Yanks (1987) from Tuna

Set in WW II England, Yanks is a John Schlesinger character piece which focuses on the cultural displacement caused by being a long way from home in a stressful situation, and how people often turn to love out of loneliness. The story follows three "Yanks."

  • Richard Gere plays a sergeant who falls for a conservative shopkeeper's daughter (Lisa Eichhorn). She is engaged to her childhood sweetheart, who is at the front, and her parents do not approve of Yanks at all.

  • William Devane plays a captain whose own marriage is crumbling back home. He becomes close to a Red Cross volunteer (Vanessa Redgrave), the upper class wife of a British officer

  • Chick Venneral plays a horny private who meets and falls in love with a fun-loving bus conductor (Annie Ross).

Also, in one of the film's stranger episodes, a black soldier is beaten for asking a white girl to dance.

For those who might find the plot summary story a little melodramatic and thus improbable, I can relate the following true story. One of my father's friends was an Army Air Corps officer stationed in England. He ducked into a pub to get out of the fog one night, and ended up falling in love with and marrying the pub owner's daughter. After the war, he brought her back to the states, where they had to explain themselves to his childhood sweetheart and betrothed. In other words, the film is completely true to life.

Much of the film concerns cultural attitudes, and the script points out very clearly that, while Americans and Brits share a common language, they have very different cultures and traditions. It also shows that, when people get to know each other one on one, the differences are not that important in the long run.

It is decidedly my kind of film. Like my favorite Goldie Hawn film, Swing Shift, it deals with the cultural upheaval caused by WW II. As one who found myself alone and a long ways from home in the military, I can very much relate to the themes. I also enjoy music from the 40s. While I very much enjoyed the film, I was left with the feeling that it was a good movie, but missed its chance to be great. It received many awards and nominations, but nothing for lead performances, and therein lies the problem. There was nothing wrong with the script. The material was more than enough to carry the 139 minutes of running time. The problem was in the performances, especially by Gere and Redgrave, who are clearly capable of much better. Eichhorn's character was conservative, reserved, innocent and shy. Gere needed to be far more dynamic and flamboyant than he was to counterbalance that. He simply did not demonstrate enough dramatic range. I felt like Redgrave phoned in her performance -- I never believed her character. Annie Ross, on the other hand, was brilliant, and I wish the script could have spent more time with her character.



  • Widescreen anamorphic



In two brief nude scenes:

  • Lisa Eichhorn shows breasts
  • Vanessa Redgrave shows breasts and buns

The Critics Vote ...

  • It was nominated for seven BAFTAs, including those for  cinematography, screenplay, and direction. It won two minor ones. Lisa Eichhorn was nominated for the films only two Golden Globes (best actress, best newcomer), but she won neither.

  • There are no major reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a strong C that could have been much better with two more good performances.

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