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George Clooney's 'The Monuments Men' Highlights Local's Story

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George Clooney's 'The Monuments Men' Highlights Local's Story

Post by Mazy on Sat Mar 08 2014, 04:35

George Clooney's 'The Monuments Men' Highlights Local's Story

Posted: Mar 06, 2014 5:36 PM EST
By Ali Killam, Reporter

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Perhaps you've heard of the feature film, "The Monuments Men."

It's not only a movie, but a blockbuster piece of history with an amazing and little-known connection to a Rochester family.
George Clooney brought the story of "The Monuments Men" to the big screen.

It's the big screen chronicle of a real life story: seven men risking their lives on the front lines of World War II to rescue the greatest pieces of art and architecture our planet has ever known.

One of these Monuments Men was played by Bill Murray in the film, his real name was Ralph Hammett and he lived here in Rochester with his family.

Hammett's grandson, Frank Allen, knew of his grandfather's past as a world-renowned architect, but his role as a Monument Man came as a surprise.

"At Christmas four years ago, I open up my Christmas present, and out comes a book and you know as a parent you always want your kids to read more," says Allen.

That's right. He discovered his grandfather's heroism through The Monuments Men book by Robert Edsel.
"And then two years later we find out George Clooney is making this movie."

In the movie, Ralph Hammett, or Richard Campbell, as the movie character is called, is portrayed as a soldier not be the most able for battle.

In reality, Hammett served in WWI as a lieutenant and was called upon more than twenty years later for this seemingly absurd operation.

"Once World War II started, I think these guys started talking on the phone or started to collaborate and realized, that, somebody needs to protect this," says Allen.

It leaves the question of just how well the movie sticks to history.

"I think what George Clooney did with the script was really merge people together," explains Allen.

Hammett actually was in charge of the Louvre, and recovering pieces all throughout France, The Netherlands and Belgium taken by the Nazi regime. He also worked with one of the other major characters in the film, played by Cate Blanchett.

Her role in the film was actually very similar to Hammett's while he served in Europe.

"She logged everything and that's something my grandfather did in England when the war initially broke out, you know, he and I'm sure a number of others were documenting , keeping a log of where these paintings, where they were," says Allen.

Those logs made Hammett a hero of history.

Hammett passed away in 1984, but left a legacy of adventurers and art crusaders.

A part of that legacy can be found in none other than Frank Allen himself.

"You know, you want to leave this earth better than you found it, and at the same time you want to leave this earth with, being able to enculturate people."

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Achieving total Clooney-dom

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