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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Yanks (1979)
(Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)


Starring: Richard Gere, Vanessa Redgrave, William Devane, Lisa Eichhorn and Rachel Roberts
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £TBC (Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 03 December 2018

In the build-up to the Normandy Invasion, England experienced its own friendlier invasion when hundreds of thousands of American arrived in preparation for the landings. In one northern town three relationships play out, before war calls the men away…

Yanks (1979. 2 hrs, 18 min, 39 sec) is a historical romantic melodrama, directed by John Schlesinger. The film won a number of awards, mostly for its direction. The film failed to make its money back at the box office.

The film stars Richard Gere (Matt Dyson) and was made at the beginning of his fame as a romantic lead; he would go on to find great success with this formula, most notably in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) and Pretty Woman (1990).

With his perfectly quaffed hair and teeth he does not make for a convincing grunt. The relationship between Matt and Jean (Lisa Eichhorn) seems simultaneously creepy and wrong. His gifts of scarce food stuff that he presents to her family often feel like an offering for her virginity. That he fails to capitalise on his pursuit only makes the characters more confusing.

If they had been going for emotionally vulnerable people meeting in extraordinary circumstances - he, possibly about to go to his death, she, whose loved one is away, with no idea if they would return alive - it might have worked. There is a second and much more real and understandable relationship which grows between Captain John (William Devane) and Helen (Vanessa Redgrave), both older than the leads and both married, they nevertheless are more able to portray the complexities of forming a wartime relationship.

The biggest problem with the film is that it is pretty bland. The actors do what they can with the material, but the underlying script has little to say about the effects of war on either the civilians or military. Most of the time it felt as if the soft focussed lens had first been turned on the story before it had been turned on the actors. This meant that the ending of the film, which should have you crying into your hankies, just gives you the feeling ‘well, that’s over then’. There is little in the way of emotional gravitas to pull the audience in.

Weirdly what should be the least interesting and least important relationship, due to it being filled by two supporting actors, Wendy Morgan and Chick Vennera, turned out to be the saving grace of the film.

The film is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track and you can play it with English subtitles. For extras, you get the original trailer (3 min, 52 sec) and an interview with director, John Schlesinger, which is a little odd. The audio seems to have been recorded in an auditorium, but they obviously didn’t have any video for this, so it is played over the film. Its wide ranging and well worth a listen even if it does not really relate to the picture on the screen.


Charles Packer

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