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'Kangaroo' producer is coming
here by camp trailer
by ZELIE McLEOD
LEWIS Milestone, top-flight American film producer who is in Australia to make 'Kangaroo,' a Technicolor movie for 20th Century-Fox, tried to come to Australia from Germany 3? years ago; but he couldn't afford the fare so he went to America instead.
' At that time he was a practically penniless 18year old Russian youth intent on seeing the wdrld. Now he is a mature man in his early 50 's with a string of first-class films and two Academy Awards to bis credit. vJilUestone isn't the least like the popular idea of an Ameri can high-pressure movie pro ducer. He doesn't wear pecu liar clothes, shout, wave his arms, use extravagant language, or bawl down incessantly ring Ing telephones. He is a quiet, composed man of medium height, with a heavily built body.
He looks 15 years younger than his age. His light-blue eyes have an engaging glint most women would find provo cative. His dark, thick hair grows in a pronounced widow's peak on his forehead. When he laughs he gives away the secret of his youth ful appearance— he looks like a merry, prankish lad ready for any lark thatrs going. When I interviewed him in Sydney he wore a plain brown business suit and an unspec tacular tie. During the inter view the phone rang only once. While he spoke about his early life and how he broke into Hollywood he sat easily in a chair smoking one cigarette
after another. But when he started to talk about the film he will make here he got rest less and prowled round the room. He gave the impression he doesn't like this preliminary period of inactivity and wants to get on his way to Port Augusta, where most of the out door shots will be filmed. He plans to drive to Port Augusta and camp in a trailer on the way so that he can get to know the country, especially the country pubs — he's heard about them. Milestone says his successful career resulted from a series of accidents. 'I was always plan ning to do one thing and end
ing up doing something else,' he explains. He was born at the Russian Black Sea port of Odessa in 1895. His father, Emmanuel Milstein, was in the wholesale clothing business. The cele brated violinist Nathan Milstein is his cousin. 'I was one of seven children, and by the time I was 17 years old I began to feel I wanted more elbow room,' said Mile stone, pushing his elbows away from his body to illustrate how cramped he felt as a youth. 'My father wanted me to be an engineer, but I was more interested in the theatre. From the time I was 14 years old I spent most of my time hanging rcund theatres.' But Emmanuel Milstein was a determined man, and in 1913 packed the 17-year-oM Lewis off to a German engineering school at Mitweide, Saxony. 'I'd been there a year when the Christmas holidays came rcund and my parents foolishly sent me money for my fare back to Russia to spend the holidays with them,' said Mile stone. - 'But instead I decided, with two Russian friends of mine who were also at the school, to use the money to pay our three fares to Australia, which seemed a fascinating place to us because it was so far away.' But the fare to Australia was too expensive. So they decided to go to America. 'Our idea was Just to spend a week there, see the place, and return to Europe. But things turned out differently,' said Milestone.
'We had Russian passports, of course. At that time Russia was having a bad epidemic of cholera and the shipping authorities were wary of all people travelling with Russian papers. So, although we had been out of Russia for a year, they put us in with the steer age passengers. 'After we sailed we protested and explained the situation. We were allowed to move up to third class, but the extra fare took all our cash. 'We landed in New York with six dollars among the three of us' The three lads spent their first night in America sleeping in Central Park. In the morn ing Lewis remembered he had an aunt living somewhere in New York. 'With the help of police and taxi drivers we eventually found her. I immediately bor rowed 100 dollars from her which I split with my friends. I gave them 50 dollars and kept 50 myself,' he said. That was early in 1914. After knocking round New York for several weeks Lewis gaily wrote to his father for money to pay his passage back to Europe. 'My father replied that he understood America was a land of liberty and labor and, as I had got my liberty, I'd better get some work,' said Milestone. 'In the first year I guess I had 100 jobs — all menial jobs In factories. Then I landed a job with a photographer. We branched out into home photo graphs. 'Home photography was something new. We did well. I suppose we photographed most of the richest people in New York. I worked only five months out of every 12, and made be tween 25,000 and 30,000 dollars a year.' This was a fabulous income for a lad just turning 21, but the job bored Milestone. In 1917, when America declared war .on Germany, Milestone rushed to join up. Then came another 'acci- dent' which pushed Milestone along the road to success in the movie world. 'When I was wandering round a recruiting office trying to decide what section of the Army I'd join I saw a big white banner with red lettering say ing, 'Six weeks and over',' he explained. 'I made inquiries and found the sign meant six weeks' train ing and then over to the front in France. I decided to join the section at once. Later, I dis
MILESTONE . . . covered it was the Motion Pic ture Division of the Photogra phic Corps. 'But I never did get overseas. Anyone who has been in an army will understand how those things happen. But I met and worked with men experiencea In the film industry like Josef von Sternberg and Richard Wallace. After the war I de cided to go to Hollywood my self.' Lewis Milestone arrived in Hollywood during December, 1919, and took a job in the cutting-room of J. D. Hampton, an independent producer. He patched film, swept floors, and ran errands for 20 dollars a week. This was a big change from his pre-war standard of living, but he liked the job. He made up bis mind to build a career in films. He rose from assistant cutter to head cutter and worked with several big producers, including one valuable year with Thomas H. Ince. Ince had an extraordinary knowledge of motion-picture technique. Milestone was an enthusiastic learner. As a producer and director, Milestone has a great capacity for making his characters human and getting drama into his films without using trite, obvious methods.
. un-Hollywoodish % Many film critics believe this , capacity stems largely from the ; experience he gained working with Ince. Then Warner Bros, made a film about a dog. It looked like being a flop until Milestone got at it in the - cutting-room and by skilful , cutting turned it into first-class entertainment. The film was* 'Where the North Begins' and! it starred for the first time the ] famous dog Rin Tin Tin. ' In 1925, Darryl Zanuck, now ' head of 20th Century-Fox, was starting to make his way in Hollywood. He wrote two scripts for Warner Bros., 'The Seven Sinners' and 'Cave Man ' Milestone directed both these pictures. In 1927, only eight years after Milestone arrived in Hollywood, 1 he won his first Academy; Award with 'Two Arabian Knights,' a war comedy. I In 1929-30 Milestone won his - second Academy Award with the great film of World War I., - 'All Quiet on the Western i Front,' based on Erich! Remarque's famous novel. i By this time he was fully ln-j his stride as a director and pro-* ducer with a flair for getting unusual effects by simple meth^ ods. (Continued on Page 1)