– Leo McKern, Alec Guiness, Geraldine Chaplin, John Randolph, Jeanne Moreau and Lauren Bacall together in a TV movie? In the nineties? Really? – That’s one of the reactions I got when I said that “Foreign Field” is a must see for everyone.
Masterpiece of old masters. This is a review I had in my head for months, and when the news about Lauren Bacall’s death broke out I knew that if I don’t write about it now, I won’t write it at all. “Foreign Field” is also very interesting from historic point of view since 70th anniversary of D-Day was marked this June. “Foreign Field” is a TV movie (although it’s introduced on IMDB as an episode of “Screen One”) with possibly the greatest casting team since “Bridge Too Far”, and for that reason alone it is worth seeing.
We have a bunch of old WWII veterans, which are due back to Normandy to celebrate fiftieth anniversary of D-Day. Normandy invasion was the greatest air-naval operation in the history of modern warfare and the turning point of the WWII. Allies opened the second front about which Stalin talked for few years (delay of which seeded mistrust between him and the western allies) and stretched German forces into the impossible fight. First part of the movie reminds me on situations comedies and it’s very laughable; but the second part is more serious. Second part gives the “Foreign Field” necessary depth to be a true masterpiece. “Survivor’s guilt”, respects of old warriors and futility of war itself (never mind the side you’re on) are some of the elaborated themes that are brought to the screen with wonderful performances of Leo McKern and John Randolph. Monologues of Leo McKern in the last third of the movie gave me chills in the back of my neck, and throughout the movie my emotions varied from laugh to tears and back again. That fact is possibly the greatest recommendation I can give.
“Foreign Field” was also the last movie in which I’ve seen Lauren Bacall. She was beautiful, she was great actress, and she impressed with parts she took in the last decade of her life (“Dogville”, “Manderlay”) just as she impressed in the “Golden Age” (“Big Sleep”, “To Have And Have Not” to mention just the most popular). She was a true legend of moving pictures, and she was without question one of the greatest actresses of the twentieth century. In 1997. “People” magazine chose her as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world, and she often opposed to the popular media habit of calling everybody legends or stars:
“We live in an age of mediocrity. Stars today are not the same stature as Bogie, James Cagney, Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart.”
“Legend involves the past. I don’t like categories. This one is great and that one is great. The word “great” stands for something. When you talk about a great actor, you’re not talking about Tom Cruise. His whole behavior is so shocking. It’s inappropriate and vulgar and absolutely unacceptable to use your private life to sell anything commercially, but I think it’s kind of a sickness.”
However, no one will object Lauren Bacall to be called a legend. When I watched her magnificent performance in the “Foreign Field”, and her on screen chemistry with Alec Guiness (whose character in the movie has mental issues) I spontaneously thought: “There don’t come like this anymore.” Watch the “Foreign Field” on the US Netflix, watch it however you can. Remember great actors and actresses above and enjoy. They are maybe gone, but their performances still remain to remind us that acting was, and still is, an art.
MY RATING: 10/10