Sometimes there’s a great notion. Consider the soon-to-be released film documentary, “Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen.” Written, directed and produced by John Mulholland and executive produced by MODA Entertainment, New York City, the film evolved from Mulholland’s newspaper article about the famed actor and author which appeared in 2001 in the Idaho Press Tribune. The film, to be released late 2006, and at the Hemingway Festival in Sun Valley, has spawned a website and companion book by MODA Entertainment. Both will hit the market 2006 to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the actor’s and author’s demise, a mere seven weeks apart back in 1961.
While the film concentrates on the little-known friendship of Gary Cooper and Ernest Hemingway, it also covers areas of their lives apart from one another.
“Today, almost 45 years after their deaths, their intriguing friendship continues to resonate on fascinating and diverse levels,” said Mulholland, a New York City-based writer/director whose other film documentary credits include ‘Eastern European Composers’ (A&E), ‘Macbeth’ (A&E), and ‘Faulkner’ (PBS). Also written and directed by Mr. Mulholland: ‘Inside High Noon’ for Paramount, a documentary on the behind the scenes controversy during the filming of High Noon; and ‘The Making of Sergeant York’ for Warner Home Video. Among his other documentaries are: Liza Minnelli on ‘Meet me in St. Louis’, Reflections on ‘Gaslight’ with Angela Lansbury and As Time Goes By: The Children Remember on Casablanca.
“Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen” explored what it was in their backgrounds that enabled two men so seemingly different—politically, intellectually, personally—to become such close friends from the day that they met until their deaths 20 years later.
In researching the work and focusing on their artistic legacies, Mulholland, a longtime follower of the work of both men, formed some definite opinions along the way:
“Cooper, more than any other actors before or since, personified on screen the ideal Hemingway hero, ‘grace under pressure.’ Hemingway wrote some of his finest heroes as if he had Gary Cooper in mind. And Cooper performed some of his finest work when acting the Hemingway hero in films, ‘For Whom The Bells Toll,’ and ‘A Farewell To Arms’.”
In addition to their influence on each other, the feature length film examines why, today, so many years after their deaths, their friendship and the classic hero they brought to film and literature continues to fascinate millions of viewers and readers.
Mulholland sees the popularity of the classic Cooper/Hemingway hero thriving as Americans are looking back to another time to understand what real heroism is, and to come to grips with what courage means in the face of impossible odds.
“Stephen Spielberg’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’,” he notes, “was based on Stephen Ambrose’s ‘Citizen Soldiers’—both are prime examples of the classic Cooper/Hemingway hero.”
Similarly, “Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen,” is a reality-based film about adventure, survival, heroes, masculinity, and most importantly friendship. Those appearing in the film to recount their remembrances of the actor and author include:
Rene Villarreal (who worked for Hemingway in Cuba for 20 years and also knew Cooper); Donald B. Hyatt (the producer/director of Cooper’s last performance, “The Real West”); novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard; actress Patricia Neal. Also, Kirk Douglas, Robert Stack; Charlton Heston, David Brown, George Plimpton; Bud Schulberg; Brian Garfield; Robert Osborne and over 40 others.
The feature documentary is narrated by Sam Waterston and consultants for the film are Maria Cooper Janis, for Gary Cooper Estate; and Patrick Hemingway for the Ernest Hemingway Estate.
The related website has, as one of its special features, the General Forum, featuring international dialogue on Cooper, Hemingway, film, literature, history, pop culture, and the film documentary.
The thought-provoking and impassioned comments come from a diverse cross-section of students, professors, scholars, filmmakers, film lovers, and book lovers of all ages from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia.
The marketing campaign, to be launched in late 2006 includes among other things, a companion picture book on the making of the film; plus related posters, postcards, and calendars.
Founded in 1997, MODA Entertainment, Inc., headquartered in New York City, is a full service multi-media entertainment company involved in development, production, packaging, marketing, distributing, licensing in all on and offline media. MODA Entertainment’s subsidiaries include MODA Productions, MODA Publishing, LICENSEBOX, and PUBLICITYBOX.