Biography of Lewis Milestone (1895-1980)

American Director, of Russian origin, whose real name was Leon Milstein. He was born in Chişinău, Bessarabia (USSR), on September 30, 1895, and died in Los Angeles (California, United States), on September 25, 1980.


University student of engineering at the University of Grand (Belgium), immigrated very young to the United States. He began working as an assistant photographer in 1915 before participating in the first world war, where he collaborated in the realization of educational films. After the great war he moved to Hollywood, where diversified activities as editor (for Fox and Warner), Assistant Director (with Henry King, Ince, Sennett, William Seiter), artistic director and screenwriter. Commissioned by Warner, 1925 he directed his first silent film, Seven Sinners, of which he was also co-writer. Soon after, Howard Hughes, to his producer Caddo Company, commissioned him to carry out a comedy set in the first world war, brothers in arms, and a film of gangsters, the Horde. He gradually incorporated the technological innovations of the talkies and, in 1929 he shot his first film with soundtrack, perfidy, with Gary Cooper and Emil Jannings, renowned actor of the German silent cinema; and, in 1929, his first spoken film, New York nights, melodrama around the world of New York theater. In those years of learning, with the novelty of the talkies, carried out one of its most prestigious movies, all quiet on the front, pacifist plea based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, also set in the great war.

In 1931 he entered the world of journalism with a great story, a comedy based on the play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (born subsequently to the movies repeatedly, including by Howard Hawks with the title of new moon); a year later, in addition to perform the functions of head of production at United Artists, shot rain, adapting to the writer Somerset Maugham, with Joan Crawford and Walter Huston, respectively, embodying a sensual adventuress and a Puritan missionary; and, in 1934, he offered to John Gilbert, silent film star, his last screen appearance, the captain hates the sea. In the second half of the Decade of 1930 he directed several films for Paramount, the musical Paris in Spring and anything goes, as well as the general died at dawn, a story of love that went back to work with Gary Cooper.

Years later he joined the RKO, where he finally having its own production team and roll, scripted by Robert Rossen, another of their best thoughts on the war, a walk in the Sun, set this time in the second world war. He returned to working with Rossen as screenwriter in the strange love of Martha Ivers, a detective played by Barbara Stanwyck - in another of his characters from fatal woman - and Kirk Douglas, in his first film as an actor. Years earlier had led, in 1943, two remarkable films about the resistance during the second World War: one, set in Norway, Edge of Darkness, with Errol Flynn and Walter Huston; and the other, set in the Soviet Union, The North Star, with Dana Andrews and Anne Baxter. In 1948, Milestone met Ingrid Bergman , Charles Boyerand Charles Laughton in the filming of Arc de Triomphe, film of love and espionage that was, at first, a resounding commercial flop, despite its star cast, and where returned to adapt to film, a novel by the German writer Erich Maria Remarque. Hounded by the House UN-American activities Committee for his known leftist ideology, departed for the United States to make a romantic film, in Australia the whip Act; in the United Kingdom, the spell of Melba, about a figure of the opera; and, in Italy, the vedova.

In the early 1950's, the director returned to approaching the war-themed situation desperate, located in front of the Pacific in the second world war; They Who Dare and the top of the heroes, about the war in Korea. He managed to escape unscathed from the "witch hunt" by Senator McCarthy and his film career with the crew of the eleven - a film to the greater glory of the clan of Frank Sinatra- closed, and rebellion on board. On television he participated in the direction of several series at the end of the 1950s.

His career received an Oscar to the best comedy Director (for brothers in arms) and best Director for without novelty in the front.


As Assistant Director: 1921: triumphant youth.

As Editor Assistant: 1923: main street.

As Editor: 1942: Our Russian Front (with Joris Ivens).

As a screenwriter and co-writer: 1922: Up at the'em. 1925: Bobbed hair; Seven sinners. 1930: All quiet on the front. 1948: Arch of triumph.

As adapter: 1924: care, singles! 1925: The mad whirl; Dangerous innocence; The teaser. 1955: the Vedova.

As a producer: 1939: brute force. 1942: Our Russian Front (with Joris Ivens). 1945: A walk in the Sun. 1948: No minor vices. 1949: The red pony. 1960: The eleven gang.

As an actor: 1926: Radiant youth. 1936: The general died at dawn.

As director: 1925: Seven sinners. 1926: Carbonero Great Lord; The new klondike. 1927: Brothers in arms. 1928: The garden of Eden; The Horde. 1929: Perfidy; New York nights. 1930: All quiet on the frente.1931: A great story. 1932: Lluvia.1933: I am a tramp. 1934: The captain hates the sea. 1935: Paris in spring. 1936: Anything goes; The general died at dawn. 1939: Brute force; The night of nights. 1940: United by fortune. 1941: Again mia. 1942: Our Russian Front (with Joris Ivens). 1943: Edge of darkness; The North Star. 1944: The Purple Heart; Seed (uncredited) hatred. 1945: A walk in the Sun. 1946: The strange love of Martha Ivers. 1948: Arc de Triomphe; No minor vices. 1949: The red pony. 1951: Desperate situation. 1952: The law of the whip; The inspector of iron. 1953: The spell of Melba; They who dare. 1955: the Vedova. 1959: The top of the heroes. 1960: The eleven gang. 1962: Rebellion on board.


DOHERTY, Thomas: Projections of war. Hollywood, american culture and World War II. New York. Columbia University Press. 1993.

E. C. García Fernández/J. Manuel Estrada