Lee as Masha Novotny and market proprietor Margaret Burt are transfixed with fear when Lane Bradford as the Gestapo officer directs troops in search efforts.  Fritz Lang's Hangmen Also Die, 1943  One of the very last scenes in the 1943 Pressburger film, Hangmen Also Die", shows Professor Novotny, an academic historian, standing in line with other Czech hostages awaiting his execution by occupying Gestapo agents in Prague.  Following the assasination of Reinhard Heydrich, male hostages were rounded up at random from the city.  They were placed in holding rooms, 40 men to a room.  At various intervals, three from each room were selected for execution.  This grim process went on until the assasin was caught by the Gastapo.  Director Fritz Lang's grim wartime drama, "Hangmen Also Die", 1943 Members of the Czech underground resistance meet to discuss strategy after the assasination of Reinhard Heidrich.  During the meeting, an inspiring poem is read  to the group.  This poem becomes the rallying cry for the resistance fighters, and it is widely known as the "No Surrender" motto.  Seated is historian Porfessor Novotny, played by Walter Brennan.  Director Fritz Lang's film noir wartime drama, "Hangmen Also Die", 1943. tag tag tag tag .Busted! Emil the Bewer, played by Gene Lockhart (hatless with buttonniere)  finds himself in a dangerous position while surrounded by members of the Gastapo in the basement of one of his buildings in Prague.  Suspected by the Gestapo of the criminal act of assasination, Emil maintains that he is innocent.  It turns out, however, that the pile of coal hides the body of Gestapo Inspector Gruber who was recently murdered by Czech resistance fighters. Emil does not know  that he is the victim of a well-planned plot by Czeck resistance to discredit him. Director Fritz Lang's film noir wartime thriller "Hangmen Also Die", 1943. tag Anna Lee as Masha Novotny leafs through the rubble after Gestapo agents ransack her father's apartment, strewing all his personal effects on the floor.  Scene from Director Fritz Lang's film noir wartime drama "Hangmen Also Die", 1943. tag nna Lee is restrained in her horror and grief by Gestapo agent as she sees her father taken out to join others scheduled for execution.  Director Fritz Lang's film noir wartime drama "Hangmen Also Die", 1943. tag

Letter dated December 1938, sent from Kayenta, Arizona

Wednesday

Kayenta

Dearest--

I'm only writing because I know I'll catch hell when I get home—no--! But I'm so goddam tired & Ive been so cold & busy that I hardly have the energy to write. They're crazy—this outfit—up at 5 AM & back at 6PM—then I have to unload & load & have supper & a shower & by that time I'm dead. So glad I didn't bring my own equipment. Dust galore—wind--rain--snow--and more WIND. I'm fed up and want to get back home & to you. Think there is only about another day here & then we go to Tuba City & (….) & then I don't know what. Everything is going according to schedule—if there is any schedule! Ford seems happy with what has been shot so far so perhaps we will get back on time— maybe sooner! I doubt it though. Don't let my return alter your plans darling—think it would be swell if you got to Babs—and if you do—you should stay at least a week—if not longer. The change should do you the world of good altho it sure would be tough to come home & not find you. I shouldn't say that! The phone to Flagstaff has been out ever since we arrived but someone has been coming in nearly every day—am looking forward to wire from you about your plans. Love to you my darling—Jesus, my bed is hard and lonely—20 in one room—CCC camp—snoring galore! Goodnight my sweet I love you-

--Ned

< Back

Movie Spellbound

1945

Research to date indicates that Spellbound was the only Hitchcock film which Ned Scott photographed with his still cameras. The date was 1945.  Some of the most gripping images of Ingrid Bergman emerge from this effort.  During the course of studio filming, Bergman visited Ned Scott's home in La Canada for a shooting session, chiefly portraiture.  Different locations within Ned Scott's house were used for this session.  The proofs from this photo session were printed in 11 x 14 format and they were given to the producer David O. Selznick.  It is a phenomenon of our internet age that these proofs re-emerged for sale through the eBay forum.  These sales have been tracked and noted in the Archive.  Some of the proofs brought large sums of money.

Character Portraits

Character Portraits

Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman Ingrid Bergman Ingrid Bergman Ingrid Bergman Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman Ingrid Bergman Ingrid Bergman Ingrid Bergman Ingrid Bergman Ingrid Bergman

Rhonda Fleming

Rhonda Fleming Pictures Rhonda Fleming Pictures Rhonda Fleming Rhonda Fleming Pictures Rhonda Fleming Pictures

Stagecoach

In the history of American film, few movies stand out as more influential than Stagecoach. The film set the design for an entirely new genre, the Western drama. But perhaps just as important, the film established the rich career of three of Hollywood's most notable practitioners: John Ford as film director, John Wayne as actor and Ned Scott as a still photographer. Shown below is the most complete collection of still photographs from the movie along with original documents of interest which help flesh out the story of the movie's production. Foremost among these is a letter from Louise Platt, supporting actress in the role of the cavalry commander's wife, as she recounts the making of the film and her feelings about the fellow cast members and Director John Ford.

The majority of the photographs saved from the movie's production by Ned Scott bear captions pasted to the back of each print.  These captions were written and applied by Walter Wanger Productions staff in 1939.  The information they contain is reflective of the social mores of the time. Tags attached to each photograph quote these captions for authenticity. 

The New York Times Persimmon Hill Preview Persimmon Hill Magazine Walter Wanger Letter Letter from Kayenta, AZ Louise Platt Interview Stagecoach Movie Booklet 2002 Louise Platt Letter Misc Documents Character Portraits Movie Scenes

 

Monument Valley fromthe movie, Stagcoach

New York Times Published

ART/ARCHITECTURE; Eyes Wide Open to the Wide Open Spaces

In 1993, Norman Scott, then a real estate investor in Louisville, Ky., was leafing through his father’s old letters, looking for vintage airmail stamps to augment his son’s collection. Ned Scott, a Hollywood-based photographer who died of liver failure in 1964 at age 57, had been something of a mystery to Norman, who had never grasped his father’s place in the world of 30’s and 40’s photography. Then Norman read one of the letters, dated 1935. It referred to Ned’s photo session with Katharine Hepburn. Then he found a cache of negatives marked "Hepburn heads." Like all of Ned’s work, the Hepburn portraits had been filed in boxes, untouched since Ned abandoned Hollywood in 1948.

