The cliché goes that Hollywood loves stories about Hollywood, and even traditional distribution model disruptor Netflix is exploring the industry in a new series. On March 31, the streaming service released Five Came Back, a self-contained, three-part documentary that adapts Mark Harris' 2014 book of the same name about five directors, John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens, who were deeply impacted by their service in WWII. And while there's always more things to explore about any historical period, this doc is a pretty exhaustive examination of the topic, so a Five Came Back Season 2 may not seem particularly likely. However, Netflix loves to leave the door open on more seasons for all of its shows, so it's definitely a possibility, and one that Harris has considered — if not completely seriously.
In an interview Bustle, Harris offers a few possibilities about new things to explore. "Korea!," he says with a laugh. "We’ve joked about how this a Netflix show with no built-in second season, we got to the end of the war." But he adds, "There’s so much to explore [in Hollywood history] and yeah, if the right topic came along, we’d love to do it again."
Five Came Back director, Laurent Bouzereau, adds: "I’ve been doing those types of documentaries for over 20 years and it was the first time that I’m actually working from a book and it was just so, so amazing ... So yeah, let’s do it again."
Both collaborators are interested in working together again, and though they have no "specific sequel in mind," there is a topic that would lend itself well to another season.
"After the war, these five directors did all come together in the same very heated political situation, which was the Directors Guild’s attempt to institute an anti-communist loyalty oath," Harris explains, but this isn't the first time he's mentioned that part of history.
In an interview with NPR's Fresh Air, Harris said, "They weren't blacklisted, these directors, and, in fact, many of them were really adamantly opposed to the blacklist." And despite having varying political opinions, "They were a pretty united front to the point where when Cecil B. DeMille tried to institute an anti-communist loyalty oath for the members of the Directors Guild of America, these five directors ... shot him down."
That opposition created a historic moment, as Harris tells Bustle, "that was the only time that the five, that I can tell, were all in the same room and they all had a role to play in fighting that." The author has actually considered delving into this time before.
"Originally, that was going to be in the last chapter of my book and as I worked on it, I realized that [it] was less an epilogue than a whole new story. So, there's a sequel possibility," he teases. And if the anti-communist conflict isn't enough to hang a whole season on, Harris did write another five-subject book: Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, about how Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, and the failure of Doctor Dolittle changed Hollywood.
But whether Netflix decides to continue Five Came Back or greenlight another documentary based on Harris' work about old (and new) Hollywood, with talent like Bouzereau, Guillermo del Toro, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Lawrence Kasdan, and Paul Greengrass, it would be a shame not to follow up on this documentary series.
Additional reporting by Samantha Rullo.