EXCLUSIVE: Hacksaw Ridge backer Argent Pictures, Nine Days producer Mandalay Pictures and Book Club writer-director Bill Holderman are teaming up on a feature adaptation of WWII tale The Last Ridge about the 10th Mountain Division, a troop of U.S. expats-turned-soldiers who helped turn the tide against the Nazis in Europe.
Holderman will adapt McKay Jenkins’ non-fiction book which charts a remarkable true story. When World War II broke out in Europe, the American army had no specialized division of mountain soldiers. That changed after an amateur skier named Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole convinced the U.S. Army to let him recruit an extraordinary assortment of expats, wealthy ski bums, mountaineers, and thrill-seekers and form them into a band of Alpine soldiers.
The group included the Sierra Club’s David Brower, Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, and Aspen Skiing Corporation founder Friedl Pfeifer.
The men endured nearly three years of gruelling training in the Colorado Rockies and forged 10th Mountain Division which finally faced combat in the winter of 1945 in Italy’s Apennine Mountains, against the seemingly unbreakable German fortifications north of the Gothic Line. There, they planned and executed one of the most daring nighttime mountain attacks in U.S. military history, smashing a linchpin of the German army’s lines.
Argent’s Jill Ahrens, Ryan Ahrens and Ben Renzo, and Mandalay’s Jason Michael Berman will produce the film with Holderman and Erin Simms of their banner Apartment Story. Executive producers are Argent partners Drew Brees, Tony Parker, Michael Finley, and Derrick Brooks with co-executive producers Eric Bromberg and Stephen Michael.
Argent’s Ryan Ahrens said, “Very few details about the U.S. Army’s elite 10th Mountain Division have been introduced to the generations that followed WWII. This story is long overdue, so we’re happy to be entrusted with the source material to tell a cinematic story depicting the courage, sacrifice and heroism of this group of men.”
Mandalay’s Jason Michael Berman added, “I have had a very strong desire and passion to help tell the story of the heroes that made up the 10th Mountain Division ever since I first learned about them and their bravery while a teenager who often visited Colorado with my family growing up. Bill Holderman and I have been talking about this incredible true story since the first day we met at the Sundance Intsitute Labs back in 2014. It is so exciting to collaborate with my close friends and partners at Argent, Jill, Ryan and Ben, to bring this project to life with Bill and Erin.”
Holderman, well known for hit 2018 comedy Book Club, which took more than $100M, and Bill Bryson story A Walk In The Woods, commented, “This is one of the great untold stories in American history and I’m thrilled to be partnering with Jason, Jill, Ryan, Ben and of course, my partner in crime, Erin, to bring this harrowing and triumphant tale to the masses.”
He quipped, “Following on the heels of Book Club, I feel like I’m pigeon-holing myself but those are worries for another day…”
American Made and Hacksaw Ridge backer Argent recently finished shooting Good Joe Bell with Mark Wahlberg and Connie Britton. Recent Mandalay films include Edson Oda’s Sundance hit Nine Days, which was picked up by Sony Classics, and upcoming Netflix original The Last Days Of American Crime with Edgar Ramirez.
The project marks the fourth collaboration between Argent and Mandalay Pictures in the last year following Netflix’s Uncorked, Fox Sports boxing story They Fight and upcoming horror-comedy Bride And Doom.
Holderman is represented by WME and Paul Hastings.