Until They Sail (1957) Poster

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This is what I spend the night with—and no regrets . . . And nobody gets hurt.
lastliberal12 October 2008
Very good Paul Newman about the effect that war has on people's lives as they try to cope with their loneliness due to separation.

It was a great ensemble cast with Newman and Jean Simmons (Oscar nominations for The Happy Ending and Hamlet), Joan Fontaine (Oscar for Suspicion, and nominations for Rebecca and The Constant Nymph), Piper Laurie (Oscar nominations for Carrie, Children of a Lesser God, The Hustler), and Sandra Dee.

For a 1957 film, it really took on issues such as infidelity and illegitimate children and the casualness of sex during wartime.

Newman was great as the officer charged with investigating girls who soldiers wanted to marry and take back home. He played a character very familiar in his films - one that had a close relationship with the bottle.
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Newman's move for the better…
Nazi_Fighter_David23 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The film opens with Newman, as a military officer, testifying at a trial, which reminds one of "The Rack." Indeed the subject once more is the way people surrender their ideals and moral standards under the pressures of war… But here the emphasis is on women, and the story details the endless suffering and sacrifices of four sisters on the New Zealand Homefront during World War II…

Newman, an American marine, becomes involved with one of the sisters (Jean Simmons), whose husband has recently been killed in combat… It's hardly a smooth relationship: Simmons doesn't trust the GIs, who exploit and abuse the local women; Newman, who has been, in his words, "recently unmarried," has no faith in women or in romance… He is tough, unsociable, defensive, and trying to remain detached; and he uses his position as investigator of servicemen's prospective brides to advise men against marriage…

This is the first of Newman's genuine alcoholics… When Simmons first meets him, he's in a bar, preoccupied with his liquor, and later, when she asks him how he copes with life, he shows her a bottle and delivers what would become characteristic Newman lines: "This is what I spend the night with—and no regrets . . . And nobody gets hurt."

Gradually this confused and cynical man is unable to resist Simmons, who, he realizes, is the only woman he's ever really liked… He abandons what she calls his "hot affair with the bottle," although they seem to avoid a sexual relationship… Some melodramatic events threaten to keep them apart, but all ends happily in a huge CinemaScope closeup embrace…

Newman manages to mask his insecurities and neuroses… Instead of showing his usual aggressiveness with women, he becomes very dependent, seeing Simmons as almost a mother and letting her see his weaknesses… Most Newman characters are emotionally immature but they are rarely as open about it—rarely as overtly passive, dependent and adolescent…
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A black and white gem
ga-bsi14 March 2009
This movie is wonderful. It's romantic, truthful and perfectly cast. It shows how lonely women can be without the love of a man in their life, and how wounds take so long to heal, and how easily they can be made. Jean Simmons is beautiful and sensitive in her portrayal of a New Zealand lass trying to remain decent and understanding emotional pain and restriction in a time of war. Paul Newman is positively gorgeous and plays his role as a cynical soldier so well i could seriously believe him really being one. The ending of the movie, although somewhat predictable, is lovely and suitable. I recommend this film to all lovers of Jean Simmons, Paul Newman and the classically romantic dramas of the 50's.
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Glossy, well-acted WWII tale...nothing dynamic, but engaging
moonspinner553 August 2009
James A. Michener's WWII tale of four sisters in a seaside New Zealand home who experience the highs and lows of love. With nearly all the men in their town off fighting in the war, the gals are at first apprehensive, but finally grateful when the streets fill up with American Yanks on leave. Joan Fontaine, as the eldest of the clan, falls for handsome soldier Charles Drake from Oklahoma (and has his child out of wedlock!), while Jean Simmons manages to get close to cynical, hard-drinking Paul Newman. Piper Laurie, as sort of the beautiful black sheep of the family, tires quickly of her sudden marriage and heads off to nearby Wellington to play the field. Sandra Dee, in her film debut, is very cute as a dimply, growing 15-year-old with a passion for boys. Attractive M-G-M production surprises in its openness of sexual matters, yet the flashback framework was unnecessary, as were the stock-shots of battleships on the horizon (making it seem as if the girls live on their own private island). Though each actor gets equal screen-time, Laurie nearly steals the picture with a finely-etched portrayal of a young woman desperately trying to find herself--and feeling the strangulation of family ties (she's also extraordinarily lovely here). Not up to the classics of the wartime movie genre, but certainly not bad. **1/2 from ****
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Better than the reviews imply--finely tuned and sensitive
secondtake13 October 2014
Until They Sail (1957)

In some ways this is a terrific movie about women at home as their soldier men fought in World War II. The setting is New Zealand, and the women are four sisters there. The men are mostly American soldiers, seen not as invaders but still as aliens who are not quite welcome, The filming in wide screen (Cinemascope, really wide) black and white is fabulous. And the acting, including key roles by Paul Newman and Jean Simmons, is great.

The movie is patient, which is not quite the same as slow, though I think a lot of people will find there are too many pauses and lulls. Instead it feels immersive and dramatic. But what gets in the way a little is more elusive—pertinence. The problem it portrays is over a decade old, so it has lost the really hammerhead wham it would have had in 1946. Yes, the heartstrings are pulled no matter what—it's an eternal and cinematic problem, love and loss—but it's now a separated kind of drama on its own terms.

Oddly, the way it was filmed, with old school gorgeousness in black and white, might have kept it in a nostalgic zone as well. Lucky for us, this is what makes it have a classic feel. It sneaks up on you. It avoids hyperbole. It's really fine!

