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The Americanization of Emily (1964)

Cast: James Garner, James Garner, Julie Andrews, more...
Director: Arthur Hiller, Arthur Hiller
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre: Black Comedy, War
Running Time: 115 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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The lively but somehow slightly distasteful The Americanization of Emily stars James Garner as a WWII naval officer who happens to be a craven coward. While his comrades sail off to their deaths, Garner makes himself scarce, generally hiding out in the London flat of his lothario navy buddy James Coburn. Garner falls in love with virtuous war widow Julie Andrews (the "Emily" of the title), but she can't abide his yellow streak. Meanwhile, crack-brained admiral Melvyn Douglas decides that he needs a hero--the first man to die on Omaha Beach during the D-Day Invasion. Coburn is at first elected for this sacrifice, but it is the quivering Garner who ends up hitting the beach. He survives to become a hero in spite of himself, winning Andrews in the process. Paddy Chayefsky's script, based on the novel by William Bradford Huie, attempts to extract humor out of the horrors of war by using broad, vulgar comedy instead of the light satirical touch that would seem to be called for. Americanization of Emily was Julie Andrews' second film; it should have led to a steady stream of adult-oriented roles, but the box-office clout of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music consigned her to "wholesome family entertainment". ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Anti-War, and for some interesting reasons by talltale May 15, 2005 - 8:10 AM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Paddy Chayefsky sure picked a popular war--WWII--to satirize and deflate in his script (from a novel by William Bradford Huie) for THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY. The movie, though embraced by some critics, bombed as mainstream entertainment at the time of its release. In the retrospect of 40 years, however, it holds up surprisingly well. While Korea was a more recent endeavor and Vietnam was already upon us when the movie was made (1964), those were much easier wars to dislike. If you're going to be truly anti-war, you might as well tackle the big boys, and to Paddy's credit, he did.

The movie is so original and surprising--even today--that these qualities somewhat mask its deficiencies. Arthur Hiller's direction is sometimes flat and the script is repetitive (how many times must be hear about the "tomb of the unknown sailor"?). Fifteen to 20 minutes could have been cut; a good tightening wouldn't have lost much. And while the characters too often act as mouthpieces for Chayefsky's sermonizing, at least his sermons are worth hearing. Andrews and Garner are terrific; both have been underrated in their day, and I suspect this is one of a number of films that will keep their reputations high.

In any case, add this movie to your list: If you haven't seen it, you should; if you saw it 40 years ago, check out how pertinent it remains.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.45)
22 Votes
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Crash Course in Classic American Film (30s - 70s)
This list is from's article about Paramont Theatre's Summer Classic Film series. I thought their list and brief descriptions were pretty good so I put it up for all to enjoy. (Of course there isn't room for all the classics on one list.)

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