Don Draper can make one hell of an old-fashioned, but classic cocktails were around long before the shark-suited Ad Men of the 1960s were roaming the offices of Madison Avenue in search of vulnerable young secretaries.
Men of the 1940s loved their booze, and whether that was an ice-cold bottle of spuds or a classy cocktail, they were well versed in the art of drink. What does this have to do with WWII reenacting you might ask? Well I’ll tell you. It’s just another small portion of becoming these men. The GIs knew their way around a bar long before they knew their way around a B.A.R. and while they might not have had too many chances to sip Manhattans in their foxholes, you can be damn sure they knew how to make one.
Also, this gives me a great excuse to drink on a Wednesday night, which is what I was really trying to accomplish.
So, I’m going to spend the next few minutes stirring, shaking and sharing my take on some classic cocktail recipes. God-willing I’ll come out the other end with some usable instructions for any reenacting friends who want to give this a shot themselves, although depending on how much quality testing I do this might be completely illegible by the last paragraph.
Anyhow, lets get started.
I’ll apologize in advance for my partisan bias towards whiskey, but there’s just nothing I can do about it. Vodka lovers, you’re on your own….
With that being said, here is my first cocktail recipe of the evening, none other than Don Draper’s old-faithful, the Old-Fashioned.
Rumored to have been invented in Louisville, Kentucky in the 1880s, the old-fashioned adheres to the original definition of a “cocktail,” meaning it includes a spirit and some form of bitters (we’ll get into those in a second). There is some level controversy about how to make a true old-fashioned and who knows what the real answer is, so I’ll just demonstrate my own method.
- 1 sugar cube
- 1 orange slice
- 1 maraschino cherry
- 2 oz. Whiskey (Usually bourbon, I prefer Rye)
- 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
- Splash of soda water
You’ll be starting by dropping the sugar cube, orange and cherry into the bottom of a rocks glass (also known as an old-fashioned glass). Then comes the angostura bitters. A small bottle of highly concentrated alcohol (45%), bitters are used in moderation to add flavor to a drink.
Not overly apparent when present in a drink, the lack of bitters in any cocktail whose recipe calls for them stands out like a sore thumb. So, a shoot a couple dashes of bitters on top of the aforementioned ingredients, and add a touch of soda water. Now comes the fun part, muddling the drink. More or less this means smashing the ingredients together until the sugar is mostly dissolved and the fruit is nice and juiced. After that we’re pretty much done. Add ice to the glass and top it off with your whiskey. Give it a stir and you’re ready to drink. There’s a real sweetness to this cocktail that masks the burn of the whiskey perfectly, and if one sugar cube isn’t enough then add another and try again!
Now on to drink number 2, the Manhattan.
As common sense might tell you, this drink originated in New York City and is estimated to be just slightly older than the old-fashioned, being mixed for the very first time in the 1870s. One of the most famous and recognizable cocktails in history, the Manhattan has remained constant throughout time as a classic drink.
- 2oz Whiskey (again, I prefer Rye)
- ¾oz sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes angostura bitters
- 1 maraschino cherry
The key to this drink is getting the proportions right, most notably the sweet vermouth. Too little and you might as well drink your whiskey straight, too much and your Manhattan will taste like grandma’s cough syrup. A little different than the old-fashioned, we’ll use a shaker and Hawthorne strainer to concoct this drink.
Begin by filling your shaker with ice and then adding your 2oz of whiskey. Throw 3/4 oz of sweet vermouth on top of that, add 2 dashes of bitters and your pretty much done.
All that’s left to do is give it a good stir, but however fun and classy it may seem, make sure to avoid shaking this drink. As a general rule, only shake drinks that contain some form of filler that isn’t alcoholic. Lemon juice, lime juice, eggs, you get the point. Since everything in our Manhattan has booze in it, simply forego the shaking and give it a solid stir. When that’s done slap your Hawthorne strainer on top of the shaker, pore into a chilled cocktail glass, add a maraschino cherry as garnish and you’re done. This drink is as simple as it gets, and in less than two minutes you can be enjoying a cocktail that likely saw action in most every urban bar in the country during the 1940s.
Now on to the final cocktail of the hour. Sadly, this is the last drink I will be demonstrating, but I can assure you this one is a ball to make. We’ll now switch from whiskey to gin as we learn how to make a Silver Gin Fizz.
The gin fizz, of which there are several variations, became an incredibly popular drink nationwide in the early part of the 20th century. A New Orleans specialty, this drink is a member of the Collins family (Tom Collins that is) and is widely regarded as a summer drink. As I said, we’ll be making the silver variation.
