Wednesday, January 11, 1984
The Michigan Daily
By Dan Desmond
Whatever happened to the good, old-
fashioned war story? Well, if you can't
catch reruns of "Combat" or "Rat
Patrol" then you should see Uncommon
Valor. Though the film opens in a
Laotian POW camp, Uncommon Valor
is in the same spirit as one of those "do-
or-die" World War II movies where the
soldiers can overcome all odds to
triumph-as long as they are
However, it may be difficult for
today's audiences to swallow that type
of melodramatic bravado. In fact, there
are a number of weak points that
viewers will have to tolerate to enjoy
the movie. Among these are dialogue,
shallow characters, and predictability.
What Uncommon Valor must rely on is
action. The action climaxes the film
and is practically the only intriguing
part of it. So, despite the lesser aspects
of the movie it is still enjoyable.
Go into the theatre prepared to ab-
stain from intellectualization. Though
extant POWs in Southeast Asia is a con-
troversial issue, the story does not
dwell on the moral questions. This is
commendable, for Uncommon Valor is
an inappropriate context for serious
issues. The men have a mission and
they are determined to get it done. It's
that simple, do not look for anything
Oil tycoon Hugh McGregor (Robert
Stack) wishes to recover his POW son.
He finds no help from the government
so he acts on his own initiative. He an-
swers the appeals of a Colonel Jason
Rhodes (Gene Hackman), who also has
a son listed as MIA, and financially
backs a rescue misson. These two men
generate the plans for the operation.
The next thing they need is comman-
does. Hackman takes charge as leader
of the raid and starts looking for a few
good men. He gathers five of his son's
closest comrades who shared the same
tour in Vietnam.
These men train with the help of a
young marine who is familiar with the
latest in military technology. They par-
ticipate in a rigid program to recover
their fighting skills. After some bad
blood between the inexperienced
marine and the others, they eventually
work together and have their rescue
fully rehearsed. Of course, nothing in
Laos will go as they had originally
planned, but that is where the fun
There is also the predictable aspect of
Uncommon Valor. You know that
everyone Hackman asks to join him will
agree, otherwise there would not be a
mission. You also know that nothing
will unfold as neatly in Laos as rehear-
sed in the states, otherwise there would
be no excitement.
The movie avoids complete tedium in
the otherwise boring preliminaries by
adding some light. amusing scenes, and
a spirited brawl between two of Rhodes'
As I expected, the raid is far from
boring. The action scenes are gripping
and energetic-emotions are high,
there is a lot of tension, and an effective
climax. When the operation does not go
as expected, the men have to im-
provise, hence the exciting part.
The only flaw in this sequence is that
we are overcome with macho. A
muscular Reb Brown (who plays a
fellow named "Blaster") grips his
weapon, grits his teeth, and shouts at
the approaching enemy, "C'mon, you
bastards, C'MON! !" This is typical of
the excessive machismo that per-
meates the picture. It is fully expected
in a war movie of this sort, but the
viewer may find it exhausting.
Though the roles are essentially un-
challenging, there are a couple of per-
formances that deserve honorable at-
tention. Gene Hackman as Colonel
Rhodes did not have much to work with,
but in certain scenes he is impressive.
A pleasant surprise is the portrayal of
"Sailor" by Randall "Tex" Cobb. Cobb
is a heavyweight boxer, and Larry
Holmes' recent punching bag. He is
much more qualified as an actor than a
championship boxer it seems.
DAILY 1:00 P.M. MATINEES
$2.00 SHOWS BEFORE 6:00 P.M.
"DC CAB" (R) U
IRENE MAX GARY
CARA GAIL BUSEY
DAILY 1:00, 7:20, 9:40
"TERMS OF ENDEARMENT"
JACK SHIRLEY DEBRA
NICHOLSON MacLAINE WINGER
DAILY 1:00, 7:00, 9:30 (PG)
If serious issues are not the focus of
Uncommon Valor, then why take the
chance of setting it around Vietnam?
Well, besides its sense of the contem-
porary, it does deal with our im-
pressions of Vietnam. This is what we
wish we could have happened in Viet-
nam-something honorable. Colonel
Rhodes preps the soldiers by telling
them that this time they know they are
on the side of right. That is what we
would have liked to have known, and
been, in the demoralizing war.
Commandos get a briefing as they prepare to enter Vietnam. Hugh
McGregor (Robert Stack) along with Colonel Jason Rhodes (Gene Hack-
man) are going to search for their sons who are missing in action.
SA play of
By Julie Bernstein
Beth Henley, author of Crimes of the Heart, now
playing at the Power Center, is one of the many up
and coming women playwrites who have broken
through years of artistic prejudice in the male-
dominated American theatre. Until recently, women
pla-ywrites have taken a backseat, unsupported
financially and politically by men in artistic control.
Henley's determination and talent, illustrated in
Crimes, won her the 1981 Pulitzer Prize; the play
Ocomes to Ann Arbor at a time of independence for
Crimes of the Heart premiered in 1979 at the Ac-
tor's Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky. It darted
straight to New York and walked away with abun-
dant prizes and honorary titles.
What makes this play worth all the attention? The
play begins with the McGrath sisters reunited at their
homesteads in Hazelhurst, Mississippi, the depth of
the bible belt. While Lenny, the oldest, mourns her
dead horse, struck by lightning the night before, and
Meg mourns the failure of her singing career, Babe,
their sister, has struck out all-together; she has shot
her husband because she was "not having a good
Beth Henley presents this wacky trio in a manner
so skillfully crafted, that by the end of the play, you
will have grown to love them and learn from them.
You'll observe human revelation and understanding
amidst inescapable and absurd circumstances.
PTP has imported the National Touring Company,
including several of the original members of the
Broadway cast. Kath Kanzer, Caryn West, and Tom
Stechschulte, who each originated their roles on
Broadway, are being directed by James Pentacot,
who stage-managed the same production on Broad-
way in 1981.
As the first female recipient of the Pulitzer since
1958, Henley has planted a flag for women
playwrites; in 1981, her successor, Marsha Norman,
won the prize for her play, 'Night Mother', the story
of one woman's last evening alive before her suicide,
and the dialogue with her mother that ensues.
These two are the most recent additions to a new
cadre of women who are full of talent and erudition
and permitted by society to express it. Women
playwrites found opportunity through the chaotic
trends of the 60's. The, new alternative and ex-
perimental theatres were excellent vehicles for
women to liberate themselves and even surpass men
in their artistic statements.
Out of Beth Henley's quiet world has come
Crimes of the Heart. For more information call 764-
0450. It will be a crime if you don't.
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