"I began to realize that my father’s work was more significant than I had ever imagined," Mr. Scott said. He established the Ned Scott Archive later that year. By then he had learned that Ned had shot the special stills for Paul Strand’s "Redes" ("The Wave") in the mid-30’s, as well as those for John Ford’s 1939 western melodrama "Stagecoach," the film generally recognized as the movie that put the western on the cinematic map, starring John Wayne as Ford’s archetypal hero.



Read more posted at The New York Times
 
From the magazine "Persimmon Hill". A highlight of the 2003 exhibit at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
Persimmon Hill Magazine Persimmon Hill Magazine
Article from the Spring of 1993 in the magazine "Persimmon Hill", a publication of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. An exhibit of John Ford's 1938 "Stagecoach", was the inaugural exhibit for the museum's Western Performers' Gallery.
Persimmon Hill magazine, Spring 2003 Persimmon Hill magazine, Spring 2003 Persimmon Hill magazine, Spring 2003 Persimmon Hill magazine, Spring 2003 Persimmon Hill magazine, Spring 2003

Walter Wanger Letter

A letter from producer, Walter Wanger, to UA Studios, discussing the Stagecoach movie booklet. Wanger endorses Ford's effort on the production.

 

Walter Wanger Productions Incorproated

1045 North Formosa Ave,

Los Angeles, California

 

Mr. Lynn Farol

United Artists Studios

729 Seventh Avenue

New York City February 9, 1939

 

Dear Lynn,

 

I think the booklet on "STAGECOACH" is interesting and attractive. It fails, however, to indicate the full measure of credit that is due John Ford for his part in the making of the picture.

I read the story--but after Ford had purchased it and brought it to me. Again, it was Ford who worked with Dudley Nichols in creating the fine script; and John Wayne as The Ringo Kid was also Ford's idea.

While I am proud to be the producer of "STAGECOACH", will you please to everything in your power to see that the picture is known as John Ford's achievement.

 

Sincerely,

Walter Wanger

Scan of Letter:

Letter from Walter Wanger, to UA Studios

Letter from Kayenta, AZ

Letter dated December 1938, from Kayenta, Arizona, to Gwladys Scott, 479 Mesa Rd. Santa Monica, California.

Readable copy of letter:

Date: Wednesday

Location: Kayenta, Arizona

Dearest--

I am writing only because if I don't, I'll catch hell when I get home--no--!--but I've been so goddamned tired and I've been so cold & busy that I've hardly had energy to write. They're crazy--this outfit--up at 5 A.M. and back at 6 P.M. then I have to unload & load & have super & a shower & by that time I'm dead. So glad I didn't bring my own equipment. Dust galore--wind--rain--snow--and more WIND. I'm fed up & want to get back home & to you. Think there is only about another day here & then we go to Tuba City & Cimarron & then I don't know what. Everything is going according to schedule--if there is any schedule! Ford seems happy with what has been shot so far so perhaps we will be back on time--maybe sooner! I doubt it though. Don't let my return alter your plans darling--think it would be swell if you got to Babs--and if you do--you should stay at least a week--if not longer. The change wouold do you a world of good altho it sure would be tough to come home and not find you. I shouldn't say that! The phone to Flagstaff has been out ever since we arrived but someone has been coming in nearly every day--am looking forward to wire from you about your plans. Love to you, my darling--Jesus! my bed is hard and lonely--20 are in one room--CCC camp--snoring galore--Good night, my sweet--I love you--Ned.

Transcript available here

 

Letter dated December 1938, sent from Kayenta, Arizona Letter dated December 1938, sent from Kayenta, Arizona Letter dated December 1938, sent from Kayenta, Arizona Letter dated December 1938, sent from Kayenta, Arizona

Stagecoach Movie Booklet

Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet
Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet
Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet Stagecoach movie booklet
Stagecoach movie booklet
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum interview with actress, Louise Platt, July 7, 2002.

Interview with actress, Louise Platt Interview with actress, Louise Platt Interview with actress, Louise Platt

TEXT of Stagecoach Movie Booklet:

Titled: That amazing STAGECOACH and some interesting facts about its history and the strange people who depended upon it...

Our country is great. Our pride in what it stands for is real. Our gratitude for what it has given us is unquestioned. If we stop to take inventory of the assets which have given us our our balance-sheet of dignity, freedom and respect of the world, we would be bound to highlights a thousand events in a glorious history. To compress it all into a single screenplay would be an impossibility.

Bearing this in mind, but without ever forgetting the whole pattern, Walter Wanger produced "Stagecoach". It is a single incident in the Westward progress of a people. Yet it is a symbol of our whole development.

"Stagecoach" presents a small group of people against the background of the panoramic West. They are a likely group of people, a representative group--yes, you could call them an ordinary, everyday group of people. Yet behind each of the them lurks his or her individual story. Ahead of each of them looms a personal future of much hope, but little certainty.

They are thrown together for a trip by Stagecoach. In forty-eight hours they will separate on paths as widely diverse as those which brought them together. Yet before the journey is over, some of them will have good reason for hate; two of them will have discovered love; there will be death; there will even be the birth of one new life.

Within the narrow confines of a Stagecoach, life goes on. And another brilliant page in history is written! Just as the production of "Stagecoach" is a glimpse on one romantic chapter in the growth of America, so these pages must serve as a glimpse into the artistry that has put that chapter on the screen.

THE STORY OF STAGECOACH

On April 10, 1937, Walter Wanger was reading the current number of Collier's. On page 18, there was a story by Ernest Haycox. Mr. Wanger's eyes wandered to the opening words. "This was one of those years in the Territory when Apache smoke signals spiraled up from the stony mountain summits..."

He read on: The Stagecoach from Tonto to Lordsburg was just about ready to leave. Its passengers were gathering for the long and hazardous journey. News had just been received that the murderous Geronimo and his Apaches were out to kill again.

There was nothing unusual about the small group of passengers--that is, nothing unusual unless you knew them, and knew them well. There was, for example, a girl named Dallas. To the naked eye she looked like nothing more or less than the dance-hall girl she was. There was Buck--the Stagecoach driver--blustering but a little afraid of what Geronimo might be having in mind. There was Hatfield, the gambler; there was Lucy Mallory, going to join her husband; there was Doc Boone being "poured" into the Stagecoach by the Temperance League; there was Curly Wilcox, going about the mysterious duties of U.S. Marshal.