Silver Gin Fizz
- 3oz Gin
- ¾ oz lemon juice
- 1½ oz simple syrup
- 1 egg white
- Topped with club soda
That’s right, I said 1 egg white. You might be saying to yourself, no way in hell I’m drinking something with a raw egg in it, but I’ll personally vouch for the outstanding texture and flavor the egg gives this drink. I was skeptical at first too, but soon came to embrace the notion of chugging a raw egg. Plus including an egg automatically qualifies this drink as a substitute for breakfast.
We’ll begin by adding all of our ingredients (gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white) into your shaker. I’ll add that the easiest way to separate the white of the egg is to crack the shell in two and slowly transfer the egg from one half of the shell to the other, holding it over your shaker. Very carefully, the white will separate and fall into your strainer. Also, if you’re wondering, simple syrup is (simply) one part sugar and one part water, boiled until the sugar dissolves. It can be made easily at home by even the most accident-prone people (meaning me, heat and my fingers don’t get along well.)
The next step in our fizz process is to give the drink a good dry shake, meaning don’t add any ice to your shaker. After that’s done, add some ice and do it again, and this time really shake the hell out of it. When she’s nice and cold strain her into a tall Collins glass, top with a little soda water and you’re done!
Well there you have it. Three classic cocktails that any self-respecting GI could have ordered at the local jazz club before he shipped out. If you’re in need of a 1940s fix and the next event is months away, then thrown on your finest fedora, put on a little Benny Goodman, light up a lucky and try one of these dinks on for size. I’ll bet the effect is more than enough to get you to the next event without going into reenacting withdrawals, and after a few of them I’m sure you’ll be enjoying the jazz even more than you normally do.
Now, since I’ve had to test each one of these drinks as I explained them, I think it’s time for me to hit the sack.
What I would assume is a common trait amongst most WWII reenactors, I love the music of the era. Big Band, jazz, I love it all (although I can’t stand the Dixieland crap of the 20s, but that’s an entirely different debate). I begun my love affair with jazz when I stumbled upon a recording of “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree” at the age of 13 or 14 and have since jitterbugged my way further and further down the path of depression era tunes. Yet, I have only recently begun to discover the true power this music can have on one’s reenacting experience.
No generation was more influenced by music than those growing up and growing old in the 1930s and 40s. Actually, the children of the 1960s would have taken first prize in that contest, but I disqualified them for the use of music-enhancing drugs. Anyway, music was an enormous part of people’s lives during the depression and the seed that was planted in the 30s came to fruition during WWII.
A family’s radio was arguably their most important possession throughout the 1930s. It was their HBO, MTV, AMC, CNN and FOX all rolled into one. They had an intimate bond with the radio that today’s world doesn’t share with television. They trusted their radios, relied on them for much of their entertainment as well as news and had decidedly fewer alternatives for either of the previously mentioned categories. The radio brought life, and part of that life was music.
This was my first realization when I began to really appreciate WWII music. Until then, when I thought of Big Band music I imagined a sticky, smoke-filled nightclub in the heart of Chicago with flying skirts and famous gangsters. That’s what we see in the movies of course, a fast swing tune followed by the slow romantic number where Ben Affleck tells Kate Beckinsale he has to go fight for the Eagle Squadron. Pretty much standard. These places certainly existed before and during the war, but my mistake was thinking that was how most young people in the 30s and 40s got their music fix. I was sadly mistaken.
While the GIs were growing up they got their music from the radio, although where I come from it was more likely just an old man with 4 strings on his banjo and 5 teeth in this mouth, but I digress. They spent their youth listening to Fibber McGee and Molly, Little Orphan Annie and the best jazz the wireless had to offer.
So, years later when they were all in England and Italy and the Philippines their desire to hear Crosby and Goodman and Miller didn’t dwindle. It was a release, a way to go home for just a few minutes, the chance to think of something other than the war. They worshiped the radio and listened to it any chance they could get.
Now I’ll switch back to reenacting as I tell you to harness the power of this music and make it a substantial part of your impression. No matter what army you reenact, a solid knowledge of the era’s music and a sound appreciation for what a large part of the men’s lives it was is key. Know the music, and don’t be afraid to branch out. Sinatra is great, but so are Ornette Coleman, Dizzy Gillespie and Jelly Roll Morton. We have almost unlimited access to thousands and thousands of Mp3 files that can be had for pennies on the dollar (or for free if that’s your racket). Build up a solid library of these tunes and cater them to certain events. Find some French radio broadcasts for a Normandy or French occupation event, and throw in a couple of V-E Day broadcasts for a late war event. Whether you’re an American airborne unit sitting around in your tent waiting for the invasion to come or an SS unit holed up in a barn in Italy, break out the radio and tune it to your favorite channel (which is code for press play on your IPod).
