NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a book every American adolescent ends up reading at some point: Catcher In The Rye, the story of Holden Caulfield’s frustrated days and nights trying to make an intimate connection with a girl in late-1940s New York.
The book narrates coming-of-age alienation with intimate sadness, but as a new movie by writer-director Danny Strong shows, the pain on the pages came from a dark, more violent source for author J.D. Salinger.
“I read this biography on Salinger and thought his story was absolutely fascinating,” said Strong, writer-director of Rebel In The Rye. “He goes to war, survives World War II, is traumatized and yet still writes through that, and ends up creating one of the great masterpieces of the 20th century.”
A native growing up in Manhattan, Salinger became a struggling writer and was drafted into the U.S. army in 1942. Throughout the war, as shown in Strong’s film, the author sees and experiences human horror.
“He was literally writing ‘A Catcher In The Rye’ while he was fighting in World War II, he storms Normandy on D-Day with six chapters of the book on him,” said Strong. “I just found all these facts staggering… When you learn about these experiences, for me it made me see him in a whole new light.
“It’s the testement of what it ultimately means to be an artist, what you have to dedicate yourself to and sacrifice yourself for to truly live your life in pursuit of your craft and your art,” he said.
Now showing in New York, Rebel In The Rye stars Nicholas Hoult, Zoey Deutch, Sarah Paulson, Brian d’Arcy James, Victor Garber, Hope Davis, and Lucy Boynton.
Strong also praised the work in the film by Kevin Spacey as a Columbia University lecturer and magazine editor, without whom the film may never have found backing to get made.
“A, it got the movie greenlit, and B, he’s one of the best actors of the last 30 years,” said Strong. “I knew the film was going to be in very good hands with him.”