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November 17, 1979 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-11-17

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The Michigan Daily-Saturday, November 17, 1979-Page 5 ..,

'Yanks' love among
the ruins of WWII


Jacobean slapstick, anybody?

During the Second World War,
couples were "terribly in love"
and Americans never doubted
their government's moral in-
tegrity. The Vietnam experience
showed ugly images of war and
brought on a "new morality"
which dissolved our clear-cut
notions of love. Most movies of
the seventies reflect this more
realistic, though somewhat jaded
pessimism influenced by Viet-
nam. With shameless roman-
ticism, John Schlesinger's Yanks
takes us back to World War II.
For those who revel in the ways
of the forties, Yanks is a blessing
- a kind of nostalgic security
blankket to pull over one's head
when faced' with the painful
questions brought to light in The
Deerhunter, Coming Home,
Apocalypse Now and even An
Unmarried Woman.
For those who confront today's
problems and look to history for
help, Yanks offers little. Its
creators are interested in
revitalizing the way Hollywood
portrayed people 40 years ago.
But they haven't ,given us much
insight into their real lives.
Yank's story deals with the in-
flux of American troops into
Britain during the war and its ef-
fects on all concerned. Unlike the
recent Vietnam epics which
shock and disturb us into
thinking, Yanks presents its war
in a comfortably predictable
way. There are no people running
around in weird clothes jabbering
sounds we can't decipher. The
British don't have radically dif-
ferent customs or gods. Of cour-
se, they «r different, and just
enough so to be interesting but
not difhrui.
THE FILM'S major conflict is
between British civilians and
American soldiers. While there is
visible hostility among them, it's
released in civilized ways to
provide just enough conflict with
the love scenes. Excepting a few
short newsreel clips, violence is
never shown. Men who die in
combat simply don't return.
Yanks does show that the allies
didn't love each other just
because they shared a common
enemy. British citizens view the
American GIs as clods who barge
into Mother England as if they
owned the place. The Americans
are clods,'except Our heroes,
Matt, John and Danny, who are
perfect gentlemen.
Yank's scenario teaches us
something about the times, but
its makers are more interested in
getting us involved in the charac-
ters' love relationships than in
educating us. Hence they create a
setting which provides a perfect
climate for unrequited love.
A ROMEO and Juliet romance
develops between American G.I.
Matt (Richard Gere), and Jean,
(Lisa Eichhorn), an English
shopgirl. Since she is already
betrothed to an English boy (who
is away fighting at the front),
Jean's parents are against her
relationship with Matt, and they
shoot disapproving looks at her
when he's around. When this
technique fails, they resort to
wringing their hands in the
background, hoping she'll grow
out of this phase.
Meanwhile, American officer
John (William Devane), puts the
moves on a rich English matron
named Helen (Vanessa
Redgrave). These two have
trouble connecting because
Helen's married and adheres to
prudish English conventions.

John is a free spirit who tries to
loosen her up, but she's too
restricted by guilt to completely
give in to her feelings.