In our hobby we are always searching for that ultimate feeling. The chill that runs down the back of your neck for 5 seconds as you think to yourself, “that’s what it must have felt like.” I can tell you that in my experience this feeling has almost always come while I was sitting in a dimly lit room sucking on a Lucky and quietly listening to “Body and Soul” or “Moonlight Cocktail.”
In the many nights I have spent sitting around a campfire crinkling my nose at the musty smell of a nearby GP medium, I would say that WWII films and TV shows rank amongst the most frequent of reenactor talking points. SPR authenticity mistakes, a handful of Oddball quotes and the never-ending Bill Guarnere impersonation attempts always seem to slither their way into the conversation at some point. Among the more recent discussions has been the debate on the now not so new HBO miniseries “The Pacific.” Criticisms of the series among the reenacting community are as numerous as they are diverse, but the most common complaint to fall on jeep cap covered ears is “well, it wasn’t Band of Brothers.”
‘ You’re right, it wasn’t. It’s not like it was (mostly) based on two individual memoirs, written about a different branch of the service who was fighting on the other side of the world against an enemy that couldn’t have been more physically or mentally different than those lining up against easy 506.
“But George Luz wasn’t even in it, I was waiting to quote ‘got a penny’ for 10 hours!”
Group from the TV show ‘Band of Brothers’
I get it. You saw the names Spielberg and Hanks on the same box and expected “the company of heroes” with cammo helmet covers. I myself nearly fell into this trap around half way through the first episode. “Wow, 20 minutes in and we’re in combat already? I don’t even know that guy’s name, and where the hell is that hill they had to run up during training?” I didn’t like it. The sense of comradery you felt while watching “Band of Brothers” in nothing but your boxers and steel pot while polishing your jump boots, was gone. The characters were far too vague. I damn near shut it off…. But I didn’t.
Still form ‘Band of Brothers.’ HBO Original Mini Series
Nine episodes later I pulled myself out from behind the couch, where I had been sitting for the last 10 hours grasping the stock of my carbine and munching on K rations while peering over the cushion to watch, and stood in amazement as the end credits rolled by. I might have even cried (although if you ever ask me that face-to-face I will deny it wholeheartedly). I was now already contemplating how I was going to afford a Marine Corps impression, not to mention being hopelessly and progressively in love with Sid Phillips’ Australian girlfriend.
That being said, I was not completely void of criticism. The storyline was occasionally hard to follow and some of Joe Mazzelo’s (Eugene Sledge) acting was reminiscent of my high school’s production of “The Grimm Brothers Spectac-u-lathon.” But, my friend, if you say that it wasn’t Band of Brothers, then I will say good. It wasn’t supposed to be. Much of that argument has been based upon the fact that it just wasn’t as “personal” as BoB, and I would argue the contrary. This series might not give us an exclusive membership into one the most close-knit groups of men to ever walk the earth, but it does let us into the heads and the hearts of the average 20-year-old kid that was swept in to the tragedy we know as the Second World War. Too depressing? You’re right.
But my point in all of this is that this series really lets us see what the individual soldier went though, not what a group of men experienced. “Band of Brothers” was not completely without personal stories, but I feel like “The Pacific” brought it out just a bit more efficiently.
I met a vet once on a plane going from Washington DC to Sioux Falls, SD. We spoke only briefly before he finished his small bag of pretzels and dozed off in the window seat. But during our 5-minute conversation he told me he was a replacement with the 29th Infantry division, and had caught up with them just outside of St. Lo. He was in combat for a grand-total of 1 week before being wounded and sent home. 7 days. I often think about what his experience of the war must have been like, compared to something like “Band of Brothers.”He would have trained in the states of course and gotten to know a number of guys during his time there. But most replacements by that time in the war were simply sent to repo depos once they got overseas, then split up and assigned wherever they were needed. So there’s a good chance he only knew those he was in combat with for a week. Contrast that with the nearly 2 years the 506th spent training together before seeing combat and you have a dramatically different experience.
