The Americanization of Emily (1964) Arthur Hiller

“The first dead American on Omaha Beach will be a sailor!”

Six years before “Catch-22” and “M.A.S.H” were released in theaters, “The Americanization of Emily” appeared almost out of nowhere. Vietnam was still low on the boiling plate of the American conscience, however this film does hold the distinction of being the first anti-war film of the Vietnam era. Sweet Julie Andrews had only a few months earlier burst on to the screen in the Disney film, “Mary Poppins” and would five months after the release of “Emily” be forever anointed in the public’s mind as Miss Goody Two Shoes, with more sugar than a Cuban cane field. Yet in between these two films, slipping under the public’s radar, Andrews appeared in this dark biting anti-war satire.

James Garner is Lt. Commander Charlie Madison whose official position is acting as an aide for Admiral William Jessup (Melvyn Douglas). What Madison’s unofficial position is, and most important, is being a “dog robber,” an aide who will obtain whatever the Admiral wants, legally…or not so legally, and Charlie’s the best.  Charlie’s bartering arsenal includes a large supply of Hershey bars, stockings, bourbon and clothes to get what he needs. Stationed in England just prior to the D-Day invasion, Charlie can “buy” anything his commanding officer desires including steaks, wine and women.  Everyone knows good ‘ol Charlie and likes him. If Charlie needs a favor, a box or two of Hershey’s chocolates or maybe a couple of pairs of nylons will help secure it. Remember, this is England, heavily rationed during the War. Continue reading