Ulysses Johnson (Clark Gable) is an American surgeon coming back from World War II. As he is sitting on the transport boat taking him back to America, he is asked by a reporter about his experiences during the war. Johnson begins to tell his story, beginning in 1941. Johnson is the chief surgeon at a hospital, a man free of emotional attachment to his patients. He joins the Army and has a cocktail party with his wife, Penny (Anne Baxter). During the party, a colleague of his, Dr. Robert Sunday (John Hodiak), accuses Johnson of being unsentimental, a hypocrite, and joining the Army out of purely selfish motives. Penny breaks up the fray and she and Johnson spend their last night together sipping cocktails.
Johnson then boards a transport ship, where he meets Lt. Jane “Snapshot” McCall (Lana Turner). Although they initially do not get along, they eventually find they have a lot in common and become fast friends. Their friendship is at numerous moments tested as they begin to fall in love with one another. After taking a trip to bathe, Johnson and Snapshot come back to the base to find that a friend of Johnson’s, Sergeant Monkevickz (Cameron Mitchell), is dying from a malaria-ruptured spleen. Johnson remembers that during his argument with Dr. Sunday, Sunday mentioned that people in Chester Village, where Monkevickz was from, were dying from malaria and being neglected by physicians. Johnson tells Snapshot that he treated Monkevicks without enough care as to treat him like a human being. To atone, Johnson asks Penny to visit Monkevickz’s father. When Penny arrives at the house, she finds Doctor Sunday there and confesses that she is jealous of Snapshot, whom Johnson has mentioned in letters, and believes that Johnson and Snapshot are having an affair.
Meanwhile, Johnson and Snapshot have grown closer and when she is reassigned to a different outfit, she and Johnson kiss. They depart, but again encounter one another in Paris. They fall back in love, but leave to rescue the 299th division, which has fallen victim to enemy fire in the Battle of the Bulge. The story turns back to Johnson returning to his home following the war as a far more world-weary man. He returns to Penny, a ghost of his former self. He apologizes to Dr. Sunday for not heeding his warnings about the malaria in Chester Village and confesses to Penny his love for Snapshot, but tells Penny that Snapshot died of a shell fragment wound. The film ends leaving the viewer to assume that Johnson and Penny patch up their differences and live happier lives.
This is a very enjoyable piece of film making. Lana Turner and Clark Gable work well together in this likeable World War 2 light drama. A must for both Lana and Clark fans. Not a brilliant piece but again enjoyable.
Love in war time
Author: jotix100 from New York
18 November 2004
Movies like this one are discoveries. Mervyn LeRoy was a director that always knew where to go for a good story and get amazing performances out of his actors. In this film he demonstrates how to create a movie that holds the viewer’s attention. It is based on a story by Sidney Kingsley and was adapted by Jan Lustig.
The movie shows the American cinema at its best as it combines a look to WWII and a forbidden love, something that probably had a hard time passing the censor’s scissors. Mr. LeRoy makes the picture highly engrossing because of the way he presents the story. Men and women, for the first time were in the front lines; the men as combatants, or in this case, a doctor and the women as nurses, or filling in for the jobs the men couldn’t do because they did the fighting.
Clark Gable was an actor that made this picture the joy it is to watch by making us believe he is this surgeon, Dr. Lee Johnson, a man that awakes to reality when he has to deal first hand with treating the wounded soldiers. Mr. Gable casts such a virile shadow in his best work that we know where he stood all the time. His Dr. Johnson shows the strain of the stress of war, the loyalty to his wife at home and the sudden love he finds for “Snapshot” McCall. He remains throughout the film focused in helping the soldiers, until the passion he feels for his nurse, gets the best of him.
Lana Turner is the real surprise of the movie. She is playing a role that probably would not have been offered to her because of the heat and glamour she projected. Her nurse McCall is a woman that life has made a cynic because of the tragedy in her own life and the fact that she is separated from her young son. The magnetism between Ms. Turner and Mr. Gable is what keeps us interested in the movie. Lana Turner shows she had the potential for playing dramatic parts that were not offered to her; she was type-casted as the siren, or the sophisticate in most of her work, but she had the range and the potential that probably only Mr. LeRoy, who discovered Ms. Turner, saw she had. Only a director like Mr. LeRoy could elicit this performance from Ms. Turner.
Anne Baxter is the wife that stays home hoping her man will come back alive. Her Penny Johnson makes her appear as insecure because she perceives her husband’s affection might lie with the nurse that he complains to her at the beginning of his correspondence. John Hodiak plays the friend, Dr. Sunday, a man who has his feet on the ground and believes he should help the poor people of his area, instead of the society types that Dr. Johnson attracts.
The movie is satisfying because is tells a good story with characters one is easily identified with. Mr. LeRoy was the one that got all the elements together and gave us this classic film that is timeless.
Good cast elevates story
Author: blanche-2 from United States
14 August 2006
Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Anne Baxter, John Hodiak, and Gladys Cooper star in “Homecoming,” a 1948 film about wartime and its aftermath. Gable plays a surgeon, Lee, who falls for a nurse (Turner) with whom he puts together the wounded, endures a life with only the barest of necessities, sits in shelters, and dodges. Back home, his devoted wife (Baxter) realizes by reading his letters that she’s losing him.
World War II has been romanticized often in films and in music – somehow, it is perceived by people who lived through Vietnam, Desert Storm, and our current conflicts as being somehow a cleaner war. But no war is clean, and there were some homecomings that were difficult as well. This was touched upon in “The Best Years of Our Lives,” and very well here.
The story is brought to life by its players. The role of Snapshot the nurse is a different one for the glamorous and beautiful Turner than what she was normally handed – the curse of the beautiful in Hollywood. She was capable of much more, and she gives a strong performance as an outspoken soldier who finally lets her vulnerability show. The stalwart Gable gives us a man who realizes the detached attitude he had toward his patients at home will no longer work, and he has to rethink himself and his life. Baxter is the “one left out,” who can’t experience the war, and she gives an excellent portrayal of a woman who loves her husband but doesn’t know what to expect from him when he comes home. “I know he’s changed,” she laments, “but why couldn’t we have changed together?” Her real-life husband, John Hodiak, looks quite handsome but doesn’t have much to do as a family friend – his brief brush with stardom was a few years away.
A very nice movie that shows that homecoming can be uncomfortable and bittersweet.