Mr. Wanger read on--about The Ringo Kid and about Gatewood, the banker--the first an outlaw, though guilty of no crime; the second a thief, though still within the law.

Here was the beginning of a story born out of action, adventure and history--a story that needed only the magic touch of a master craftsman to take it off the page and put it, iife-size, onto the screen.

Who was to be that craftsman? There could only be one answer--John Ford. With a record of "The Lost Patrol", "Arrowsmith", "The Informer", "Steamboat, Roufh The Bend", "Mary of Scotland" and "The Hurricane" among many others, no one but John Ford could combine the romance, the adventure, the suspense, the speed and the humanity that were contained in the story of "Stagecoach".

Dudley Nichols was to be the one enlisted to write the screenplay. And after months of preparation, "Stagecoach" emerged ready for the call of "Camera!"

As Walter Wanger visualized the characters in the story, they practically cast themselves--taking shape very much like--

Claire Trevor as Dallas

She had no first name, and had no last. Dallas was what they called her--that is, when they took the trouble to call her by name at all. A young dance hall girl who had come from nowhere and kept moving because she wasn't good enough to associate with respectable women. Hardened by the frontier, toughened by a life no civilized woman was meant for, Dallas was amazed to discover that she was loved--that she, in turn, was a woman in love.

John Wayne as The Ringo Kid

He'd been wanting to get to Lordsburg to settle an old score with three men waiting for him there--settle it in the only way known on the frontier--by means of speeding, singing lead. But he was wanted by the law, and he couldn't get to Lordsburg unless he surrendered to the U.S. Marshal. He gave himself up, went along on the Stagecoach, and met his enemies. But--on the way to Lordsburg he also met Dallas, and that made a difference...

Andy Devine as Buck

One of the best and loudest drivers in the Territory--even if he was scared of Indians who, he claimed, were always ready to pop him off. Yet he preferred the dangers of the trail to the thought of returning to his wife, his eight kids and a multitude of sponging relatives too numerous to count on his fingers--and toes. Buck wasn't very educated.

John Carradine as Hatfield

Gambler, mystic, adventurer--deft in his manners, even more deft at cards. His strange past was filled with unconfessed crimes--but his were the highest ideals on the subject of pure womanhood. Where di he come from?--Where was he going?--Questions to which no one will ever know the answer. But his score with life was settled, though death was high stakes even for an adventuring gambler.

Thomas Mitchell as Doc Boone

Too "fluid" to stay put, the drinking doctor moved on with the Stagecoach. Maybe there was better drinking ahead--and no Temperance League. Nine cups of black coffee and a dim remembrance of medical tradition sobered him up enough to bring a baby into thr world--though the surgery was cabin in the wilderness and the operating table a floor of clay.

Louise Platt as Lucy MalloryLucy Mallory

Mrs. Mallory wanted to be with her husband when their baby was born. Courageously she chanced the long trip by Stagecoach. She reached her destination too late--but in sufficient time to witness the courage and character of a woman she had only despised.

George Bancroft as Curly Wilcox

Untied States Marshal--the arm of the law extending to the frontier of a great and growing nation. Ready to kill and be killed for the laws by which men live--but ready also to forget rules and regulations for he sake of humanity.

Tim Holt as Lieutenant Blanchard

Military genius in the no-man's-land of America's wilderness. Ambassador with Portfolio--of courage, tact, daring.

Berton Churchill as Gatewood

A pillar of society--but the termites had gotten to him--the termites of greed. He kept calling this a business trip--hoping no one would detect the embezzled fortune he was carrying off in his small black bag.

Donald Meek as Peacock

A whiskey salesman--and what if he mixed his sales talks with sermons? Didn't he always want to be a preacher until his wife inherited that distillery?

And so "Stagecoach" started on its epoch making journey with a group of passengers who were to live through love and hatred, kindness and greed, ambition and despair--each of them on his or her way to a destiny unknown.

"Stagecoach" is the story of these people, and what happened to them in the short lapse of forty-eight hours.

THE STAGECOACH COUNTRY

Except for a railroad station a hundred and eighty miles away, one or two roads of the axel-cracking type, a single telephone line, and an emergency radio phone--except for these appurtenances of civilization, the country where Walter Wanger's "Stagecoach" was filmed is exactly as it was in 1885--the time of the story.

After all, sea level changes very little in fifty odd years, and the Arizona plateau that greeted the eyes of John Ford and his company was practically as high--four thousand feet--as it was a half a century ago--as it has been, in fact, for the past 160,000,000 years. The expanse of the wasteland of which Monument Valley is a part, still measured a hundred by four hundred miles. The jutting buttes which Ford saw still rose sharply to heights of from five hundred feet. The mountain air was clear, distances were misleading, the arroyos were dry, and the sagebrush was everywhere. As the director of "Stagecoach" walked onto his location site, he went back m,ore than fifty years. There wasn't a Burma -Shave sign in sight. True, the "Stagecoach" company came in a fleet of cars and trucks. But once arrived, they had to function much as the early settlers did--unload, pitch a camp, and go to work. Also true, the Indians in Monument Valley didn't start shooting arrows into the pale-face movie folks' midriff. But Ford and his men now say they would rather have had a battle than go through the ordeal of getting the Indians to sign social security cards so they could appear before the cameras.

Much has been happening in the world, but to Monument Valley and its redskin citizens, it is still 1885.

There is, for example, the matter of money. Bills may be in circulation--in fact, highly acceptable--everywhere else. But in Monument Valley they don't exist. Silver coins are a novelty, considered all right enough to buy a few things necessary for life. Sometimes a Navajo of the Valley will even make himself a belt of silver dollars--a concession to the fact that these coins, when new, are pretty flashy. But when it comes to measuring his wealth, The Monument Valley native thinks only in terms of turquoise.

For centuries, turquoise has been treasured by the Navajo--mainly because it is the color of the sky. For centuries, he has been finding it, collecting it,and handing it down to his heirs. For centuries the Indian of Monument Valley as never parted with his precious turquoise unless dire need made it necessary.It is just the same today.

This tradition in the field of wealth can be applied to every branch of life in Monument Valley. Let cities grow upward and outward; let forests be destroyed and rejuvenated; let farming be mechanized and systematized. It means nothing to the Navajo of Northern Arizona who will go on forever as he has been going on for eons.

