by Jay Dare
(Editors Note: this article is a reprint from Good Old Days, July 96 edition. It was given to me by Jay at the June meeting, for which I thank him. At the meeting Jay also gave me his complete notes used during his presentation which was unfortunately cut short due to time constraints. Ive transposed the notes to text and will probably print it in serial form in future issues something to look forward to.)
It was a hot muggy day on the beachhead of Camp Pendleton in California.
We were filming landing scenes, presumably of Bougainville or some other South Sea island held by the Japanese, for a picture titled Winged Victory, a 1943-1944 20th Century Fox production.
On hand were United States Marines from boot camp and fledgling pilots from nearby Santa Ana Air Base as extras for the war scenes. A group of recruits from the Army Entertainment Units were also fitted into some of the post-battle scenes.
I was a No. 2 costumer, riding herd over the hundreds of extras for the various battle scenes.
Carl Walker, the head wardrobeman, called me to a large wardrobe tent set up on a bluff out of range. Jay, there is a hospital scene being shot up in the jungle a half-mile from here. Take these two gowns, masks, hats and shoes to a couple of characters named George and Dutch who are playing the parts of Army surgeons a the hospital tent.
I understand the special effects department has built a road through the jungle and are wetting it down to be as muddy as possible, Walker said, so be careful with these all-white costumes.
Upon arriving at the make-believe hospital tent at the end of a very muddy makeshift road, I inquired of Marvin (the second assistant director) just who was going to play the Army doctors. Marvin said that George, who was standing just inside the hospital tent, was one, and Dutch, who was down the hill a ways talking with a bunch of Marines, was the other.
I got on the bullhorn and called Dutch to come up the hill for his doctors outfit.
He came up shortly and I quickly noticed that the white shoes and gown he had been given earlier in the day were already mud-stained. Being a bit out of sorts because of the terrific heat, mosquitoes, bugs and flies, plus the long walk up the makeshift road into the jungle, I snapped in rather harsh words, For Petes sake, Dutch, keep this outfit clean for the hospital scene!
About that time the director was ready to photograph the ambulances coming up the muddy road to unload casualties from the beach landing. Special effects started the rain machines to make the road even worse than it already was.
George, Dutch and I took cover in the hospital tent to keep dry. We discussed the realistic scenes of war and watched from the tent as one ambulance after another unloaded. Now and then the stretcher bearers would drop a soldier smack into a mud hole.
Finally we got around to the hospital scene and I left, telling Dutch, See that you keep your damn shoes clean.
Later, back at the studio for interior shots, whenever I would see Ditch Id ask in a kidding way, Did you keep your shoes clean back there in the jungle?
Time passed. The movie was finished, and the real war ended. Whatever happened to George and Dutch?
George Murphy eventually became a Unites States senator from California. Dutch did even better, as he became the president of the United States, Ronald Reagan.
snail mail: GCC, c/o Michael Kittle, P.O. Box 388, Agoura Hills, CA 91376-0388