During WWII, the United States set up army bases in Great Britain as part of the war effort. Against their proper sensibilities, many of the Brits don't much like the brash Yanks (over a million of them), especially when it comes to the G.I.s making advances on the lonely British girls, some whose boyfriends are also away for the war. One Yank/Brit relationship that develops is between married John, an Army Captain, and the aristocratic Helen, whose naval husband is away at war. Another relationship develops between one of John's charges, Matt, a talented mess hall cook, and Jean. Jean is apprehensive at first about even seeing Matt, who is persistent in his pursuit of her.
Jean and Matt (Lisa and Gere) are drawn to each other despite her boyfriend overseas much to her parents disapproval - there is the scene where Gere is invited to tea with that cake he has baked. We also see the local cinema and the dance-hall where black G.I.s get into trouble for dancing with the local girls. There is an amusing scene too at the local hotel on New Year's Eve with Joan Hickson as the tipsy waitress ....
Its a 1957 MGM film directed by Robert Wise - who could turn his hand to anything it seems (as per my recent reviews of his HELEN OF TROY and Julie Andrews' STAR!) - in scope and nice black and white photography, from a James Michener (South Pacific) story about life in wartime New Zealand, focusing on 4 sisters - brunettes Jean Simmons and Piper Laurie, blondes Joan Fontaine and Sandra Dee - who dont really look like sisters at all; as the American fleet arrives en route to the war in the South Pacific, so relations form between local girls and the army boys; the local N Z men are away fighting the war in Europe.
Simmons is the lead, with Fontaine taking 2nd billing to her. Paul Newman (before CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF) is widow Jean's love interest and they are very appealing together - she certainly worked with them all in the 50s. He is the army officer investigating the backgrounds of girls who wish to marry G.I.s. Fontaine surprisingly for the time is having a baby before marriage but her beau Charles Drake is killed so she brings up the baby herself. Piper is the bad sister who sleeps around and gets murdered so there is a court case. Its nicely absorbing - I dont suppose they went to New Zealand, its probably a backlot job. Perhaps if it was in colour it be revived more. Like YANKS it shows the effect of soldiers arriving among the locals .... Wise does not sensationalise the material so its rather low-key unlike those other more sensational dramas of the time like PEYTON PLACE. Fascinating to see now though, Jean Simmons with her nicely understated performance shows once again why we like her so much, and Joan (Fontaine) does not overwork that raised eyebrow of hers ... its all looks more '50s than '40s though.