“The Pacific” brings this out this portion of the war very well. They felt close to all those they fought with (due to the intensity of what every one of them experienced), but more than anything they were individuals who just wanted to get the hell out of there and go back to their lives. Many of them (my grandfather included) were not at all close to the men they fought alongside once they got home, and quite a few of them (my grandpa also falls into this group) never saw any of the guys again for the rest of their lives. Now just to make it clear, I am by no means hating on “Band of Brothers.” I have worn out about 4 DVD copies of it now, and practice my “Wild Bill” every night in front of the mirror (it’s not going well). I simply wanted to shed a little light on the Pacific vs. BoB match-up and let everyone in on how I feel.
But mostly I wanted to talk about that Australian girl. If anyone knows her let me know, I am not beyond stalking
Well I am back on the old blog to happily report some fun and exciting news for my official www.ManTheLine.com’s WWII Internet Web Series Pilot. “WUNDERLAND” has been selected and will be premiering at the South Dakota Film Festival. “Wunderland” a short narrative pilot directed by my good friend Andrew Kightlinger and is an official selection. Set in WWII during the Battle of The Bulge, ‘Wunderland,’ follows a squad of US soldiers and their dedicated officer as they fend off the brutal onslaught of German attackers.
I have also been informed by the festival programmers that “Wunderland” has won an award, so I am looking forward to seeing what we won. If you have not had a chance to see all of the exciting news about the Series or the film check out our facebook page and giving us a like by clinkinghere.
In addition a few shorts scenes of the film can be seen on youtube, please check them out below:
or for some fun Behind the Scenes footage, check out this video as well:
I am hopping that this is the beginning of a successful festival and promotional run for my WWII web Series. I would also like to thank members of the WWII reenacting groups the 12th SS, 502nd 101st and the 508th 82nd, units out of Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa. I could not have made this project from all of their hard work and dedication.
Hopefully the pilot will lead to financing for the whole web series project, So get your boots ready for the reenactor’s casting call , because I would like to get anyone and everyone who is interested involved in the project. As always I will keep you posted and up to date with what is happening with “Wunderland!”
WWII reenacting is a strange hobby, the uninformed population and media tries to explain us away with such hot button titles as “gun-nuts,” “neo-type warmongers,” “weekend warriors,” etc. But how does one explain what the hobby is to an interested person in a one-on-one situation?
WWII reenacting is what you make of it. This is a hobby (keep that in mind) where modern-day men (and a few women) attempt to recreate the WWII-period as best as they can with varying degrees of success.
It doesn’t matter if you do Viking, Roman Legion, RevWar, 1812, Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Nam, or any of the other periods currently being done. You WILL encounter individuals who will be helpful and nice as you begin to collect the needed gear, uniforms, and weapons needed to participate in whatever event your “unit” decides to attend.
You will also encounter some of the most pigheaded, stupid fools on the planet in this hobby of reenacting history (WWII reenacting is not alone in this; this problem is in every period of reenacting). You will quickly figure out those who you wish to be with.
This is an expensive hobby, far more so now then it was 20 years ago. Authenticity has improved, but the result has driven up the costs as well. What was good then is now considered unacceptable in many circles. Check and double-check before buying something for reenacting. Just because a dealer says, “It’s perfect for reenacting,” doesn’t make it so.
Start with an easy impression. Don’t go crazy and spend thousands of dollars (which is easier than you think) on an impression that you later wish you hadn’t because you will never get your full money back.
Easy impressions are Russian, Partisan, GI infantry, British infantry and German infantry. These impressions are somewhat “generic” and you can move from one unit to another (GI to GI, Russian to Russian, etc.) without too much problem.
Hard and expensive impressions are Waffen-SS, Airborne (of any country), many of the minor Allied and Axis forces, and the armored force of any nation (you will need a vehicle for this). The first two require specialized uniforms, equipment and sometimes weapons to do this properly.
Weapons will add a new dimension to your new hobby. Guns are NOT toys! They are not cheap (except for those doing Russian/Partisan) and can put a major dent in your wallet. Once again, check and double-check prior to buying.
A vehicle (either soft-skin or armored) is an even bigger step into the hobby. These will run in cost even higher than most weapons. It will be a major investment into the hobby for you.
It is best to join (at first) a local unit that does what you’re looking for. The best way to find units is either on this board or on the unit listing that is linked through the At the Front (a well-known dealer) website. Talk to the unit members (face to face is best) and find out if this unit is what you want in both authenticity and friendship. Shop around.
3. Levels of Authenticity
This may be the single biggest problem you will encounter in this hobby. Each unit and organization will have varying degrees of authenticity and standards of enforcing them. Check before joining. Regardless if the unit is hard-core or farby, it’s your dollar and your time, and you don’t have to join them if the level of authenticity doesn’t fit your desires.
