Where did "The Uniform" come from?
Updated: Aug 3, 2022
Though my screenwriting bona fides were modest--a spec sale to a studio and a handful of script assignments--I figured a clockwork thriller with a compelling logline might persuade someone from my meager list of movie-industry contacts to jump in. I misjudged. My former agent found an instance of humor in the script to be out of tone with a Holocaust-themed story. Other producer acquaintances had their own World War II stories in the movie pipeline. And, let's be honest, there had been no shortage of films about Jewish victims of the Nazis. Hollywood had apparently had enough.
But this was no run-of-the-mill Jewish victimology. It was a Rififi-style caper, a thriller and an entertainment. Did it have Jewish victims? Sure. How do you make as movie in which SS officers play prominent roles without victims, usually of the Hebraic persuasion?
I dug the improbability of my hero's challenge--a lead character utterly without resources (except brain-power). facing an enemy with the backing of an all-powerful state machinery.
Besides, I had based the script on my father's experience as a labor camp prisoner during the Second World War. I loved the long odds of my hero's challenge--and the small-scale advances he figured out on his impossible journey. The interior canvas included property confiscations and social climbing among the nazi families, all vital story elements.
So, I reconfigured the narrative as a novel. A gripping story with fleshy characters and serious themes, I discovered, work just as well in print as on a movie screen. It gave me the time to explore the thematic meaning of uniforms not to mention rank and self-dealing in the political class. I think of it as a movie that streams inside your skull.