The Young Fighter

Tom Hurwitz director of photography

If I were to choose one of my father’s films as an ‘invisible film,’ I would choose “The Young Fighter,” 1953. Although it was seen on television in the US in 1953 as part of the Omnibus program, it is hardly ever acknowledged as the seminal work that it was. It was the first film to use portable sync sound equipment to film real life, documentary dialogue scenes. As such, it was the first ‘cinéma vérité’ film, and a very good short film at that. Several years later, it was influential in persuading the Robert Drew Unit at Time-Life Films that uniquely powerful films could be made with that technique, and to fund the engineering work of Leacock and Pennebaker in creating the first light-weight, “silent.” sync-sound cameras. It took years for directors and editors to learn to edit ‘direct cinema’ material with the skill and continuity that Leo attained in “The Young Fighter.”