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Heartbreak Ridge (5-Dec-1986)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writer: James Carabatsos

Music Composed and Conducted by: Lennie Niehaus

Producer: Clint Eastwood

Keywords: Action/Adventure, Infantry

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Clint Eastwood
31-May-1930   The Man With No Name
Moses Gunn
2-Oct-1929 16-Dec-1993 Bumpy Jonas in Shaft
Eileen Heckart
29-Mar-1919 31-Dec-2001 Butterflies Are Free
Marsha Mason
3-Apr-1942   The Goodbye Girl
Everett McGill
21-Oct-1945   Big Ed from Twin Peaks
J. C. Quinn
30-Nov-1940 10-Feb-2004 The Abyss
Bo Svenson
13-Feb-1944   North Dallas Forty
Mario Van Peebles
15-Jan-1957   Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song
Tom Villard
19-Nov-1953 14-Nov-1994 Popcorn
Nicholas Worth
4-Sep-1938 7-May-2007 Don't Answer the Phone!


Clint Eastwood   ...   Highway
Marsha Mason   ...   Aggie
Everett McGill   ...   Maj. Powers
Moses Gunn   ...   Sgt. Webster
Eileen Heckart   ...   Little Mary
Bo Svenson   ...   Roy Jennings
Boyd Gaines   ...   Lt. Ring
Mario Van Peebles   ...   Stitch
Arlen Dean Snyder   ...   Choozoo
Vincent Irizarry   ...   Fragetti
Ramon Franco   ...   Aponte
Tom Villard   ...   Profile
Mike Gomez   ...   Quinones
Rodney Hill   ...   Collins
Peter Koch   ...   "Swede" Johanson
Richard Venture   ...   Col. Meyers
Peter Jason   ...   Maj. Devin
J. C. Quinn   ...   Quartermaster Sergeant
Begoņa Plaza   ...   Mrs. Aponte
John Eames   ...   Judge Zane
Thom Sharp   ...   Emcee
John Gallagher   ...   Emcee
John Hostetter   ...   Reese
Holly Shelton-Foy   ...   Sarita Dwayne
Nicholas Worth   ...   Jail Binger
Timothy Fall   ...   Kid in Jail
Jon Pennell   ...   Jail Crier
Trish Garland   ...   Woman Marine Officer
Dutch Mann   ...   Bar Tough Guy
Darwyn Swalve   ...   Bar Tough Guy
Christopher Lee Michael   ...   Marine
Alex M. Bello   ...   Marine
Steve Halsey   ...   Bus Driver
John Sasse   ...   Bus Driver
Rebecca Perle   ...   Student in Shower
Annie O'Donnell   ...   Telephone Operator
Elizabeth Ruscio   ...   Waitress
Lloyd Nelson   ...   Deputy
John H. Brewer   ...   Sergeant Major in Court
Michael Maurer   ...   Bouncer in Bar
Tom Ellison   ...   Marine Corporal


Review by Walter Frith (posted on 7-Jun-2007)

The U.S. military is one institution that I have a lot of respect for. Not necessarily for the politicians who send them into harm's way but the very notion that it always seems to be the most poor and easily forgotten members of society that seem to defend the very freedom we cherish amazes me. The same freedom that seems to have oppressed them for generations. I guess that is the ultimate definition of "unselfish." One thing that does bother me a lot about the way the U.S. does conduct its military affairs is the flag waving factor. Forget the glamour, just go in and do your job and let us say "thanks". The bragging gets to me. It's not just a loss in Vietnam that the Americans have to live with but the tie in Korea where technically, a state of war still exists today between the States and North Korea with the existence of the DMZ. Losing in the war of 1812, being pushed back in Somalia in 1993 and now, in September 2005, they appear to be losing the war in Iraq not to another military but to a group of unorganized thugs constantly referred to in the media as insurgents who seem to come from nowhere. But where is nowhere? Syria? Saudi Arabia? Iran? All these countries are west, south and east of Iraq. Who can stop them? Only time will tell. Well, the reason I brought up the information in that first paragraph of this review is because Clint Eastwood's 'Heartbreak Ridge', seen as a comedy by some, might now be seen as a farce today and an embarrassment to the U.S. military. That's not to say it isn't an entertaining film, just one that doesn't do a lot to boost morale. The outcome of the film is one I won't discuss in detail for fear of spoilers. Let's just say that whether or not a military platoon is successful in combat depends on their readiness and credibility in evaluation by superior officers. Superior officers, some of whom have never been in combat so how does that inspire young men and women sent on their first trip head first into combat. In 'Heartbreak Ridge', Eastwood directs and stars as Tom Highway, a Korean and Vietnam war veteran who has won many military honours including the congressional medal of honour, the highest award a serviceman can receive. He is estranged from his wife (Marsha Mason), re-unites with a fellow officer from his glory days upon his transfer to a new base (Arlen Dean Snyder), establishes contact with the wife of his commanding officer in Vietnam (Eileen Heckart), and butts heads with his new commanding officer (Everett McGill). Highway also has to contend with whipping into shape the platoon which is the most undisciplined and least prepared on the base to be ready for combat. 'Heartbreak Ridge' was called "protracted" when it first arrived in theatres on my 21st birthday in December of 1986 but I don't think that term is appropriate. Sure, I would have trimmed quite a bit of the film's final cut but even the stuff that makes the movie at times slower than it should be is still watchable and doesn't last too long. The film has characters that are realistic and some of Highway's confrontations with them are hilarious. Teaching them the things that will keep them alive, earning their respect at his age, near the age of mandatory retirement, and disobeying his commanding officer for the good of his platoon are all part of his plan. Highway hates answering to anyone but his love of country and his fellow servicemen is unwavering. The film is sort of a three part story. The first act is Highway's transfer back to his base where he establishes his contact and is given the task of doing what he loves best. The second act is the art of Highway's talents repelling or impressing those from different areas of his life and the third part is a military combat mission on the island of Grenada, an actual slice of American combat history that occurred in 1983. Categorized in 'Die Hard 2' (1990) as "five minutes of fire fight and five weeks of surf." I would have to say that as a film about combat, 'Heartbreak Ridge' works. As a film about the flaws in people as people, it works. Where 'Heartbreak Ridge' seems to struggle is in the very notion that a man like Tom Highway would last as long as he has in the service of his country when he has been arrested so many times for public drunkenness, fighting and getting in trouble for striking a superior officer. 'Heartbreak Ridge' seemed to mark and end to Eastwood's days of comedy in film. He would go on to direct 1990's semi-comedy 'The Rookie' and other than that, Eastwood seemed to be on track for a string of films that would bring him some of the highest respect he's ever earned. Among the highlights, directing 'Unforgiven' (1992) and 'Million Dollar Baby' (2004) and those two films would bring him a total of four Oscars. Two for producing and two for directing. And 1993's 'In the Line of Fire' is my favourite performance of Eastwood's. A man tough as nails at his job who is so supremely vulnerable to his enemies at the same time. 'Heartbreak Ridge' is one of the few films I've seen where a drill sergeant doesn't yell at his men. Perhaps his deadly glare is just as effective. At least it's healthier. [Visit FILM FOLLOW-UP by Walter Frith]

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