June 9, 2010

Joseph Strick, Oscar Winner for 'Interviews with My Lai Veterans,' Dies at 86

Although he was best known for tackling such seemingly unfilmable works of literature as James Joyce's Ulysses, Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer and Jean Genet's The Balcony, Joseph Strick did earn an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 1971 for Interviews with My
Lai Veterans
. He died June 1 in Paris of congested heart failure at age 86.

According to an obituary in the Los Angeles Times, Strick was an aerial photographer for the US Army during World
War II. His first film, the 1948 documentary Muscle Beach, profiled body builders in Southern California. In the 1950s, he collaborated with Ben Maddow and Sidney Meyers on the experimental documentary The Savage Eye, about a young divorced woman attempting to start a new life. The film won the British
Academy of Film and Television Arts' Robert J. Flaherty Award for Best Documentary.

Cinematographer Haskell Wexler, who shot both The Savage Eye and Interviews with My Lai Veterans, told the Los Angeles Times, "Joe was interested in looking at the underside of things. You see that he is a maverick and was never a conventional filmmaker. You have to make your own judgment about the films that he's made. I found them all very interesting and inventive content-wise, if not in style."

Interviews with My Lai Veterans features US Soldiers who were present at the infamous 1968
My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.