July 29, 2017

2:20 - whoa

A New Yorker who moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1950s, Mr. Nathanson was writing for magazines, often about the military, when a neighbor in Hollywood Hills told him a story that would evolve into his first novel. The neighbor was Russ Meyer, the filmmaker who later became known as King Leer for directing soft-core films featuring big-breasted women. Meyer, who died in 2004, had been a combat photographer and cameraman during World War II, and he recounted an episode at an Army stockade in England in which he shot a company of prisoners who were training, he was told, for a top secret mission behind enemy lines just before D-Day.

Mr. Nathanson was intrigued, and he set about doing the research for what he imagined would be a nonfiction book about the company. Unable to confirm that such a company existed, he nonetheless found a trove of information in court-martial transcripts and other documents about the men in Army stockades during the war. From these, he created the characters for a novel that he called “The Dirty Dozen,” the title referring to a collective refusal to bathe or shave during training.

The company in the novel did bear a resemblance to a group known as the Filthy 13, a band of rambunctious, authority-defying paratroopers who were far better known for drinking than for washing up, who were in and out of the stockade, and who landed behind German lines just before the invasion of Normandy. They were not, however, the murderers, rapists and borderline madmen depicted by Mr. Nathanson, who always contended that his book was based on Meyer’s initial tale and his own imagination.

“Powerfully prosaic,” as Kirkus Reviews called it, “The Dirty Dozen” reportedly sold more than two million copies.



Blogger VMM said...

Hardly a year goes by that I don't recommend this to a younger man who hasn't seen it.

July 29, 2017 at 4:53 PM  

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