Film director Robert Parrish wrote two books in an attempt to cover his adventures in the movies and the journeys they led him on throughout his life. The first book Growing Up In Hollywood written in 1976 covers a wide range of topics that would make any film buff jealous. Just imagine as a child sneaking onto a movie backlot only to have Douglas Fairbanks show you how he rode the sail in The Black Pirate or share a scene with Charlie Chaplin in City Lights. Parrish became an extra as a child appearing in Our Gang comedies, DeMille’s The Crusades to becoming a regular in John Ford films. Ford would call the Parrish household and request Mrs. Parrish send over the kids when he needed children in the background. Tell me that doesn’t make you jealous!
For John Ford buffs this and the follow up book Hollywood Doesn’t Live Here Anymore written in 1988 are must reads. Parrish would tell Ford he wanted to be a director and Ford took him under his wing including enlisting him during his military service in WW 2 as a member of Ford’s division in the OSS. Following his dream of directing Parrish would become a first rate editor earning an Oscar for his work on Body and Soul as well as a nomination on All The King’s Men. Between the two books there are plenty of amusing tales of his Tinseltown adventures and the characters he crossed paths with from Hemingway to Sam Spiegel to Peter Sellers.
Parrish would direct films from Cry Danger in 1951 to his last The Destructors in 1974. In between there was Fire Down Belowand The Purple Plain among others and he worked with some major stars of the day like Mitchum and Hayworth. If I had any complaints it would be that I wish he had talked more about the films and stars he did direct like Robert Taylor, James Coburn or Richard Widmark. But once again it all comes back to John Ford and his influence and helping hand in shaping Parrish along life’s path. The books are probably out of print but if you find a copy the volumes make for a nice light read about one man’s adventures in Hollywood’s heyday as well as a look at WW 2 from a different point of view.