By Jack Rico
1) Meryl Streep came in and recorded our narration in one day, starting just 45 minutes after she got her 20th Academy Award nomination. She cheerfully accepted everyone’s congratulations and then got right down to work.
2) The five directors the documentary is about were among the highest-paid filmmakers in Hollywood when war broke out; Capra was a millionaire. During their years in the Army, they made about $250 a month.
3) After D-Day, George Stevens traveled with the U.S. Army deep into France, and was assigned to film the surrender of the occupying forces the day Paris was liberated. The surrender took place inside a dark train station, and Stevens, worried it wouldn’t show up on film, told the two generals involved to come out into the sunlight and do it again. That “second take” was the surrender seen around the world.
4) The Academy Award for Best Documentary was invented the year after the United States entered World War II, largely because of all of the extraordinary work directors were doing for the Armed Forces. The first year, there were twenty nominees and four winners–including John Ford and Frank Capra.
5) William Wyler wasn’t at the Oscars when he won his first Best Director Academy Award for Mrs. Miniver because he was flying in a bomber over occupied France and Germany. After he won, the Army ordered him to stop flying, knowing that his growing worldwide fame would make him a tempting target for Hitler’s army.