Navajo Indians are a nomadic people. A brave and his family any build and live in three or four hogans (or huts) each year--one during the corn growing season: another during the grazing season and still another during the winter season. Most Indians have a flock of 25 to 100 sheep to provide wool for weaving; a cow (or steer) and an Indian pony (cayuse) belonging to the buck.

Like his Astecian ancestors his religion consists mostly of a deep reverence for nature and many rituals inspired by sun, moon and stars. While the days of fantastic and fanatical Medicine Men have passed, present day Navajo and Apaches have great faith in their own religious cures.

The moral code of the Indian is strict, with the Squaw having far more freedom and dictation than is the popular belief. The squaw does most of the labor--builds the hogan, does the cooking, raises the family and weaves the cloth, blankets and rugs. The buck is the warrior and trader and extremely shrewd in his business dealings.

In the days of "Stagecoach", the buck wore little except a breech cloth and moccasins. They carried with them heavy woolen blankets (draped over their ponies) which served as a cover when they slept out of doors or when it rained. Today these red men wear an old white man's coat or come discarded army uniform coat, or a vest, or a shirt worn outside trousers or overalls and shoes or moccasins. Occasionally they wear old hats; seldom even one feather. They paint their faces only for tribal ceremonies.

Letter from Louise Platt in 2002

"In 2003-2003 the Ned Scott Archive collaborated with the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum to mount an exhibit honoring the making of the movie Stagecoach in 1939. Among the many interesting features in the exhibit was an edited excerpt from a letter written by cast member Louise Platt in 2002. In her letter, Louise reminisces about the process of filming the movie. She recounts tales about John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell, John Ford, John Carradine and other key members of the production. Her letter stands alone as an artifact by itself, offering a brief glimpse into the inner workings of film production.

 

Transcript of letter dated July 8, 2002 from Louise Platt of Southold, New York to the Ned Scott Archive in Louisville, Kentucky

 

I'm so old that I can remember when a typewritten letter was just for business. My father even sent back a letter of mine because it was not handwritten--I use that as a rationale for remaining computer illiterate--it seems to me that labor-saving devices actually take too much time.

You have asked me to remember and so I shall. Some of Stagecoach seems as close as yesterday--the rest has faded into a cloud.

The reason I am the sole survivor (of the cast) is that I was the youngest--I had a twenty-fourth birthday in the last seek of shooting. I will write things from that film as they come to me.

Claire Trevor was the most beautiful-hearted person that I had met, or ever met. We remained friends all those years since tho only by mail or the telephone. I cannot bear the sadness of her dying even tho' considering age alone it was to be expected. Alas! My own is the only departure of which I am certain. All whom I love should never die--.

She read the Oz books during the five weeks we were shooting--I think she finished Quickly Duild of Oz on the last day! She said she never read them or had them read to her when she was a child;that the longing to have had that churned in her mind too often--she reasoned that the only was to use her head for better things was to get rid of the invasive regret of never having had them. She said much later when I asked, that it had done the trick--I received a last letter from her just before she died.

Tim Holt and I looked alike! Perhaps that was because our fathers have exact images of one another--in fact I flew at Jack Holt when he came on the set to visit Tim. I thought he was my own dad!

John Carradine played heavies but was a dear pussy cat. He introduced me to the discovery that Edward De Vere, V.Chancellor to Elizabeth !, was the real author of the William Shakespeare plays. I have been obsessed with this identification ever since and hope that it will by fully accepted in my lifetime which gives the theory at least a year to explode. John and I saw one another rarely in N.Y. He was as marvelous on the stage as in movies. It was his voice and that long-boned face plus compete and basic honesty.

John and I talked of nothing else in the five weeks we worked together except Shakespeare. When the whole cast was at the dinner table before some Stagecoach event or other, Donny Meek (Donald Meek) in a sudden rage jumped up onto the dining table, broke off the neck of a coke bottle and came towards poor surprised John (Carradine) in the highest dudgeon--fortunately he was restrained by others but foaming at the lip he said, "All I've heard for five weeks is Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare. I can't stand it another minute." In about two seconds Donny was smiling and munching chicken. Donny was lightly non compos mentis but certainly a great talent--he was a scene stealer, too. One time when he was in the background of a barroom scene of someone's close-up he reached for a slice of bread and with it wearily wiped his brow as though it was an unbearably hot summer day. You have to look sharp but part of his antic is still there.

You have specifically asked about Tommy Mitchell. Although I had known him ever so slightly in New York, he did not know me then and never indicated any memory of a certain occasion ie: I was sent to Philadelphia to replace a certain actress in a play which was directed by Tommy. As instructed I went to Philadelphia and saw he play. The sage manager came to me and said "Unfortunately the director is not here. " "That's Okay", I said. "I'll find him." I went to the bar, and sure enough Tommy was there, stoned. "Mr. Mitchell," I said, "I'm Louise Platt and I have just seen your play and...". "Don't tell me," he interrupted, "don't ell me what you think of it." "I like it very much," I said, "but I think the ingenue is really good." "there's always an actor who must pay by sacrifice," he said. "Anyway," I said, "There's no point in replacing her. "She's much better than I would be." I went back to New York. The play opened. It wasn't a hit but it wasn't a flop, either. The play had problems nothing to do with the actors. Tommy was right, though--when a play is in trouble certain of the cast will always be sacrificed on the altar of the theater-God. The young ingenue had been replaced--no better--no worse.

During Stagecoach our former meeting was never acknowledged so I assumed the occasion had faded into the mist--and yet: Tommy invited me and John Barrymore to his house one afternoon--tea was served--then he stood before the fireplace and with tears in his eyes he told this story: "You probably know that at one time I was a hopeless washed-up slob--I lost the people most dear to me. My wife, the best woman in the world was very patient but finally, sadly could no longer accept me as I had become--she and my daughter left me. I wept and wept and wept."

I've invited you here because I want you two especially to know what has happened. I have not had a drink in two years. I have courted my wife and daughter. My wife accepted my marriage proposal of yesterday afternoon. We're having a wedding to which you two are the first to be invited"--so saying he raised his tea cup. We three raised ours in celebration--John Barrymore went on the wagon for eight months after that and I thought that perhaps Tommy had remembered after all--that e invited John because John was a hopeless inebriate and because I had once seen Tommy in his cups. I certainly remember that afternoon--one of the best of all moments. I can vaguely recall the wedding--J.B. was completely charming and told anyone and everyone proudly that his present sobriety was in honor of Tommy Mitchell, the groom.