Yank's characters are sen-
sitive and human enough to ap-
proach realism when they're not
forced to act out archaic
Hollywood romance formulas,
like the one which dictates Matt's
and Jean's relationship: Boy
meets girl and immediately tells
her he's never met anyone like
her. She plays hard to get so he
pursues her, which she likes. She
gives in to him because he's nice
enough to protect her from the
advances of boorish Americans.
Soon the business of war inter-
venes however, and boy must
move on. He has temporary
doubts about his commitment to
her, but of course comes to his
senses and vows to return. We
know he will.
PERHAPS THE actors could
have transcended their
unimaginative roles if they'd
been more charismatic both as
individuals and couples.
Richard Gere conveyed an ex-
citing gut level intensity as Diane
Keaton's tough macho lover in
Waiting for Mr. Goodbar. But in
Yanks, as a conscientious boy-
next-door, his energy is tamed to
blandness. He certainly can't
hope to catch sparks from cool
Lisa Eichhorn's Jean. She's a
prim goody-two shoes who breaks
away from convention under the
influence of her American
boyfriend. Eichhorn's restraint
never really lets up though, and
it's hard to feel comfortable
around her. Jean's girlfriend
Molly, played by Wendy Morris,
a Betty Grable look-alike, is a
much warmer character, but un-
fortunately we don't see-much of
THE LOVE relationship bet-
ween Redgrave and Devane
takes some getting used to
because the two are so unap-
pealing together. Redgrave's
aristocratic elegance is meant to
contrast with Devane's ear-
thiness, but their physical dif-
ferences create a contrast that is
more disconcerting than com-
plimentary. While she looks like
some kind of queen, he resembles
a caricature of 20-year-old Jerry
Lewis. He's such a nice guy that
he wins our sympathy, though,
and eventually we accept this odd
Cinematographer Dick Bush
captures the gritty drabness of
wartime London successfully,
but like every other element in
the film, the camera cannot
escape Schlesinger's eagerness
to resurrect the conventions of a
bygone era. His technique of
shooting the women in the film
slightly out of focus brings back
the soft glamour of the forties.
The glowy haze it creates around
Vanessa Redgrave is so overdone
that it looks like Schlesinger is
trying harder to blur out her
wrinkles than to affect a subtle
mood. This soft focus technique is
also disconcerting because it con-
trasts so markedly with the rest
of the film's sharpness.
WHEN RECENT films are so
heavily pessimistic that they
deny fulfillment of any ideals, we
often search for relief. Yanks of-
fers security through nostalgia.
There's something tremendously
reassuring about feeling that a
war is justified, or in seeing
lovers make a lifetime commit-
ment to each other. But we can't
live in Hollywood's past. Yanks
offers only a hollow escape
because it ignores everything
we've learned from the distur-
bing films that deal with love and
war. The Deerhunter and Coming

Home present a view of life that
is harder to accept than that of
Yanks. But in doing so they
challenge us, while Yanks works
only to lull us into passivity.

There is a friendly, intimate air about
Residential College theater productions
that I enjoy each time I see one.
Perhaps it's the setting, that cunning,
natty little auditorium tucked away in
the underbelly of East Quad, or the
The Alchemist
By Ben Jonson
Residential College Auditorium
November 15, 16,17
Subtle, the Alchemist......... GabrielOtterman
Face, a Captain................. Blake Ratcliffe
Dol Common, their Companion. MargaretGonzales
Sir Epicure Mammon, a Knight......Dan Gordon
Presented by the R.C. Players. Directed by Martin
Walsh, assisted by Linda Spalding; costumes by
Melissa Armstrong, set by Lauren Press, lights by
Bob Cantor. Intermission music written by various
Renaissance composers, performed by Gregory
.small, inbred group of R.C. theater
profs and students that keep popping up
in each new show. Despite the R.C.'s
dwindling popularity (only a scant few
of students who enroll in this decade-old
experiment in liberal arts education

stay in the program all four years), its
remaining core of adherents are en-
thusiastic and bright as buttons, chock
full of offbeat, if not avant-garde, ideas.
This production of The Alchemist,
like many other R.C. shows, is the
result of a play production seminar, of-
fered for credit by the College. Students
study the play in depth, then pull
together an actual production of it,
some students becoming actors, others
doing costumes, makeup, tech work,
etc. This time, the play is a decadent,
rowdy Jacobean romp about an un-
scrupulous huckster and his two con-
federates, a confidence trickster posing
as an alchemist and a wily harlot.
Together, with lots of pseudo-scientific
and occult hoo-hah and promises of
chemically-induced wealth, fame, and
sexual indomitability, they cheat quite
a few not-so-honest people out of money
and self-respect. Professor/director
Walsh and his cast have worked out a
lively, satisfying version of the play,
carefully and accurately fitted out in
the style of the period. Faithful to the
is preserved on
The Michigan Daily
420 Maynard Street
Graduate Library

last detail, they performed Jonson's lit-
tle diversion in its entirety, not a line
cut. Though it may have been a treat
for purists, the three-hour playing time
(including two brief intermissions)
proved a bit wearing on the audience.
THERE WAS A lot of nice, expansive,
bawdy commedia del' arte business
going on throughout the play, which
was almost too well-planned and
executed. It seemed to take the actors a
while to warm up to all the slapstick
and grandiose speeches that had been
blocked out for them, and even then,
one had the feeling that all the physical
humor, the swordplay and bouncing in
and out of various exits and entrances,
wasn't really theirs; perhaps it was the
mark of an ambitious director on a

group of underripe actors. However, it
is a pretty funny play, if you're into a
little raunchy Renaissance-type humor,
and it's quite pleasing to look at.
Gabriel Otterman, as the Alchemist,
seems a bit youthful for the part and
doesn't seem quite "into it," but
visually at least, with his long black
hair, he is striking almost in a
Rasputinish way. Pat Ray was much
more convincing as the skeptical,
heroic gambler Surly, and had a cute
bit in which he masqueraded as a
witless Spanish nobleman, which
looked and sounded like John Belushi
doing a simultaneous impression of a
Samurai cocaine fiend and Dom-,
Very, very intriguing.

