A Filmmaker's Journal

Sumner Jules Glimcher’s A Filmmaker’s Journal” is a fascinating personal biography of creativity and multiple accomplishments. Following his miraculous survival after his being wounded during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge, he then spent a year in Military Government as an Interpreter, Investigator and Prosecutor sending NAZIs to Nuremberg. His subsequent professional career in education at three of the nation’s top universities (Harvard, Columbia and NYU), and as a documentary filmmaker is extraordinary.  He has been a consultant to the President of Harvard, the United Nations and the Consulate General of Japan for more than twenty years.  He has lectured on eleven cruise ships and led several university-sponsored trips abroad for photographers and filmmakers to China  and Japan, and has just completed his third book: "How to Make a Movie: A Few Secrets."

Available for the iPad, Kindle, Nook

Available for the iPad, Kindle, Nook

A Must Read about radio, television, documentary films and much more, August 22, 2012


Guy Benenviste, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

This review is about: A Filmmaker's Journal (Kindle Edition)

A must read and if you access the Kindle version you will be able to view shorts of films and many photos. But I read the printed version and saw some of the pictures and could see some shorts on U Tube. Of course, if you know Sumner Glimcher's works, you probably already bought this book but if you have not, here are two reasons why you will want to. First, yes it is a wonderful introduction into the day-to-day intricacies of conceiving, financing, and producing radio or television programs and educational documentary films. His personal account covers more than half a century when these media were transforming the political and social scene. But that is not the main reason to read this book. There is a second and more important one.

What I find fascinating here is the evolution of Sumner's career and the way he invents it as he goes along: his constant optimism and persistence. How he parlays his high school German after the German surrender of May 8, 1945 into an assignment with the US Military Government in Germany where he ultimately plays a significant role becoming a local prosecutor sending Germans on to the Nuremberg trials. He is young then, just about twenty. But he has already had experiences few of us have in a lifetime. At 12 he had stepped on a drowned body in the shallow waters of a Boston Beach; in 1942 he had helped carry bodies out of the inferno of the famous Cocoanut Grove fire; later, after Pearl Harbor, he had volunteered into the US army. In 1944 he had witnessed a young German prisoner killed with a riffle butt by an enraged American GI. He had been in combat and had been wounded in December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge, had been saved in the Ardennes Forest by buddies and medics. All this gave him considerable self-knowledge. It also gave him a very positive attitude toward life. So, although he goes to Harvard and graduates in 1948 in Nuclear Physics, he knows enough about himself to choose to work in radio simply because he liked radio and had worked as an undergraduate at WHRV, the Harvard student station. 

He starts at NBC as a page, works there for six years, is promoted six times and learns all he needs to know about radio. Then because of his German, and his experience with the Military, he becomes the Director of Administration of Radio Free Europe headquartered in Munich. Now he learns all he needs to know about international radio. He also marries and lives for several years a glorious life in Europe on what was then, comparatively speaking, a fantastic US salary in impoverished countries.

I will not tell you much more; you have to read it yourself. He goes on to work for WOR radio station in New York, joins PBS in the early days of television, by 1963 he is at the Center for Mass Communication at Columbia University, making educational documentaries and in 1988 he goes to New York University where he helps create one of the best film schools in the country. He makes nearly 30 documentaries in his lifetime and when you read his book, you find out how it is done. You find out how all the skills acquired through a long professional life gives him the ability to work all over the world.

He does not tell too much about his private life, except that he divorced after 27 years of marriage. He had some affairs after the divorce and he provides us, in a last chapter, a small "documentary" of a yearlong affair he had with a married woman who called herself "Molly Bloom". The book, his career, his attitude and now this frank account tells us much about the author. Maybe it is best resumed in a writing exercise written by Molly, sent to him and included in the book. "Molly" has this to say: "...He rolls forward like time, his life unfolds before him - he moves, always moves. I much younger, feel old, not as bright, not as helpful. I, much richer, look for problems everywhere - dwell in the past. He's a revelation to me that a loving outlook towards life is an engine with 100 times the force of a cynical attitude." Yes, these few words tell us much about his life, and yes this is why you want to read this book.


By h. harwich on June 6, 2012

Format: Kindle Edition

Sumner Glimcher's "A Filmmaker's Journal" is a fascinating personal biography of creativity and multiple accomplishments following his miraculous WWII survivalin the Battle Of The Bulge. Even more so, his subsequent professional career ineducation at three of the nation's top universities, and as a major documentary filmmaker, is extraordinary.  But, what makes this eBook so exciting and important, is that it is the state-of-the-art in publishing technology. For example, Mr. Glimcher has produced 22 great documentaries, and you can actually see live video previews of each one by simply tapping the arrow icons on your iPad, Kindle or Nook.  And, there are also dozens of his marvellous photos of production locationsand travel adventures, that spring to full screen with just a touch.This eBook is a Must Buy--not only for your own enjoyment, but to show all of your family and friends.

A Man for All Seasons and a Book for All Readers

By Dr. Herbert F. Lowe on March 8, 2013

Format: Paperback Amazon Verified Purchase

I consider myself fairly well read, but "A Filmmaker's Journal" ranks in the first percentile of excellence in all my eight decades of reading. Sumner Jules Glimcher writes and tells his true stories so clearly that I felt like a fly on the wall seeing and hearing and, (if flies can feel) feeling each episode. Glimcher is a master story-teller as he describes such a variety of experiences and friendships with many of the movers and shakers of our world that I feel comfortable calling him "A Man for All Seasons" and his Journal "a book for all readers."