An appointment was made at Walter Wanger's office to meet John Ford and Dudley Nichols. As you probably know practical jokes were legendary in those days. Specifically against actors--one was pulled out of the hat that day. Now I had known many "patsy crultiss" in my young days and had always "taken" them quietly--this one hit me at a sensitive day, I guess, for I walked out and said I wouldn't be in their damned picture if it were the last film I ever made. I went back to the hotel, packed my bag and was waiting for a car to take me to the airport. Dudley Nichols came to persuade me not to go. "It was just a joke", he said,"nobody was laughing", I said. "That wasn't meant to be taken seriously", he said. I was shaking with anger and pride too because I'd finally had the courage to face the mean-spiritors down. After a day and a half Dudley persuaded me to change my mind.

The first scene shot with the whole cast was at the dining table. I said my lines. The camera stopped rolling. John Ford walked towards me. 'Here it comes", I thought. He leaned slightly towards me and said, "I don't want a Virginia accent, I don't want any charms. This gal is cold as a rock." He went back to the camera I played cold as a rock. John Ford never said anything else to me--except always"How would you like to do this scene?" I would say, he would nod agreement, and that was that. At the first showing of the movie we were all in the coach with a team of horses slipping and sliding neighing and snorting on the stage of the Pantages (theater). Now that was a ride--fortunately of short duration. Then we saw the movie for the first time. I was a little worried all that night--something wasn't quite right. By morning I knew what was bothering me. I telephoned John Ford. "Mr. Ford", I said quivering at my own temerity, "You told me that all Lucy Mallory is thinking of is getting there." "Yes--and," he said. "Well," I ventured she doesn't, for all the audience knows, 'get' there". "What do you mean." "Well," I said, "She's unresolved, the audience might think she was shot. They won't know." Somewhat acerbic, he said, "This story is not about Lucy Mallory." 'I know that," I continued, "but if the audience saw her arrive she'd be resolved." "Oh, God!", he said, "Another actress wanting more dialogue." "No, no." I said, "No dialogue, just arrival. It would be another chance to show how warm and good-hearted Dallas is--like your marvelous close-up of her saying, 'It's a girl.' " (Which is my opinion of a great close-up with a short piece of dialogue showing how good the woman is and what a loving wife and mother she'll be without exposition.) Without a word in reply the phone clicked and I thought that was the end of it. The next day i got a call to be at the studio at 6 for a retake. We did the scene I thought should be there--wonder of wonders--what began as a promised dreary experience ended up as a rare one.

Since Stagecoachh has become a classic, each person connected with it including the actors has said they always knew it would be one of the great films. Don't you believe it. It's success was a surprise to everyone but John Ford. John Ford said things a few a which I remember. "The saying about old soldiers is really about actors. viz: (old) actors never die, hey just fade away." I said, "It says in the script--she is a Virginian with a musical accent, charming and polite or perhaps Dudley said that." The reply was, "That's Dudley's direction, not mine and I'll probably never work with him again. I think a mote is for the eye. Dudley thinks it's to the ear. His next film will no doubt be three hours long--I like a minimum of dialogue--Dudley loves verbiage."

Of Claire Trevor; "I've always been a fan.

Of John Wayne: "Hell be the biggest star ever because he is the perfect everyman."

Of me: "You are the easiest to work with. (He was a;ways a little afraid that I will tell about his mean practical joke. I never have. Here I merely told that there was one.) and "You'll go back to N. Y.--the theater will be more suitable for you than pictures--"

If when you watch Stagecoach the early dialogue seems to fly past too speedily I think that is because some of the frames were destroyed.

The former director of A.M. Her. Cent (American Heritage Center) was planning to come East and asked if we could meet. In one of my moves his letter,, address, etc. was lost and I forgot his name--I kept meaning to take the trouble to find out is name in order to answer. Time slipped by so fast. I never contacted him. He probably has the drawing I mentioned--I regret I was so remiss. I now have writer's cramp. This is the first time I have answered a request like your own. And undoubtedly the last. I admire your effort in favor of Ned Scott who did his job netter that others did theirs. In case people don't know how important these stills are the verity of the movie depends on them. I saw a movie the other day--it was a story of the 1800's the leading lady starts the movie as a brunette--her hair became lighter and lighter as the story progressed till in her last scene she was almost blonde.

Another movie a man had on a green sweater--in the middle of the scene his sweater became checkered.

Once I saw and actor in a scene with an object in his hand (important to the plot) which miraculously must have changed shape in mid air--I could go on and on recounting these things gone wrong because the stills were inaccurate. A scene may not be shot in its entirety in a single day--so matching photos are essential.

I have writers' camp.

For your sake I wish I could have been succinct.

Sincerely,

Loise Platt

July 7/02


SCANS OF ORIGINAL LETTER

 

Louise Platt Letter
Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter
Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter
Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter
Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter
Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter
Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter Louise Platt Letter

Miscellaneous Documents

Location orders sent to  Ned Scott from Wanger Studios, October 1938 Telegram sent from Bakersfield, CA to Gwladys Scott

Portraits

John Ford as "Himself"

John Ford John Ford

Unkown Apache, "Apache Belle"

Stagecaoch 1939 film: A portrait of a Native Apache belle with necklaces of bear teeth, wolf teeth, turquoise and hand pounded silver, and her bright colored blanket is typical of her grandmother who saw the stagecoaches of 1885 cross the high plateau on their East-West run.  This beautiful Southwestern American is among the many Apaches appearing in Walter Wanger's spectacular drama

George Bancroft as Marshall "Curly Wilcox"

George Bancroft as Marshall Stagecoach 1939 film: A portrait of George Bancroft as U.S. Marshall "Curly" Wilcox in John Ford's epic Western drama, "Stagecoach".  Walter Wanger Productions staff members applied this caption on the back of this print in Ned Scott's personal collection: George Bancroft in the role of "Curly", a U.S. Marshall, in Walter Wanger's production "Stagecoach".  Bancroft again plays the type of character that has made him famous--a rugged, two-fisted he-man. This production marks the 14th anniversary since climbing to stardom". Director John Ford's epic Western drama, "Stagecoach", 1939. George Bancroft as Marshall George Bancroft as Marshall George Bancroft as Marshall