Guess Who's,
.-.--'-Back- :


5th Avenue at Liberty St. 761-9700
Formerly Fifth orum Theater



'In The Dark'
Musket's original musical, In The
Dark, opened last nigh at the Power
Center to an undeservedly smallish
audience. Possessed of remarkably
competent performers, an amusingly
contrived if complicated plot, ample
'humor, and outstanding music and
lyrics, the production is overall the best
Musket offering within memory.
Peter Slutsker, an unlikely romantic
hero if ever there were one, lends
balding, bumbling charm to his part,
and his fellow actors share in the
general thesian strength, but the real
star of In The Dark is the sterling
score-dissonant, intriguing melodies,
sumptuously rich harmonies, and all.
A complete review will appear

The '9.5O -
SAT-SUN Adults
$1.50 til 2:15
(or capacity)
12:00 MIDN/TE


Mike Nichols' 1972
The sex life (naturally of two male college buddies (JACK NICHOLSON and
ART GARFUNKEL) from those early days into middle-age Surprisingly good
promance by CANDICE BERGE N and ANN-MARGARE;T (n her first good
Short: THE CLUB (George Griffin, 1975) Animation of gentlemenly old pricks
enjoying their clubby activities: reading, newspapers, slurping on pipes,
matching pitch for an impromptu barbershop quartet.


7:00 & 9:05


The Ann Arbor Film Cooperative Presents: $1.50
Saturday, November 17
(Michael Powell, 1960) PEEPING TOM 7& 10:20MLB4
Michael Powell's master work of nastiness concerns a mad filmmaker ob-
sessed with filming women at the moment of death, an event he hastens
along by way of impaling them with the phallic tripod leg of his camera. A
bizarre, complex and fascinating film with director Powell doing a cameo as
the hero'scold-blooded father. With ANNA MASSEY, NIGEL DAVENPORT,
(Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) . PSYCHO 8:40 only MLB4
Often cited as the most frightening film ever made, Psycho tells of a
secretary (JANET LEIGH) who absconds with $40,000-and comes upon a lonely
motel near a Gothic house inhabited by a strange young man (ANTHONY
PERKINS) and his possessive mother. Need we continue? Will you ever shower
a ain? Chilling music by Bernard Herrman. With VERA MILES, MARTIN BAL-
(Satyajit Ray, India 1978) 7 & 9 AUD A
In his latest film, a thoughtful and talented Satyajit Ray has put together a
dazzling cinematic experience in which every element has been carefully ar-
ranged to please the eye. Alongside this film's immense visual beauty and
physical splendor rests a subtle political satire of the British East India
Company's further annexation of India's land in 1856. Within the limits of the
film's melancholic splendor, we see India's king and a few of his impotent
aristocrats benignly accepting the fact that even when playing the Indian
invented game of chess, they must learn to play by British rules. Crowded
out of most American theaters by Hollywood glut, The Chess Players is a film
that deserves to be seen. AMZAD KHAN RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH.
Next Tuesday: Robert Altman's A PERFECT COUPLE AT Aud. A.
*1 -'%....T



(Tobe H
This low-budget horror flick vaulte
of the biggest box-office grossers
mansion are assaulted and, one byc
istic family next door. A brilliant cor
nightmare, and the destruction of th
the squeamish, but lots of fun. Sel
their permanent film collection, ar
Festival (90 min) 7:00 & 10:20.




G '
J /

Invites You io
Join Him For:

vvr Ivr vvV//i.i.

ooper, 1974)
d into prominence when it became one
of 1974. Friends visiting an old family
one, picked off for lunch by the cannibal-
mrnentary of the American dream turned
ie nuclear family. Relentless, and not for
ected by the Museum of Modern Art for
nd an invited entry in the Cannes Film


6p.m. -1 2a.m.
6 pm-11 pm.


Honda, 1969)


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