Tuesday, October 4, 2011
CHICK WAR FLICK: Hanover Street
This is the second on my wife and my journey through wartime romances. After Harrison Ford completed “Star Wars”, he made the dubious decision to sandwich in a war romance before playing Indiana Jones. The film entitled “Hanover Street” was released in 1979. It is your typical two soldiers are vying for the same girl plot.
The movie opens in London in 1943 on Hanover Street. .A brash young American pilot named Halloran (Ford) bumps into and falls in lust for a perky British lass (Lesley Anne-Down). They get to know each other over tea. She is very reluctant to take the encounter further. They get separated during a daylight bombardment (in 1943?), then find each other for a kiss. It’s a ridiculous scene with sappy music and cheesy special effects. Halloran insists they meet at the same place two weeks later. Margaret says no.
Halloran is a B-25 pilot and the movie uses five authentic Mitchell’s for the flight scenes. (Probably the same planes used in "Catch-22.) His crew includes Richard Masur offering a welcome dose of comic relief as a chicken bombardier. He belongs in "Catch-22" also. On this mission, Halloran plays the hard-ass who insists on completing the bombing run despite engine damage. When Halloran goes back to Hanover Street, Margaret appears in spite of her best efforts. She can’t help herself and they are soon in bed for one of those montages of groping arms and arching backs Hollywood likes in PG movies.
It turns out that Margaret is happily married to a proper British gentleman named Paul (Christopher Plummer) and they have a precocious daughter. Paul is part of British intelligence and is training a man to go behind enemy lines to steal a list of double agents from Gestapo headquarters in Lyons. Meanwhile, the hard-core Halloran decides that he likes sex with Margaret so much that he should not risk it for something silly like a bombing mission. He begins to hear engine noises forcing them to scrub their mission. Guess what happens to the bomber that takes their place?
Halloran’s commander, who despises his cynicism, “volunteers” him for the special mission of dropping Paul’s man near Lyons. Would it shock you to learn that Paul has decided to prove his manhood by going on the mission himself? It’s a small world (war). Wouldn’t you know it, the bomber is hit over France and all the crew is killed except Halloran and Paul! They parachute and hide in a barn where they witness a woman kill an amorous German soldier. She’s with the Resistance and thus can help them with their mission. Halloran has by now decided to not let this jolly good chap down. The two, disguised as a German officer and his aide case the Gestapo records room and then return for the heist. They acquire the papers in a scene that stretches credulity no more than every other WWII spy movie. They get away in a chase that features obvious Nazi crash test dummies.
Back at the barn, Paul gushes over his wife and shows Halloran a picture of you-know-who and now so does Halloran. With the entire German army closing in, they hop a motorcycle ala Hilts in “The Great Escape” and jump a canyon (take that McQueen!). They end up on a foot bridge which collapses leaving Halloran clasping the arm of the wounded and soon to plummet, plucky Paul. It would be so easy to let Paul go and have Margaret to himself. What would you do, guys? (Ladies, stay out of this) This is Hollywood, not reality, so Halloran saves Paul saying “You die on me, I’ll kill you”. (A line written by Moe Howard.) Who gets the girl? You’ll have to sit through the movie to find out.
Rachelle liked the movie, mainly due to the actors involved. The main actors had good chemistry. It was a bit slow moving in the beginning. The mission was implausible, but if you are able to suspend logic it is satisfactory. The romance was saccharine, but the upholding of moral values was refreshing. The movie is not graphic in its violence and there are no curse words to offend anyone.
From a guy’s point of view, this is not a very good movie. The acting is average, although Lesley Anne-Down is lovely. Some of the dialogue is silly and I doubt Harrison Ford lists this film as one of his prouder moments. The special effects are below average and although the film has developed a reputation for having good aerial scenes, I found them to be unnoteworthy. The whole special mission is suspense-challenged and the chases are forgettable. The twists necessary to put this love triangle together, and resolve it in a way that the trio all enhance their Pearly Gates resumes, turn the plot into a pretzel.
Guys, reward your significant other for her having to watch all those testosterone movies by enduring this estrogen flick. Keep your sighs and chuckles to a minimum please.
Rachelle - 6/10
Kevin - 4/10