Chief John Big Tree, Chief of the Iroquois Nation, as an Indian scout attached to the US Cavalry

Stagecoach photos: 1939 Caption attached to the back of this print reads: Chief John Big Tree, Chief of the Iroquois Nation, plays the role of Indian scout attached to the U.S. Cavalry in Walter Wanger's new dramatic production "Stagecoach". Director John Ford's epic Western drama, "Stagecoach", 1939

John Carradine as "Hatfield"

John Carradine as Stagecaoch photos: A portrait of John Carradine as "Hatfield" for John Ford's epic Western drama, "Stagecoach".  Walter Wanger Production staff applied this caption to the back of this print in 1939: John Carradine, portrayer of unusual roles, who has the part of "Hatfield", a selfish, suave gambler, in Walter Wanger's piorneer drama, "Stagecoach".  During the perilous journey of the stagecoach, Hatfield reverts to an earlier Virginia gentility to aid a woman to whom he doesn't dare reveal his identity." The caption refers to the pregnant cavalry officer's wife, Lucy Mallory played by Louise Platt. Director John Ford's epic Western drama, "Stagecoach", 1939. John Carradine as

Berton Churchill as "Henry Gatewood", the embezzling banker

Stagecoach movie: A portrait of Berton Churchill from Director John Ford's "Stagecoach".  Walter Wanger Productions staff added this caption to the back of this print: Berton Churchill, in the role of the absconding banker in Walter Wanger's poineer production "Stagecoach".  Chruchill, as the blustering, threatening criminal trying to cover suspicion of his theft, draws upon his long career on the stage in the 1890's to lend historical authenticity to his frontier role."    Berton Churchill as Berton Churchill as Berton Churchill as

Andy Devine as "Buck", the skinner or coach driver

Andy Devine as Buck Andy Devine as Buck Andy Devine as Buck Andy Devine as Buck Andy Devine

Francis Ford as "Billy Pickett"

Francis Ford as Francis Ford as Stagecaoch 1939 film: A portrait of Francis Ford for Director John Ford's epic Western drama "Stagecoach". Walter Wanger Production Staff added this descriptive caption to the back of this print: "Francis Ford plays the role of Willy Pickett, frontier relay station agent who kept his spirits constantly keyed up with hard liquor.  One of the many interesting frontier characters in Walter Wanger's "Stagecoach".

Tim Holt as US Army Cavalry commander, "Lt. Blanchard"

Tim Holt as US Army Cavalry commander, The 1939 studio caption for this prnt reads:  Reviving the dramatic valor of the Army's most colorful branch, the rapidly disappearing cavalry, Tim Holt leads a troop in 'Stagecoach'. The unit comes to the aid of an Apache beleagured coach in Walter Wanger's dramatic story of 1885.  Holt is admriably suited to his role as Lt. Blanchard, having commanded Culver Military Academy's black horse troop during prep-school days."

Donald Meek as "Samuel Peacock"

Donald Meek as Samuel Peacock Stagecoach movie: The 1939 studio caption attached to the print reads: "Donald Meek, screendom's 'little grey mouse', who has an amusing role in Walter Wanger's production, 'Stagecoach'.  Meek plays the part of a subdued little man who wanted to become a clergyman, but who was forced to become a whiskey drummer when his wife inherited a distillery.  Next to Indians, he hates whiskey worse until given some after being shot with an arrow."   Donald Meek as Samuel Peacock Donald Meek as Samuel Peacock Donald Meek as Samuel Peacock

Thomas Mitchell as "Doc Boone", the inebriated doctor. Mitchell received an Oscar for his role.

The 1939 studio caption for this print reads: "A character study of Thomas Mitchell in the role of drunken Doc Boone in Walter Wanger's historical drama, "Stagecoach".  Mitchell, with splendid dramatic record behind him, is exceeding past performances by injecting a loveable-trait into the character of the wayward doctor, who despite his inability to stay sober, rises to an emergency and brings a lusty baby into the wrorld during the perilous dash of the stagecoach.  Mitchell was awarded an Oscar for his role. Thomas Mitchell as 'Doc Boone' Thomas Mitchell as Thomas Mitchell as 'Doc Boone' Thomas Mitchell as

Louise Platt as "Lucy Mallory", an army officer's wife

Louise Platt as Lucy Mallory Stagecaoch movie: Louise Platt plays the role of the pregnant cavalry officer's wife in Director John Ford's "Stagecoach".  Miss Platt's characterization is that of a stern little Southern girl who is determined to join her husband despite approaching motherhood and the rigors of the stagecoach journey. Louise Platt as Lucy Mallory Louise Platt as Lucy Mallory Louise Platt as Lucy Mallory
Louise Platt as Lucy Mallory Louise Platt as Lucy Mallory Louise Platt poses for a promotional shot for her role as Lucy Mallory, the army officer's pregnant wife in the movie 'Stagecoach', 1939 Louise Platt poses in a warm and flattering posture for Stagecoach, 1939

Mexican singer, Elvira Rios

Stagecoach movie: A portrait of Elvira Rios who played the role of a station keeper's wife in "Stagecoach".  Walter Wanger Productions staff added this caption to the back of this print: Elvira Rios, Mexico's highest paid singer.  Miss Rios sings in Spanish in Walter Wanger's frontier production, "Stagecoach". Possessing an unusual vioce of rich quality, Miss Rios has won fame for her interpretive singing into which is woven the folk lore, hopes, and tragedies of the Mexican Indian.  In "Stagecoach", she plays the wife of one of the relay station keepers.  Miss Rios sings in Walter Wanger's frontier production, "Stagecaoch".

