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E. Max Frye
Samuel L. Jackson,
Henry and Nicky are small town pals from blue collar families with only a short time before they ship off to World War II. Henry begins romancing new-to-town Caddie Winger, believing her to be wealthy. Mischievious and irresponsible, Nicky gets into trouble which forces the other two to become involved, testing their relationship, as well as the friendship between the boys. Written by
This film is a coming-of-age story focusing on two teens in their final weeks at their quaint home town of Pont Muir, California (really Ft. Bragg/Mendocino) before their 1943 military induction. Henry "Hopper" Nash (Sean Penn), son of a gravedigger, is bright, sensitive, and cultured. His best friend, Nicky (Nicholas Cage), although not unintelligent, is reckless and self-destructive. Although he does not really play pool, he likes to hustle sailors at that table-game. Both Hopper and Nicky like to hitch rides on passing trains. Hopper meets Caddy Winger (Elizabeth McGovern) when he purchases tickets from her at the local movie house. He thinks she is rich ("She's a Gatsby!"), but in reality she is the daughter of a maid who is employed by a rich family at a mansion "on the hill." They date and soon fall in love. Nicky also has a girlfriend, Sally Kaiser (Suzanne Adkinson), whom he does not always treat well.
"Racing with the Moon" beautifully captures the setting of a west coast town in the winter of 1942-1943. Nice period sets include the roller skating rink, the soda fountain, and the bowling alley with pin-boys. The feature carefully develops the characters of teenagers and honestly tells their story of early love. The storyline may not always be pretty, as Sally becomes pregnant and Nicky's attitude is not the best. However there is not a false note in the movie. Some of the popular songs include "Tangerine," "Heart and Soul," and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."
Beyond the film lies a lingering question as mankind is currently engaged in the greatest, most destructive war in its history. Assuming that both boys taste combat and are placed in similar situations, and knowing about their individual characters, whom do you think has the better chance of returning home in 1945?
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