Wartime Kiss: Visions of the Moment in the 1940's (Essays in by Alexander Nemerov

By Alexander Nemerov

Wartime Kiss is a private meditation at the haunting energy of yank pictures and flicks from international battle II and the later Nineteen Forties. beginning with a gorgeous reinterpretation of 1 of the main recognized images of all time, Alfred Eisenstaedt's photo of a sailor kissing a nurse in instances sq. on V-J Day, Alexander Nemerov is going directly to learn an array of usually forgotten pictures and picture episodes--from a photograph of Jimmy Stewart and Olivia de Havilland mendacity on a picnic blanket within the Santa Barbara hills to scenes from such movies as
Twelve O'Clock excessive and carry again the sunrise. Erotically charged and bearing strains of trauma even if they appear some distance faraway from the conflict, those pictures and scenes appear to carry out the promise of a palpable and emotional connection to these years.

Through a chain of interesting tales, Nemerov finds the extraordinary heritage of those bits of movie and discovers unforeseen connections among the warfare and Hollywood, from an obsession with aviation to Anne Frank's love of the flicks. fantastically written and illustrated, Wartime Kiss vividly conjures up an international within which Margaret Bourke-White may possibly keep on with a heroic project photographing a B-17 bombing project over Tunis with a task in Hollywood documenting the filming of a battle motion picture. eventually it is a booklet approximately historical past as a sensuous adventure, a piece as mysterious, indescribable, and affecting as a singular by way of W. G. Sebald.

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The land was cracked and dry, the occasion a little odd—­we can sense her tolerant bemusement at her boyfriend’s hobby—­but the experience 44 would have been as sensuous and immediate as the slice of watermelon Swope shows de Havilland biting into in four adjoining exposures. The sensation was still more pleasurable when Stewart took de Havilland up in his real airplane, flying her up and down southern California and out over the ocean.  . ” As she told Hall, “You can say that I have fallen in love—­with life.

So Stewart’s arm, suspended in the elixir pose of a dream, suggests a moment that in ending never ends. And so when I first saw and was enchanted by this picture, and when Mark Swope pulled the negative from its sleeve, lost time did play again: as though, even, no time here had ever been lost. Her eyes closed too, de Havilland remains in that infinite moment. Mitchell Leisen, who would be one of her favorite film directors in the 1940s, affectionately called her “Moonglow,” a fitting Midsummer Night’s Dream-­like term for how we see her in Swope’s photograph.

Planes like the little one he stares at were, in one sense, a sign of the increasingly militaristic times. To be “air-­minded,” in the argot of the 1930s, was not only to be a flying enthusiast but to be someone who understood the strategic importance of airplanes in the impending war that many people expected the United States would fight. Stewart had taken one of his airplane models with him to Hollywood in a custom-­ built case that looked to passengers and conductors like it held a machine gun, an unnerving package and a fit sign of 39 John Swope, James Stewart with Model Airplane, 1940.

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