Claire Trevor as "Dallas", the outcast girl

Claire Trevor Claire Trevor as Claire Trevor as Dallas Claire Trevor as the outcast girl in John Ford's "Stagecoach", 1939. Claire Trevor as Dallas Claire Trevor as Dallas
Clair Trevor An on-set photograph of Claire Trevor, playing the outcast girl, Dallas.  This film sequence takes place at Apache Wells relay station.  The cavalry officer's wife, Mrs. Mallory, played by Loise Platt, has just given birth to a healthy baby girl not long after the stagecaoch arrived at the Apache Wells.  Dallas has just finished assisting Doc Boone, played by Thomas Mitchell, in the baby's delivery.  As she carries the newborn forward into the large room, her appearance with the bundle breaks up a viscious argument among the other stage passengers: those who wish to go back to avoid rampaging Apache warriors and those who wish to go foreward to Lordsburg.  Director John Ford's epic frontier drama, Stagecoach, 1939. Claire Trevor in a private sitting for Stagecoach 1938 Claire Trevor playing the role of Dallas, the outcast girl, for the film Stagecoach Claire Trevor playing the role of Dallas, the outcast girl, for the film Stagecoach Claire Trevor in a private sitting for Stagecoach 1938
Claire TrevorClaire Trevor as Dallas A character pose of Claire Trevor as the outcast girl for John Ford's Stagecoach, 1939. Claire Trevor plays the outcast girl, Dallas, whose attitude and temperament are clearly on display in this fine character portrayal for John Ford’s Western epic drama, ‘Stagecoach', 1939. Claire Trevor

John Wayne as "Ringo Kid"

John Wayne as John Wayne as John Wayne as John Wayne as Stagecoach movie: A portrait of John Wayne as the Ringo Kid.  Walter Wanger Productions staff added this caption to the back of the print: "John Wayne, stalwart star of a hundred rugged adventures creates a new screen career for himself playing the male lead in Walter Wanger's "Stagecoach", a spectacular drama of the American frontier in the late '80s, when Indian warfare added to the growing pains of rapidly progressing Southwest territories."  Director John Ford later said of Wayne that he will be the biggest star ever because he is the "everyman". John Wayne as

John Wayne as John Wayne as John Wayne Photos John Wayne Photos John Wayne Photos

John Wayne as "Ringo Kid" & Claire Trevor as "Dallas", the outcast girl

John Wayne and Clair Trevor John Wayne and Clair Trevor John Wayne and Clair Trevor John Wayne and Claire Trevor share a light moment on set as the Ringo Kid and the Outcast Girl in Director John Ford's epic Western saga, "Stagecoach", 1939.

