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A New York City teenager named Eugene Jerome enlists in the US Army during the last year of World War II in 1945. Eugene is sent to basic training at Biloxi, Mississippi where he must live with a variety of fellow soldiers from all walks of life while also enduring the whims of a mentally unstable drill sergeant. Written by
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It seems strange to say this about a movie that has very few moments of high drama and virtually no moments of great excitement, but "Biloxi Blues" has a strangely compelling quality to it. Once you begin to watch, you'll stay with this through to the end. Director Mike Nichols does an excellent job of bringing the viewer into the lives of the disparate group of young men who find themselves suddenly soldiers in 1945, facing the prospect of being sent to the Pacific to fight and quite possibly die for their country. From the very beginning, we want to know about these men: who they are, what makes them tick, and, most important - what's going to happen to them?
There are several fine performances in this movie. Matthew Broderick is excellent (he seems to have a knack for military roles, as in both this and "Glory") as Private Eugene Jerome, a young, idealistic Jewish teenager, just out of high school, who dreams of being a writer rather than a soldier. Much of the movie is seen through his eyes as we see him come of age in many different ways. There's great humour involved as he loses his virginity with the understanding prostitute Rowena (Park Overall). Eugene is simply a likable young man who we enjoy watching grow up. Corey Parker put on a strong performance in a supporting role as Private Albert Epstein, who challenges military authority from Day 1. Another scene of brief humour is when Epstein presents a note from his doctor in New York, asking that he be excused from having to eat army food. Also offering a strong performance is Christopher Walken as the slightly off-balance Sargeant Toomey, who drives his platoon relentlessly.
If you're looking for a classic war movie, you'll want to avoid this. But if you're interested in a story about genuine people, give it a try. I enjoyed this movie very much, and would rate it as a 7/10.
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