Yanks (1979)

R | 139 mins | Drama, Romance | 19 September 1979

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HISTORY

The film begins with a prologue: “From early 1942 until the invasion of Europe over a million Americans landed in Britain. They came to serve on other battle fronts or to man the vast U.S. Bases in England. Hardly a city, town or village remained untouched.
       A 22 Sep 1976 LAT article announced that director John Schlesinger would reunite with producer Joseph Janni on a project set in England, titled Yanks. The director and producer were frequent collaborators and had previously worked together on Schlesinger’s feature film debut, A Kind of Loving (1962), as well as, Billy Liar (1963), Darling (1965), Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), and Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971, see entries).
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the World War II story of Yanks was based on the personal memories of Schlesinger and co-screenwriters Colin Welland and Walter Bernstein. While Bernstein served overseas in the U.S. Army, Welland was a young boy living in Northern England during the 1940s, and the teenage Schlesinger was a private in the British Royal Engineers, as noted in a 28 Sep 1979 NYT article. Credited with conceiving the story, Welland mentioned that he first presented the idea when Schlesinger was directing Marathon Man (1976, see entry). To augment their memories, Welland researched the impact of American servicemen in Northern England and placed advertisements in local newspapers, which led to finding “a charming account” about a British woman and an American serviceman that would become the basis for the love ... More Less

