Army Training Films

Having just written A Kiss Before Dying, in 1953 Levin was drafted into the US Army at the tail end of the Korean War, which ended while he was still in basic training.

Soon finding himself a fish-out-of-water radar trainee, Levin approached the brass at his Fort Monmouth, New Jersey army base to ask if they'd permit him to attempt writing a one-hour semi-biographical television drama about his experience at the base's radar school.

The resulting production proved a success, and Levin wound up being reassigned as a full-time writer at the Army Pictorial Center, then located in Queens, New York – now the home of Kaufman Astoria Studios. (Back then, in addition to fully-functional production studios, the Center also housed a barracks.)

(Above) Levin in basic training (1953)

Despite the war's end, the need remained for clear, informative training films, which Levin helped create – as he described in this humorous New York Times piece:

(Above) Pfc. Levin
As the clipping at right states, “Levin is now applying his talents toward writing the script for the filming of various activities in the [Quartermaster] School. His contributions to the TV experiments will be to write the story and documentary on training films that will be produced of QM operations in field bath, refrigeration, and QM property.”

A benefit of being stationed in Queens was that Levin could spend what leave time he had with his family in nearby Manhattan – a stone's throw from his barracks. This also allowed him precious writing time, separate from his military duties.

Levin received an honorable discharge in 1955, and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal.


(Above) Levin, 1954

(Above) Levin, 1954