Remember, this is a hobby, not the real military. No one is forcing you to join and no one is forcing you to stay. Hobbies are meant to be fun, and WWII reenacting is one of the most enjoyable hobbies on this planet.
In closing, this is a good stepping-stone to explain at first what the hobby will entail. Add on parts that will cover what the difference(s) in both tactical and public-display events. Make it understandable for the average Joe. Don’t use terms that a non-military person won’t understand. Keep it simple.
Jay Sproat is a WWII reenactor with over 25+ years in the hobby. A graduate in Historic Preservation, he was one of the three founders of the original TSG and has been an editor of several WWII reenacting organizations newsletters/magazines. He resides in Missouri and works for the Department of Defense.
WANTED TO DO ANOTHER QUICK FILM UPDATE, IF YOU GET A CHANCE PLEASE CHECK OUT THE FILM SAINTS AND SOLDIERS: AIRBORNE CREED. FROM THE SAME DIRECTOR, RYAN LITTLE, WHO MADE SAINTS AND SOLDIERS. MY GOOD FRIEND RAYMOND MELDRUM HELPED MAKE THE FILM AS WELL AS A LOT OF GOOD WWII REENACTORS.
SAS: AIRBORNE CREED (YES I DID JUST GIVE IT AN ANAGRAM). Story line is as follows: On August 15, 1944 the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team (PRCT) jumped over the south of France. Their mission was to support and protect the Allied Troops marching to Berlin. Landing in enemy territory, they fell under immediate attack. In their effort to complete the mission and rendez-vous with their unit, three isolated paratroopers come across a group of French resistants in desperate need. They decide to help liberate some of the captive Partisans. Doing so they risk their lives in an effort to live the Airborne Creed.
I am very much looking forward to checking this one out, as it will be coming out soon, sometime at the end of this year. So below is the Trailer, check it out, then visit their facebook page at
http://www.facebook.com/airbornecreed give them a like
or check out their website www.airbornecreed.com
ONn a sidenote, I will be featuring several guest bloggers, they will be doing different reviews on WWII history, WWII reenacting and probably anything that comes to their minds Yes it is dangerous to hand over the reins of such a precious blog operation like we have here on ManTheLine.com but I trust these gentlemen and women will do a find job
Also, will be stocking up on some WWII German M40 Tunics, M42 helmets, The famous ManTheLine LOW BOOTS, and various other new and exclusive ManTheLine Products, and as always we constantly update the WWII reenactors Used pages, so check the website often for some great deals on some great items. This last week I had an exclusive 15 percent off an order only for people subscribed to my mailing list, so if you are not on it…Sign up now! lower right hand side at
I offer exculsive deals and promos for people on it!
If there is something that you want us to write about, WWII product, WWII reenacting event, movie, show, thoughts ideas, submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org or post a reply below. we love hearing from you guys!
SO until next time! Peace and stay true to the blue!
I wanted to do a quick blog about a WWII short film I have been apart of for the past couple of months called “Menschen.” The film is an Austrian/ USA Co-Production that ManTheLine.com and Schuetzle Company Productions have graciously been able to be apart of.
“Menschen” is German for “human beings”. The film follows an Austrian Captain attempting to lead his men behind the Russian lines to surrender to the Americans, while along the way they take a developmentally disabled boy under their wing. The film takes the viewer on an emotional and intense journey through the trenches of time into a reality that is rarely showcased, and into a reality that plays like a dream that no one wishes they ever had.
I have posted the trailer below, please check it out and if you get a chance please check out there facebook page and like them at
Wanted to share a little bit about this past weekend’s Granite Falls, MN Airshow, hosted by Fagen Fighters & Warhawks Inc. I was so lucky to attend such a great event. The planes were amazing and the WWII public airfield battle was one of the best public battles I have participated in.
An audience of about 5,000 was on hand for the event named in memory of World War II 4th Infantry Division Army veteran, Ray Fagen, and held in tribute to the greatest generation of Americans during the 20th century’s darkest hour.
“We have an incredible lineup of performers and World War II aircrafts, said Diane Fagen.
Gates opened at 11:00 a.m. provided access to the airport grounds’ merchandise venues and WWII exhibits. Real triple ace fighter pilot, Col. Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson, was on site signing books. Food and drink was available throughout day and catered locally by Bootlegger’s Supper Club and Dallas II as well as Wurst Machers, of rural Morris.