The film begins with a prologue: “From early 1942 until the invasion of Europe over a million Americans landed in Britain. They came to serve on other battle fronts or to man the vast U.S. Bases in England. Hardly a city, town or village remained untouched.
       A 22 Sep 1976 LAT article announced that director John Schlesinger would reunite with producer Joseph Janni on a project set in England, titled Yanks. The director and producer were frequent collaborators and had previously worked together on Schlesinger’s feature film debut, A Kind of Loving (1962), as well as, Billy Liar (1963), Darling (1965), Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), and Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971, see entries).
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the World War II story of Yanks was based on the personal memories of Schlesinger and co-screenwriters Colin Welland and Walter Bernstein. While Bernstein served overseas in the U.S. Army, Welland was a young boy living in Northern England during the 1940s, and the teenage Schlesinger was a private in the British Royal Engineers, as noted in a 28 Sep 1979 NYT article. Credited with conceiving the story, Welland mentioned that he first presented the idea when Schlesinger was directing Marathon Man (1976, see entry). To augment their memories, Welland researched the impact of American servicemen in Northern England and placed advertisements in local newspapers, which led to finding “a charming account” about a British woman and an American serviceman that would become the basis for the love affair between “Jean Moreton” and “Matt.”
       Schlesinger commented in the 28 May 1978 LAT and the 1 Apr 1980 HR on the difficulty of raising the $6 million budget, and emphasized that, although the story is set and filmed in England, the project failed to attract British investors. Paramount Pictures was involved during the initial stages of the project, according to the 22 Sep 1976 LAT article, before Universal Pictures and United Artists (UA) took over financing. A 13 Feb 1978 LAT article explained that UA would be responsible for foreign distribution, while Universal would handle the domestic release. Additional capital was provided by German tax shelter funds.
       As reported in the 13 Feb 1978 LAT, Richard Gere received a salary of $200,000 and top billing to play “Matt.” Actors Roy Scheider and George Segal were also interested in the role, but were “offered” the older soldiers, which they turned down.
       According to a 26 Apr 1978 Var production chart, principal photography began 10 Apr 1978 in England. Filming took place on soundstages at London’s Twickenham Studios, and on location in the northern counties of Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, and Cheshire. Northern towns included Stalybridge, Steeton, and Keighley. The production also shot in the southeast county of Kent at Scotney Castle, which stood for “Helen’s” residence.
       A 4 Jan 1980 HR article announced that Universal permitted Yanks to be shown on pay television in the Los Angeles, CA, area during the first two months of 1980, to provide a convenient way for AMPAS members to screen the film for Academy Award consideration. The three pay channels included in this special exhibition were SelecTV, ON-TV, and the Z-Channel on Theta Cable. The article noted that the arrangement required the studio to adjust its “corporate policy,” which usually did not allow a recent theatrical release to be licensed for television.
       Lisa Eichhorn received two Golden Globe nominations for Yanks, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama and New Star of the Year-Actress. The National Board of Review awarded John Schlesinger the Best Director prize and recognized the film as one of top ten English-language films of 1979.
       End credits include the statements: "The Producers would like to thank-The People of Dobcross, Stalybridge, Stockport, Hyde and Keighley; The Department of the Army U.S.A."; and, "Filmed on location in West Yorkshire, Lancashire and at Twickenham Studios, Middlesex, England." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1979
p. 3, 20.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jan 1980
p. 1, 52.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1980
p. 1, 29.
Los Angeles Times
22 Sep 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Feb 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 May 1978
pp. 46-47.
Los Angeles Times
16 Sep 1979
p. 1.
New York Times
19 Sep 1979
p. 17.
New York Times
28 Sep 1979
Section C, p. 14.
Variety
26 Apr 1978.
---
Variety
19 Sep 1979
p. 18.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
a John Schlesinger film
a Joseph Janni and Lester Persky production
a CIP feature
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Prod mgr
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy
Still photog
Spec still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATOR
Const mgr
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Addl cost
MUSIC
Orig mus comp by
Cond by
Mus rec
Mus adv
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd ed
Dubbing mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles by
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod services by
Prod supv
Loc mgr
Prod accountant
Unit pub
Public relations
Casting dir
Spec casting
Spec casting
New York casting
Military vehicle adv
U.S. military adv
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
SOURCES
SONGS
"I'll Be Seeing You," sung by Anne Shelton.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
19 September 1979
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 19 September 1979
Los Angeles opening: 20 September 1979
Production Date:
began 10 April 1978
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
139
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25663
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1943, two hundred and ten U.S. soldiers report for duty at the 1st Army Ordnance Depot, near a Lancashire town in northern England. Watching the truck convoy move through the streets, the locals refer to the Americans as “Yanks.” The Moreton family, who own the general store, discuss the latest influx during breakfast. Young Geoff Moreton wants to earn money, delivering fish and chips to the army base. However, his mother, Clarrie Moreton, is more negative about the pompous Yanks, while reminding daughter Jean about her sensible British boyfriend. During their first visit to town, Matt, a U.S. Army sergeant and cook from Arizona, and his friend Danny, a prizefighter, meet a spirited bus conductress named Mollie. She invites the two Americans to the movies later and brings along her friend, Jean Moreton. While Danny and Mollie flirt and run off to be alone together, Jean is reserved and tells Matt about her future fiancé, Ken, whom she has known since childhood. Matt appears unconcerned about the competition for Jean’s affection and wants to meet her at the movies again. However, she is reluctant as her mother watches the two interact. Meanwhile, John, a captain in the U.S. Army, has been stationed at the Lancashire base for six months and has developed a friendship with a beautiful British woman named Helen, who volunteers with the Red Cross, and whose husband is currently away serving in the British Navy. John is also married, but indicates to Helen that the relationship with his wife is strained. Although he is attracted to Helen, he is cautious about making any overt ... +


