CelebVet: Oliver Stone, Film Director

Oliver Stone

Hollywood director Oliver Stone always had a passion for filmmaking, a passion which sometimes ended up painting him as a badboy. Oliver Stone's films often question the role of politicians, military brass and big business. But as the former Purple Heart/Bronze star soldier enters this year’s hot summer movie season, he may find himself best known for a World Trade Center movie blockbuster that touches the hearts of all Americans.

“World Trade Center” is the true story of the heroic survival and rescue of two Port Authority policemen – John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno – who were trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, after they went in to help people escape. The film also follows their families as they try to find out what happened to them, as well as the rescuers who found them in the debris field and pulled them out.

Paramount Pictures and Stone have earmarked 10 percent of all US theater ticket sales to be donated to 9/11 survivor charities. The film stars Nicholas Cage, Michael Pena, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

“We show people being killed, and we show people who are not killed, and the fine line that divides them,” Stone told the New York Times recently. “How many men saved those two lives? Hundreds. These guys went into that twisted mass, and it very clearly could've fallen down on them, and struggled all night for hours to get them out.”

“What Stone has done, though, is make a real war movie with the World Trade Center as a battlefield. In that way, it invites comparison to his best war film, "Platoon," as “the Port Authority cops are instantly turned into soldiers who know they may not be coming home,” said Roger Friedman in a FoxNews review.

Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Hollywood Lights
Born in New York City on September 15, 1946, Stone grew up nurturing his love of films. His father Louis Stone was a stockbroker on Wall Street who met his mother in France during WWII as an aide to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

After a year at Yale, he dropped out and moved to Vietnam, where he taught English for a year. Oliver Stone's military service began in 1967 when he, like thousands of other men during that decade, enlisted in the military and went to Vietnam. Stone received both a Bronze Star and Purple Heart during his year of service with the 25th Infantry Division. Upon his return from Vietnam, Stone enrolled at New York University thanks to the GI Bill, where he studied filmmaking under Martin Scorsese.

Early in his career, he even worked as a cab driver to make ends meet, and eventually landed his first big break, when he won his first Academy Award for his film adaptation of Midnight Express; in 1978. And while he was fashioning an eminently successful career as a screenwriter - among his credits are Conan the BarbarianScarfaceYear of the Dragon, and 8 Million Ways to Die - he first found success as a director in 1986 of Salvador.

Yet it was his work on Platoon, released the same year, however, that catapulted him into the upper echelons of the film world. His service as a grunt became the basis for Platoon. Stone had written the script for Platoon a decade earlier to tell a story about the Vietnam war - his Vietnam War, and the first in his own Vietnam film triology.

The film, which starred Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, and Willem Dafoe, was named Best Picture of the Year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that year. Stone was also accorded his first Oscar as Best Director. Platoon was a success at the box office as well, grossing some $250 million worldwide.

Image Credit: http://dcfilminstitute.org/oliver-stone-in-person/

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