Heartbreak Ridge

HEARTBREAK RIDGE starts off well, with Don Gibson’s 1961 classic “Sea Of Heartbreak” backing a credits montage of footage from the Korean War, where the title battle took place one decade earlier. Too bad the rest of the movie is a joke, climaxing with a risible rah-rah reenactment of the Reagan regimes 1983 invasion of Grenada–“Operation Urgent Fury”.  Aside from tons of suitably profane dialogue the script provides for Clint Eastwood, it’s just an exercise in ridiculous macho posturing. Clint produced and directed. Puerto Rico got the assignment to stand in for Grenada.

Marine ‘Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Highway’ (Eastwood, 55), nearing retirement, gets one last shot at glory by whipping a bunch of foulups into an effective Recon Platoon. Naturally, since Highway is a legendary hardass, he clashes with his superiors, quashes disrespect from his grunts and argues with his ex-wife. Will you be surprised when he shows up the officers, pounds esprit de corps into the boys, wins over his old lady and brings down the wrath of St. Reagan on Commie Cubans in the Caribbean. Uh-huh. Have a cigar.

James Carabatsos got credit for the script but several hands messed with it. A few guy-laughs get generated from the barrage of insults, but it all amounts to so much nonsense. Coming in the same year as Platoon, it shows how much disconnect from reality was still on hand to harvest. The “goofs” section listing at the Internet Movie Data Base racks up nearly six dozen errors it commits of one sort or another. Is this the first time Clint started deploying an “old guy rasp” to his voice? *

The noise factor pulled an Oscar nomination for Best Sound. Cogerson at “Ultimate Movie Rankings” gives it a domestic gross of $42,724,000, 19th place in ’86, yet Eastwood biographer Patrick McGilligan says it earned $70,000,000 in the U.S., while other sources have an international take hitting $121,700,000. Wherever the figure dust settles, Clint and Co. clock-cleared the $15,000,000 production cost. If only the Pentagon budget showed results that good.

130 minutes, with Marsha Mason, Mario Van Peebles (a terrible performance), Moses Gunn, Eileen Heckart, Bo Svenson, Arlen Dean Snyder, Everett McGill.

 * Clint combat: back up ,cave dwellers— don’t think we don’t like our Clint and a good firefight, but not all wars are created equal.  Where Eagles Dare and Kelly’s Heroes are always-amusing standbys that, apart from hardware and uniforms, don’t comport with reality. His superb jobs directing Flags Of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima deserve much praise And, yes, American Sniper is really well filmed, but hard to take considering the subject. Good or Ugly, they’re all miles ahead of the Bad that is Heartbreak Ridge.

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