In 1943, two hundred and ten U.S. soldiers report for duty at the 1st Army Ordnance Depot, near a Lancashire town in northern England. Watching the truck convoy move through the streets, the locals refer to the Americans as “Yanks.” The Moreton family, who own the general store, discuss the latest influx during breakfast. Young Geoff Moreton wants to earn money, delivering fish and chips to the army base. However, his mother, Clarrie Moreton, is more negative about the pompous Yanks, while reminding daughter Jean about her sensible British boyfriend. During their first visit to town, Matt, a U.S. Army sergeant and cook from Arizona, and his friend Danny, a prizefighter, meet a spirited bus conductress named Mollie. She invites the two Americans to the movies later and brings along her friend, Jean Moreton. While Danny and Mollie flirt and run off to be alone together, Jean is reserved and tells Matt about her future fiancé, Ken, whom she has known since childhood. Matt appears unconcerned about the competition for Jean’s affection and wants to meet her at the movies again. However, she is reluctant as her mother watches the two interact. Meanwhile, John, a captain in the U.S. Army, has been stationed at the Lancashire base for six months and has developed a friendship with a beautiful British woman named Helen, who volunteers with the Red Cross, and whose husband is currently away serving in the British Navy. John is also married, but indicates to Helen that the relationship with his wife is strained. Although he is attracted to Helen, he is cautious about making any overt sexual advances. Jean winds up joining Matt for another date at the movies, and enjoys listening to him discuss his dream of owning a motel chain in Arizona. After three weeks getting to know each other, Jean wants to introduce Matt to her family and reassures her skeptical parents that they are simply friends. Meanwhile, Helen seeks John’s advice about whether she should take her son, Tim, out of boarding school where he is miserable. John reminds Helen that she must forget tradition sometimes, and kisses her before returning to base that night. On Sunday, Matt arrives for afternoon tea at the Moreton residence and brings a decorated cake he made. Clarrie Moreton thanks the young serviceman, but puts the cake away for later, stating that they already have too much food. Matt invites Jean to the base to watch Danny’s boxing match and kisses her, but when Ken arrives back in Lancashire for a two-week leave, he and Jean become officially engaged. As the Moretons toast the young couple, Matt is despondent and gets drunk with Danny at a pub. He initiates a fight with a British soldier and is reprimanded on base. After Ken returns to the battlefront, Matt and Jean continue to see each other and attend a New Year’s Eve party, along with Danny and Mollie. During the festivities, a brutish U.S. soldier and his friends viciously beat up an African-American GI for dancing with a white girl. When Matt and Danny indicate that the black man was courting trouble, Jean and Mollie refuse to tolerate their prejudice and invite the other black GIs to dance with them. Matt pulls Jean off the dance floor and takes her to a hotel for a nightcap. Although they argue about the incident and admit they have different values, Jean still wants to continue their romance. One day, John arrives at Helen’s house to take her on a spontaneous trip to Ireland to collect alcohol and other luxury goods at a military exchange. Helen loves the adventure and passionately kisses John on the plane ride. Returning to Lancashire, the two make love for the first time. Meanwhile, a golf course is plowed to make way for another U.S. Army camp, where the American troops practice for an invasion of Europe. At the Moretons’, Jean minds the store while her ailing mother remains in bed. One day, Jean returns home from an afternoon with Matt and learns that Ken has been killed in action. Clarrie Moreton claims Ken knew about Jean’s affair and did not want to return, blaming her daughter and Matt for his death. During a trip to a seaside hotel in Wales, Helen tells John she feels guilty about their adulterous getaway. He understands and drives her back home. Meanwhile, Jean wants to get away and Matt takes her to a nice hotel out of town. As the two begin to make love, Matt suddenly stops and becomes withdrawn. On the train ride home, an uncomfortable silence exists between them. Back in Lancashire, they attend Danny and Mollie’s wedding, but Jean runs away from the celebration. Matt follows her home and says he loves her, but is “not ready” for a serious relationship and was afraid of leaving Jean pregnant in the middle of a war. She asks him to go and wishes him well. Elsewhere, John stops by Helen’s concert rehearsal and learns her husband is coming home on leave. Knowing their affair is over, the two say goodbye. The American soldiers decamp in preparation for invading northern France. Meanwhile, Clarrie Moreton passes away, and on the day of her funeral, a departing soldier gives young Geoff Moreton a handful of coins. Jean receives a homemade cake from Matt with the words, “So Long, Love You.” She rushes to the train station and fights through the crowd of women looking for their boyfriends and husbands. After encountering Mollie, who is pregnant, the two women stand on an elevated passageway and scan the faces of soldiers on the platform. They finally see Danny and Matt smiling and waving from a train window. Jean screams that she is sorry, and Matt promises he will return. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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