“I sure hate goin’ home lookin’ this way.”
When a young man (Jan-Michael Vincent) is rejected as a Marine during WWII, he’s sent back home from bootcamp wearing an infamous “baby blue” uniform. Along the way, he inadvertently swaps uniforms with an AWOL Marine (Richard Gere), and fools the small town he arrives at into believing he’s a war hero.
- Glynnis O’Connor Films
- Mistaken or Hidden Identities
- Richard Gere Films
- Small-Town America
- World War Two
Response to Peary’s Review:
This compelling sleeper deals with the shame many young men felt when they were found “unfit” to serve in WWII. As Peary notes, director John Hancock — best known for helming Bang the Drum Slowly (1973) — effectively shows how Americans tend to be “intolerant” and “blindly jingoistic”, glorifying “undeserving heroes” rather than taking the time to “calm down and learn what’s really going on.” Unfortunately, while the film is mostly successful, its denouement — which Peary curiously neglects to comment on — fails to resolve a number of issues, and it seems as though there is a substantial chunk of the story missing. However, fine performances from the supporting cast — especially Richard Gere in an early role as a white-haired young Marine who knocks Marion out and steals his uniform — make this one worth seeking out for a one-time look.
- Richard Gere as “The Raider”
- Glynnis O’Connor as Marion’s understanding new girlfriend
- Bruno Kirby as a recruit who can’t wait to fail basic training and get back home to his beautiful wife
No, but it’s worth checking out.
One thought on “Baby Blue Marine (1976)”
First viewing. A must. An underrated gem.
The best exchange comes early on, between Vincent as Marion Hedgepeth (that name!) and his somewhat surprisingly patient drill sergeant –
DS: Boy, loosen up! Play with yourself, get in a fight – do somethin’! How many fights so far?
MH: None, sir.
DS: Well, pick one!
MH: Not pissed off at anybody, sir.
DS: Well, you got the language, but that won’t do it. The idea is, Hedgepeth – a marine is PISSED OFF at EVERYBODY!
What seems episodic at first soon turns into a tight little tale. Along the way, there’s lots of subtlety in the writing, acting, and direction.
I don’t feel there are loose ends at the end. I believe it’s understood that (though we don’t see it) O’Connor reveals the truth about Vincent, and the truth about the so-called dangerous American “Japs” in the internment camp (a subject still little-covered) is brought to light.
Beautifully shot by Laszlo Kovacs, well acted all-round, this is a film that deserves a wider audience. (As does ‘Buster and Billie’, a 1974 – non-Peary – film starring Vincent; it seems all but buried.)