Actors, filmmakers celebrate Saints and Soldiers franchise with roundtable discussion
The first “Saints and Soldiers” film originally received an R rating. Simpson was part of the group that flew to Los Angeles to appeal the rating. The film didn’t have a lot of blood, gore or profanity. The MPAA told the group the problem was “personalized violence” because “you feel the impact more because you care about the characters.” Simpson told the panel, “You would rather I show unconnected, disaffected violence to my son, rather than have him understand the consequences of his choices?” The MPAA changed the rating to PG-13.
Little said they entered the first “Saints and Soldiers” movie in 16 film festivals, and it won the grand prize in each one.
The first screening of “Saints and Soldiers” took place at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The theater was full of U.S. Naval officers in white uniforms and their wives. “We screened the film, the credits rolled and the entire audience stood and gave a standing ovation," Allred said. "It was overwhelming. That moment is one of the highlights of my career."
The second film, “Airborne Creed,” was originally titled “Foxhole.”
“The Void” was the most ambitious and expensive of the three films, due in part to the use of tanks. These World War II machines were located in Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona and were brought together for filming in Utah. They were the stars of the show, Little said. “They were crazy expensive and temperamental, just like actors can be,” he said. “Luckily, there were no major engine overhauls and no one got hurt.”
In order to embrace his role as an African-American soldier in World War II and better understand racism in “The Void,” Gerald chose to be the last cast member to eat lunch each day.
The core parts of all three movies were filmed in Alpine, Utah.
Afterward, all three actors expressed deep appreciation for the opportunity to be involved with the franchise.
"To honor these men and women, and to do it while having the best time of your life ... that is the thing I will always remember," Wade said. "I loved it. I loved the friendships that were made and the stories being told."
While each film contains wartime action scenes, what sets the Saints and Soldiers franchise apart is its focus on humanity amid conflicting circumstances, Little said.
"It's not just about killing people. We want to give audiences a roller-coaster ride, but behind the action, we must find a way to tell a human story about the characters and their personal struggles," Little said. "There has to be a human component."
"Ultimately, people pay $8 to be entertained, so we hope they are entertained," the producer said. "But we hope it leaves people with something to talk about. ... Who and what is American is written all over these films.”
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