Movie Scenes

Stagecoach movie scenes

Scene from Stagecoach Stagecoach movie:  The 1939 caption attached to the back of this photograph reads: "Remember, Mr. Gatewood, (Berton Churchill) that you are covering up your theft of $50,000 --so sputter and beller about everything that annoys you", says John Ford in rehearsing this scene for "Stagecoach".  Curly (George Bancroft) looks on.  Buck (Andy Devine) is on the driver's seat and within the coach are Dallas (Claire Trevor), Mrs. Mallory (Louise Platt) and Mr. Peacock (Donald Meek).  This frontier drama scene took place at the Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth, California. Scene from Stagecoach Navajo Indians, recruited to play the role of maurauding Apache Indians, ride to attack the coach in Walter Wanger's "Stagecoach".  This scene was filmed at Lucerne Dry Lake near Victorville, California.  The cayuse horses ridden in this scene belonged to the Navajos Scene from Stagecoach Scene from Stagecoach Movie Stagecoach: 1939 caption attached to the back of this print reads: "Thomas Mitchell, who plays the drunken Doctor Boone, in Walter Wanger's "Stagecoach", looks down the gullet of his drinking buddy Billy Pickett, played by Francis Ford." Scene from Stagecoach Scene from Stagecoach Movie Stagecoach: The caption pasted to the back of this 1939 print reads: "With pity, Hatfield (John Carradine), the cold blooded gambler in "Stagecoach", places a cloak over the doughter of the relay station keeper who has been murdered by Apaches.  The ocoach, with its nine passengers has just arrived only to find the staion burned and everyone dead.  The delay enables the Indians to prepare for an attack on the stage in Walter Wanger's presentation of pioneer days.  Stagecoach 1939 film: Cavalrymen rushing to the rescue of the passengers in the coach during filming of Walter Wanger's "Stagecoach".  Filming for this scene took place in Lucerne Dry Lake near Apple Valley, California. Impersonating Geronimo and his warriors, a group of local Navajo tribesman, recruited by Walter Wanger Productions for the film, gather on a bluff preparing to attach the pasengers traveling in the stagecaoch below. Stagecoach 1939 film: This caption was pasted to the back of this print in 1939: Dallas' (Claire Trevor) bitterness slowly gives ground to the tender warmth of Mrs. Mallory's baby, born at a relay station in "Stagecoach". Mr. Peacock (Donald Meek) sheds his timidity long enough to coo at the day-old infant, tenderly held by the outcast girl."  Stagecoach movie: "Tsk, tsk, tsk", Buck (Andy Devine), the stage driver, says to himself as Dallas (Claire Trevor) hurls a parting insult at he women who are forcing her out of town.  "Stagecoach", under production by Walter Wanger and directed by John Ford, depicts the part these pioneer conveyances played in the lives of the people who rode them.  Through sun and sleet, over prairie and desert and stagecaoch carried its human cargo and as it jounced and swayed over meager trails, it brought great changes in the lives of those who rode in them.  To Dallas, the bitter outcast girl, it brought love and a new life.  Stagecoach movie: The caption pasted to the back of this 1939 print reads: "Exclusive for Fan Magazines.  Claire Trevor and John Wayne, co-stars of Walter Wanger's "Stagecoach", wishing each other a "happy landing" before Andy Devine drove the coach's six-horse team ontstage at a recent beneift in which the entire "Stagecoach" cast participated." Director John Ford's classic saga of the frontier, Stagecoach, 1939. Stagecoach 1939 film: The caption pasted to the back of this print reads: "The meek shall inherit the earth", observes "Cactus", the burro.  "Well and good", says Donald Meek, but if the meek have to carry loads like that I don't want the earth". Mr. Meek plays the role of Mr. Peacock, an unwilling whiskey salesman in Walter wanger's "Stagecoach".  Stagecoach movie: At the charity premier of "Stagecoach" in Hollywood, the coach, horses, and all nine actors in costume arived on the front stage to build the drama of the opening.  Here John Wayne is admonished by Donald Meek to keep his foot on the brake while Andy Devine is driving the coach onstage. Director John Ford's classic tale of the frontier, "Stagecaoch", 1939. Movie Stagecoach: Dallas (Claire Trevor) expresses disgust as she is driven from Tonto, Arizona in this scene from Walter Wanger's "Stagecoach". Her anger is shared by Doc Boone (Thomas Mitchell) a drunken physician who has just been evicted from his boarding house for excess drinkling and too little bill paying.  The sheriff and the local "purity league" bring up the rear. Movie Stagecoach: The caption attached to this print reads:  Mrs. Mallory, played by Louise Platt, learns that her Army-officer husband has been wounded in an Indian fight.  Miss Platt is in the foreground with John Carradine, George Bancroft and Andy Devine are on the driver's seat of the coach; Donald Meek and Claire Trevor are in the coach, and John Wayne is at the right. Stagecoach 1939 film: The 1939 caption for this print reads: "Five of the stage passengers in Walter Wanger's "Stagecoach", having dinner at one of the relay stations.  From left to right the players are: Claire Trevor as Dallas, an outcast woman; John Wayne as the Ringo Kid, an escaped prisoner; Marga Ann Deighton, as the wife of Billy Pickett, the station keeper; Louise Platt, as the wife of a Cavalry officer; John Carradine, as Hatfield, a gambler; and Berton Churchill, as absconding banker. Scene from Stagecoach Stagecoach movie: The 1939 caption attached to this print reads:  Buck, (Andy Devine), the stage driver, is pleased with the swift trotting of his six-horse team because he thinks the coach is headed for the protection of a troop of cavalry.  Curly (George Bancroft), the U.S. Marshall with shotgun at the ready, doesn't share Buck's anticipation as he anxiously scans the horizon for attacking Apaches in Walter Wanger's "Stagecoach".   Scene from Stagecoach Scene from Stagecoach Scene from Stagecoach Scene from Stagecoach Scene from Stagecoach Ringo (John Wayne), Marshall Wilcox (George Bancroft) and Dallas (Claire Trevor) gaze at something in the hills surrounding the Apache Wells relay station.  Ringo, while trying to escape from the Marshall who is still inside the relay station, stops abruptly, dismounts from the station owner's horse that has run back to the station, while Marshall Curly and Dallas who are trying to stop him, catch up. Off in the distance Apache warriors are signalling with smoke plumes, announcing their threatening presence.  Director John Ford's epic saga of the frontier, Stagecoach, 1939. The drunken Doc Boone, (Thomas Mitchell), prepares to get to work with the help of the pariah Dallas (Claire Trevor) to deliver a new baby girl.  Lucy Mallory (Louise Platt) has just gone into labor at the Apache Wells stage relay station after hearing that her cavalry officer husband, Lt. Blanchard (Tim Holt) has just been injured in a skirmish with Apache warriors.  Dallas has just fetched a large pot of hot water which she has given to Doc Boone as he stands in Lucy's doorway with his doctor's bag.  Director John Ford's classic saga of the frontier, "Stagecoach", 1939. Scene from Stagecoach Scene from Stagecoach Scene from Stagecoach Scene from Stagecoach Yak Canutt, the ultimate stuntman, takes a spill with his horse during a chase scene in the film Stagecoach Louise Platt in costume on the set of Stagecoach takes a moment to type a letter between scenes Stagecoach 1939 film: George Bancroft as U.S. Marshall Curly Wicox confronts John Wayne who plays the escaped prisoner, Ringo Kid, on the road in Walter Wanger's "Stagecoach". A worried stage way-station keeper discusses recent rampages by hostile Indians with the stage guests in Stagecoach 1938 Stagecaoch 1939 film: Claire Trevor, as outcast girl Dallas, gets a sneer from the cavalry officer's wife, Lucy Mallory, played by Louise Platt and the Southern gentleman and arrogant gambler, Hatfield, played by John Carradine. At a stagecoach relay station on the route to Lordsburg, pregnant cavalry officer’s wife, Lucy Mallory,  played by Louise Platt, gathers her strength after a collapse in the court just outside while Doc Boone, played by Thomas Mitchell, and Dallas, the outcast girl, look on with worried and concerned expressions. The Overland Stage makes its way to Lordsburg through some windy, snowy country on the location set near Kayenta, Arizona.  Director John Ford wanted to stage this scene in snow, and Mother Nature granted him his wish.  John Ford’s ‘Stagecoach', 1939 Navajo Indians participated in this attack scene to lend authenticity to the action.  Residents of the region, they were recruited to portray Apache warriors who performed raids just like this under Chief Geronimo’s command in the 1870’s.    Ned Scott was praised for his grasp of the action scenes because he had positioned himself just right to capture headlong spills such as this one from a galloping horse. John Ford’s Stagecoach', 1939. A close-up of Navajo Indians, portraying attacking Apache warriors, ride to intercept the Overland Stage as it tries to evade a raiding party.  John Ford’s ‘ Stagecoach”, 1939. A full retinue of attacking Apache warriors rides to intercept the Overland Stage in a raid directed by Geronimo who was terrorizing the region at the time.  John Ford’s ‘Stagecoach’, 1939. The stagecoach full of terrified passengers attempts to outrun Apache attackers during a raid by Geronimo, the notorious villain in John Ford’s ‘Stagecoach', 1939. After the second leg of their journey to Lordsburg, the passengers dismount from the stage in the courtyard of the Apache Wells relay station.  All hands are present to witness the exchange between the station proprietor Chris (Chris-Pin Martin) and Lucy Mallory (Louise Platt), the pregnant wife of Lt. Blanchard (Tim Holt), the U.S. Cavalry officer stationed in the area.  Chris breaks the bad news to Mrs. mallory that her husband was just injured in a skirmish with Apache warriors.  Chris also says that going on to Lordsburg is risky and perilous because Apaches have just attacked in several places along the route.  Director John Ford’s epic frontier drama, "Stagecoach", 1939.  tag tag

Stagecoach Cast

Stagecaost movie cast members in costume with Claire Trevor, John Wayne, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Louise Platt, Thomas Mitchell, Berton Churchill, Donald Meek and George Bancroft. The cast members gather around for a quick discussion at the gala premier of the film.  It was a charity occasion with all hands in costume, the stagecoach present with live horses and a procession across the stage.  Director John Ford's epic Western drama, 'Stagecoach', 1939. The entire cast join Director John Ford for a formal presentation of a bronze statuette to memorialize the Ford's epic western drama, "Stagecoach" 1939.