- Movie Rating -

Yanks (1979)

| September 7, 1979

Maybe it had something to do with the times.  At a moment in movie history in which Hollywood films were dominated by the new freedoms wrought from the death of the production code, perhaps there was a desire to return to the good old days, the days of romantic love stories that take place during World War II featuring a handsome man and a beautiful woman.

That, anyway, seems to have been the trajectory of director John Schlesinger, but why did this wispy tale of two love stories set against the backdrop of the war have to run on for nearly two and a half hours?  Its not like his film is loaded with heavy material or complex storytelling.  This is 500 pounds of production heaped on a 20-pound story.

The first love story deals with Technical Sergeant Matt Dyson (Richard Gere), an enlisted man who falls instantly in love with an English store clerk named Jean Moreton (Lisa Eichorn).  Meanwhile, the second story deals with Captain John (William Devane), an officer who has an affair – he has a wife back home – with a pretty volunteer nurse (Vanessa Redgrave) who comes from a wealthy family.

Nothing that happens after these people meet is of the slightest bit surprising to anyone who knows how World War II turned out.  The lovers are blissfully happy.  They see stars in each other’s eyes.  Nothing on EARTH could be better than what they have with this person.  But, of course, war intervenes and the lovers are doomed to return from wince they came.  Cue the swelling orchestra, the violin music, the sad eyes, the embraces and you pretty much know where this picture is going.

The actors aren’t bad, but they’re given direction that feels out of step.  Gere tries too hard to act natural.  Devane doesn’t try hard enough.  Redgrave emotes too much.  Eichorn doesn’t emote enough.  It’s all in the body language and the body language feels like it was written and directed.  It’s all too polished, too professional, and for lovers during wartime that’s a problem.  These unions should be messy and their circumstances unpredictable.  This is a potentially good movie that is undermined by not really having a direction to go.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1979) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized