The Americanization of Emily: The Profits of War

19 Aug

the-americanization-of-emilyWe just watched Paddy Chayefsky’s The Americanization of Emily for the second time.  Wow!  What a brilliant movie that should be mandatory viewing.  As I have been reflecting lately on the cost of human lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the many other wars in the past 20 years, I have been saddened by the inability to justify any of these wars.  Granted, I am a pacifist and navigate the world in ways that hold me to my principals of what a pacifist means.

Chayefsky (writer of Network) does a brilliant job addressing the hypocrisy, greed, profiteering, and complexities of wars.  I don’t want to give a way too much of the movie, because I am hoping many of you will rent the movie or get it on the Hulu or however people rent movies today.  I will say that Chayefsky pushes the audience hard to think and reflect upon our core values, our core beliefs and ask us to look at how easily humans are manipulated.

Julie Andrews and James Garner give nothing less than stellar and complex performances and it is easy to see why their chemistry garnered another film,  Victor/Victoria nearly 20 years later.  Candidly, I was also amazed they were willing to make such a film that would question the American government and push back against sexism and misogyny in such a forthright manner. I’m not wholly convinced we have actors with such talent and moral fiber who would take these roles today. The movie is a clear indictment of the United States and of other countries that profit from warring and pillaging. It is also telling that both actors consider this their favorite personal work given the rich depth of experience they both have.

With that being said, I could imagine recasting this if an updated version were to be created — just for the record, I usually think it is a mistake to remake movies of this caliber.  However, I could see George Clooney in the James Garner role and Kate Winslet in the Jule Andrews role.  The movie also contains a homoerotic relationship between Charlie Madison (James Garner) and his superior, Adm. William Jessup, played by the late Melvyn Douglas.  This relationship would be interesting to explore in further detail.  Charlie Madison is a “Dog Robber,” so perhaps the homoerotic tension is an indication of the how accommodating a “Dog Robber” has to be.   I could easily see Robert DeNiro playing Adm. William Jessup.

I strongly encourage people to watch this movie and examine the word cowardice.  What does it mean in the movie what does it mean personally in a time of war as opposed to the word hero.  How many wars are defensible?  Feel free to share your thoughts.


13 Responses to “The Americanization of Emily: The Profits of War”

  1. dykewriter August 19, 2013 at 7:52 am #

    Reblogged this on dyke writer and commented:
    “I have been saddened by the inability to justify any of these wars.:

    THIS IS exactly why the suicide rate is so high in the military

    troops do not support the mission, cannot reconcile risking life for that

    trauma of the mission combines with that and it’s

    final exit, stage left

    remember when that book came out and everyone lost their freaking minds?

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 19, 2013 at 7:54 am #

      Nina, thank you for reblogging this article. Yes, I do worry about all of the soldiers, specifically around the issue of trauma.

      • dykewriter August 19, 2013 at 10:20 am #

        following the psyc today articles about soliders and PTSD

        has been a major guide in my own PTSD recovery process

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 19, 2013 at 10:22 am #

        Nina, PTSD is a serious condition and my heart goes out to all who grapple with it.

      • dykewriter August 19, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

        well.better to be dealing with it

        than still subjected to what caused it

  2. Donna August 19, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    Thanks for this Michael. It’s #1 on my netflix queue. I’ve never seen it. I highly recommend reading (or re-reading) Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 19, 2013 at 9:46 am #

      Donna, let me know what you think of The Americanization of Emily. Thank you for the recommendation of Johnny Got His Gun by Trumbo. I love good recommendations.

      • Donna August 22, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

        It was terrific Michael. I agree with you entirely. I was very surprised at how plainly outspoken, in fact didactic, the “dialog” is. The outbursts are so contrived and yet so brave. Thanks for the recommendation. Clooney, yes. Not so sure about Winslet. I’ll think about who…
        Best to you.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 23, 2013 at 7:06 am #

        Donna, I’m so glad you saw the movie. I miss movies and television that are didactic in nature. I had to chuckle regarding your resistance to Winslet. What about Emma Thompson in that role?

  3. Central Oregon Coast NOW August 19, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 19, 2013 at 11:15 am #

      Nancy, thank you for reblogging this. If you have seen this movie, I would love to know what you thought of it and the statement it makes about war.

      • Central Oregon Coast NOW August 19, 2013 at 11:19 am #

        I do not think I have seen it (if I did, it was too long ago for me to remember, but it sounds like a film I would remember). I’m going to watch it though after reading your blog!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 19, 2013 at 11:25 am #

        Nancy, I think you will love the movie. Let me know what you think after you have seen it.

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