At 1:00 p.m. My favorite part, the ground battle reenactment of U.S., British and German World War II soldiers and vehicles. Of course the GIs won the day, but the German’s led my MN very own 12th SS, led a heroic defense of the airfield. The airshow started at 3 and included performances by the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, a parachute jump from a C-47 by the Liberty Jump Team and bombing runs with live pyrotechnics. A myriad of WWII-era warbirds were in action, including an authentic Japanese Zero, of which there are only three in the world.
Overall, I would say it was an event that will be in the highlight of these summer’s events I attend. For more cool photos please check out my facebook page www.facebook.com/mantheline
As always stay classy and until next time…BUY @ MANTHELINE.COM :) shamless plug!
Wanted to share a little update, the film ‘Memorial Day’ is finally out on DVD and Blu-release, Variety Magazine had this to say about the movie.
Earnest and involving tribute to two generations of U.S. military personnel, “Memorial Day” will work best in ancillary platforms where the stateliness of its pacing can be alleviated by judicious pressings of the pause button, or the occasional break for commercials. Pic is set for a handful of theatrical dates — during, appropriately enough, the Memorial Day holiday weekend — before a May 29 homevideo release.
Structured by scripter Marc Conklin more or less as a series of time-tripping flashbacks, the indie drama smoothly zigzags among three different periods. While recovering from wounds in a military hospital circa 2005, Sgt. Kyle Vogel (Jonathan Bennett) recalls a fateful Memorial Day in 1993, when his gruff but loving grandfather (James Cromwell) spent a long afternoon reluctantly regaling young Kyle (Jackson Bond) with stories of his WWII service. The most traumatic of these experiences are dramatized with John Cromwell (James’ son) appearing as Lt. Bud Vogel, as natural-born leader who struggles, with mixed success, to protect his men, and remain true to his moral code, even in the heat of combat.
Periodically, the narrative hops back to the Iraq War period, as the hospitalized Sgt. Vogel does his own bit of self-unburdening while telling a sympathetic doctor (Emily Fradenburgh) about his grandfather, the old man’s war stories, and the sergeant’s own bloody experiences in a war where the enemy arguably is more difficult to identify and fight.
Director Sam Fischer deserves credit for keeping the storyline clear and the timeframes untangled, and for devising aptly different visual styles to differentiate between the cleanly staged action of the WWII battle scenes and the more frenetic and confusing Iraq War episodes. Whether deliberately or otherwise, Fischer and lenser Bo Hakala give a WWII encounter in 1944 Belgium a wintery look that vividly evokes William A. Wellman’s 1949 classic “Battleground.”
Performances range from adequate to inspired, with James Cromwell claiming the pic’s top acting honors as the aged Bud Vogel, an upright fellow who’s given to forgetfulness in his dotage — but who dredges up painful recollections, apparently through sheer force of will, to preserve the memories of comrades he lost and, perhaps more important, inspire his attentive grandson.
“Memorial Day” builds to what seems like a satisfying emotional climax a good 20 minutes before it actually ends, which has the rather unfortunate effect of making everything that follows feel slightly anticlimactic. On other hand, the pic introduces some provocative ambiguity in its final section by hinting that Sgt. Vogel may forever harbor at least some regret for taking his grandfather’s lessons to heart.
To its credit, the pic displays equal respect to both WWII and Iraq War vets. Still, some auds may question the conspicuous absence of any reference to military service by Kyle’s largely unseen father, who presumably would have been of age to serve in Vietnam.
Despite some occasionally clunky dialogue, “Memorial Day” registers as a solidly crafted indie drama that might become an annual staple on a cable TV network or two. Production values are sharp, while various Minnesota locales double for European and Iraq settings with an impressive degree of persuasiveness.
Camera (color), Bo Hakala; editor, Bill Rammer; music, Paul Hartwig; production designer, Mark Wojahn; art director, Lindsey Koens; sound, Matthew Freed; stunt coordinator, Jason Hilton; associate producers, Cleave Frink, Peter Etzweller; casting, Antonette Trussoni. Reviewed on DVD, Houston, May 24, 2012. Running time: 107 MIN.
I was very honored and excited to be asked to be apart of the festivities to premiere it at a Minnesota Twins baseball game. It was really awesome to see the trailer on the big jumbo screen and to meet up again with a lot of the cast and crew. Thanks to everyone for making the event so much fun! Please go check out the movie when you get a chance. It can be purchased at WalMart or rented at your local Mr. Movies or Redbox!