This is my very short story of meeting director Edward Dmytryk.
Toronto Film Society screened Dmytryk’s The Caine Mutiny (1954) in August 1980 and in August 1988, both times were during its Summer Series. It was in 1988 when the board of directors decided to invited Edward Dmytryk, and his wife Jean Porter, to introduce the film at the screening, which at that time was held on the big screen at the Crest Theatre (now the Regent) on Mount Pleasant Road in Toronto. I don’t recall if I was on the board of directors at that time or still acting as a volunteer, but I believe the current president was Barry Haynes, and he asked me if I would go with him to the airport to pick up the couple. Of course, I was thrilled to do so. TFS had booked the Dmytryk’s into the Windsor Arms, a posh little hotel in the centre of downtown, which still exists today.
So, what was the discussion in the car ride from the airport to the hotel? I wish I could tell you, because I have no memory whatsoever. I do remember them being very pleasant people and we said goodnight to them when we dropped them off at their hotel door.
What Dmytryk said when he introduced the film is also a blur. I know that’s rather sad, but I just don’t remember after 31 years. However, I do remember the film being shown in glorious colour and I have never forgotten Humphrey Bogart’s portrayal of the paranoid perfectionist and cowardly, Captain Queeg. When I was at the Humphrey Bogart Film Festival in 2017, one of the films I was most looking forward to seeing again was The Caine Mutiny. It also reminded that Fred MacMurray was surprisingly good as a nasty. He will be eternally remembered as Walter Neff in Double Indemnity, but for the most part, he’s usually thought of being the good guy, ending his long career as that wonderful TV dad, Steve Douglas, in My Three Sons.
To end my little story, about five years later, I attended Cinecon, the Los Angeles film festival which is held every Labour Day weekend, and the Dmytryks were in attendance. I believe I even watched a film sitting near them in the second screening room that was offered at the time—I think it was Dr. Monica, the 1934 Kay Francis/Warren William film—but felt too shy to say anything to them, thinking they wouldn’t remember me. If it was today, I wouldn’t have had that problem. I just would have gone up and reintroduced myself.
And since I am mentioning Cinecon, I might as well let you know that after all these years of wishing I could attend again, I will be heading there in August for Cinecon 55! The first (and only) time I was there, there were still stars of yesteryear with us on this planet—Anita Page, Buddy Rogers, Edward Dmytryk, Anna Lee and, ta-da, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.! One that is still with us at the age of 100(!) and who I will get to see again this year is Marsha Hunt. Of the films I’ve seen of hers, the one that most sticks in my memory, is Kid Glove Killers, a 1942 Fred Zinnemann film where she played opposite Van Heflin and featured Lee Bowman.
I have seen many Edward Dmytryk films, but my sharpest memory of Dmyryk himself is watching his 1947 Crossfire, then afterwards watching the feature included on the DVD where he discusses how the film was shot, the different lenses that were used and what film noir meant to him.
Not every film that talented filmmakers make can be a classic, but it’s definitely worth programming a Dmytryk film, one of the 56 he directed, for your next viewing pleasure.