And it sheds important light on another aspect of WWII that fits in nicely with the battle films and the other films on the home front, like "The Best Years of our Lives" and other melodramas. There isn't a stick of actual fighting here, if you want that kind of movie. Instead it's an interwoven tale of women trying to survive lost husbands in the war, and finding love, or not, in the mixed up world of war time New Zealand.
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First impressions can be deceiving...
icblue0215 November 2005
I have to admit, when I first heard of this film, I didn't think it would keep my interest or attention. The casting, albeit comprised of talented performers, seemed a little odd: 40 year old Fontaine and 13 year old Sandra Dee as sisters sounds a little far fetched, but the pairing actually plays out believably on screen. The age difference translates into a believable mother/daughter type of sisterly relationship, which is appropriate since Fontaine's character has been left to tend to her three sisters after her parents' death.

Preconceived notions aside, the story is a compelling one, centering around four sisters in WWII New Zealand. Fontaine, Dee, Jean Simmons, and Piper Laurie all turn in admirable performances as the Lesley sisters in a plot that can sometimes seem a little implausible, or at the very least, ahead of it's time. Paul Newman also co-stars as a Marine officer who plays a pivotal role in the lives of the sisters, namely Simmons' character.

Not the best role of any of the principal actors' careers, but definitely worth seeing, especially if you are drawn to WWII era dramas.
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Excellent ensemble acting with an intelligent script
acamera25 August 1999
War starts, the New Zealand men go off to fight, and four sisters are left to cope with that- and the arrival of the American fleet! It sounds like a recipe for the most hackneyed sort of wartime romance weepie, but this film is certainly not that.

First, this is an ensemble movie, where no one 'star' dominates. From Paul Newman (probably the best-remembered name now) on, we are given a whole clutch of accomplished and finely nuanced performances.

The cinematography is superbly judged: this is one of those lovingly observed pictures where a shot of 'two people talking' is rarely just that; the backgrounds and choice of shots are a delight. This must be viewed in the original format, not 'scanned'!

The script is intelligent and daring. Sexual topics such as promiscuity and having children outside marriage are dealt with in a surprisingly straightforward and sophisticated manner for a 1950s movie. And, it must be said, they are dealt with in a human and sympathetic fashion. There is no hint of the lurid sensationalism nor of the tight-arsed repressiveness that films of this era often display when dealing with such subject matter.

In a situation where the old well-patterned expectations have gone by the board, the sisters attempt to keep track of their universe with a wall-map of the world on which they plot where their men are now. The scope of this exercise is enlarged to include the dead, and then American 'friends'. Ultimately, the map is screwed up and thrown on the fire as the old world- including the old moral universe- goes up in smoke.

The only jarring note is the plot device allowing the film to open and close with a murder trial. One of the sisters has married a 'local'- clearly marked as unsuitable by his working class tones and chest hair! The relationship ends in worse than tears. This element of the film has all the sophistication of an Enid Blyton 'Famous Five' childrens book, and sits uneasily in such an- otherwise- intelligent performance!
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One of the finest movies I know
SHAWFAN22 October 2007
Having spent six years living in New Zealand I was especially gratified to see some of my old haunts and gorgeous scenery up there on the screen. When I was there 1986-1992 the people were still very upset about the goings-on between their native daughters and the visiting Americans despite 40 years having gone by. I was struck, in reading the reviews, both external and internal, by the insufferable condescension shown by the reviewers toward the finely nuanced shades of human emotion they had just been privileged to witness as created by author James Michener and director Robert Wise. Some of these people wouldn't know an authentic emotion if it shouted "Boo" at them. The clichéd use of the terms "women's movie" and "soap opera" ought to be finally banned from any attempt at serious criticism. Such marvelous performances by all concerned (both English and American) are to be treasured and appreciated rather than sneered at from some vantage point of aesthetic superiority on high. The emotional melting of the uptight moralistic Joan Fontaine and the pained, cynical Paul Newman are both heartbreakingly beautiful moments in this film. And the cottage pre-departure embrace between Newman and Peters reminded me of the similar moment on the beach between Lancaster and Kerr in From Here to Eternity of four years before. I think Until They Sail is one of the most wonderful movies I've ever seen.
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the backdrop setting is worth the watch
georgewarnock18 November 2005
filmed in New Zealand in 1957, One could wonder what paradise looks like from a couch potatoes vicarious point of view. 4 Sisters living in Christchurch New Zealand find love, happiness and sometimes tragedy after they embark in whirlwind relationships with visiting WWII American Soldiers. A cast of characters worthy of Hollywood splashes the screen with an older seasoned Joan fontaine matching wits with her 15 year old sister named Sandra Dee, To top it off you have Piper Laurie and jean Simmons as the other two sisters. Even though none of the sisters were born in New Zealand, they sure did a darn great job acting and making me believe that they couldn't have been born in any other country except New Zealand that i had to find out for myself! i would personally like to thank the New Zealand People for letting Hollywood film a great movie and letting the world watch the pristine, paradise settings of the NZ landscape !!!
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good movie
magicmouse9493718 July 2013
wonderful film

The cast is incredibly attractive. You have Joan Fontaine, Jean Simmons, Sandra Dee all in beautiful black and white. People look so much better in black and white, as it evens the skin tone. Probably a provocative movie in its day, and Michener sure has a way of weaving a story around history. The people are so pretty in this movie, and their voices are so nice too. Love to see a young Paul Newman, he is a very feminine, very unusual man.

I don't see movies that cover this much in 90 minutes now. I feel as if films today are afraid to cover ground too fast, and that the art of cinema has become overemphasized over storytelling, which this movie does rather well.
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