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There are no wars to fight. But Gunnery Sgt. Tom Highway (Clint Eastwood), a dog-faced relic of past wars, still has a lot of fight in him. Besides playing “Gunny,” Eastwood also directs and produces this tale of a Marine Corps lifer who, starting his last tour of duty before retirement, sees the bumpy road his life has taken become more complicated, due to feisty recruits (Mario Van Peebles among them), by-the-book officers and a salty ex-wife (Marsha Mason) to whom he's still attracted. Take the ridge – Heartbreak Ridge – and get a vivid, rough-and-ready entertainment from a top artist in top form.
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Top customer reviews
“Heartbreak Ridge” stars Clint Eastwood, Marsha Mason, Everett McGill, and Eileen Heckart. Eastwood also directed the film, which tells the story of Tom Highway, a U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant nearing the end of a turbulent three decades-long military career. Highway, a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions during the Korean War, is a blunt-speaking man unafraid to challenge authority. Because of his penchant for getting into drunken bar fights and getting arrested while off base, his superiors view him as a troublesome “dinosaur,” and they want to get rid of him.
It is 1983, and Highway accepts a new assignment to his old unit – a Force Recon platoon. When he gets there, he discovers his unsavory reputation has preceded him. His new commanding officer doesn’t want him, and the young Marines in his new unit are all lazy, out of shape, and deeply resentful of all authority. Now he must overcome their deep hostility and begin molding them into an effective fighting unit. What he doesn’t know is how little time he has before he and his men are tested in combat…
When I first saw "Heartbreak Ridge" in 1987, I had a very mixed reaction to it. I thought Eastwood and screenwriter James Carabatsos had pulled out every anti-military cliché and stereotype they could find. The characters were all caricatures of Marines and their families and friends. Officers acted like petty tyrants with their subordinates and were obsessed only with career advancement. Non-coms were generally inept sycophants incapable of making leadership decisions. Junior enlisted people were rebellious, self-absorbed, and unwilling to follow their leaders.
When I watched “Heartbreak Ridge” last week for only the second time, I had a much more positive reaction. I realized that this was not a “bad” military drama but rather a good satirical comedy that pokes fun at many of the shortcomings of the military and its members. I came to see that “Heartbreak Ridge” is actually pretty good – certainly not Oscar-worthy like some of Eastwood’s later films, but nevertheless very entertaining.
I certainly like "Heartbreak Ridge” well enough to add it to my permanent Amazon Video library. Recommended.
Background: While originally an army battle in Korea, Clint changed it to a movie about US Marines. As I understand it, the Army would not cooperate in making the movie, they wanted to use it as a recruitment tool. He gives credit to the Army for the battle when discussing the photographs on the wall in the bar, but he was forced to make it a USMC movie due to the Army's lack of cooperation in making it. He explains it as having to re-up in the Marines to make this movie work.
It's just a small time, fun little movie with classic Eastwood lines like "Just because we're holding hands, doesn't mean we'll be taking warm showers together until the wee hours of the morning." said in his best gravely, Sargent Major voice. If you like Clint Eastwood, you will like this movie.