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It's the early 1960s. Hank Marshall is a tough, square-jawed, strait-laced Army engineer and nuclear science expert, assigned to help conduct weapons-testing in America. Hank has become a thorn in the side of the United States Army, though, for a couple of very different reasons. He is an outspoken opponent of atmospheric testing, though his superiors hold contrary views and want to squelch his concerns... and his reports. The other problem is his wife, Carly, who is voluptuous, volatile and fun-loving. Her antics are wreaking havoc in his personal life and stirring up intrigue at each Army base. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Shot in the Fall/Spring of 1989-90, "Blue Sky" wasn't actually released until 1994. The story involves a military family in the early 60s who move to an Alabama base. The wife (Jessica Lange) is erratic & bipolar and behaves like a loony Marilyn Monroe while the husband (Tommy Lee Jones) is unshakably faithful. The two daughters lament their mother's disorder, but the family's strong nevertheless. When the father goes to Nevada to work with bomb testing the commander of the base (Powers Boothe) has his eyes on the sexpot wife.
I don't follow film awards, but Jessica won an Oscar for her performance as the hysterical wife and she deserved it. For this reason many hail the first two acts of the film, and Tommy Lee as well. Unfortunately, her character comes across as unlikable and even scary. You start to feel sad for the daughters!
Some people criticize Boothe as being too dastardly of a villain. Don't believe it. Do these critics really think there aren't any high-ranking military personnel with a Genghis Khan complex? Men who think they're above the rules and can get away with anything their arrogant butts' desire? Boothe's character comes across as a solid military leader who's tempted by a subordinate's sultry wife and then does everything he can to save himself. This type of behavior is older than David and Bathsheba.
Some complain about how unbelievable the last act is. Two things: (1.) This is a movie and movies always amp up the dramatics. The filmmakers essentially have to do this because, well, it's a movie and they only have 2 hours to tell the story. (2.) Besides, the film's making a point about Lange's character and it's important to the story. ***SPOILER ALERT*** It shows that, as erratic and unlikable as she is in the first two acts, she redeems herself by literally risking everything for her husband. It's a powerful and necessary point. ***END SPOILER***
This is also a good film about life on a military base, like "The Great Santini" with some similarities to "Desert Bloom", albeit not quite as good as either.
The film was shot in Selma, Alabama, Florida and El Paso, Texas. It runs 101 minutes.
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