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Another of Altman's gripping demonstrations of how to transform theatre by means of composition and close-up. As in Come Back to the 5 & Dime, he restricts his material to a single set, this time an army barracks dormitory, where a group of young US recruits live, laugh and lay into each other while waiting to be sent off to action in Vietnam. Sex, class, race and war are the main topics under discussion, brought to boiling point by the arrival of the ranting Carlyle (Wright), an argumentative black whose abrupt changes in articulacy and temper reveal a madman's insights into reality. Confusion and confinement are the keynotes here: freedom of thought and action has been removed from these boys, with the result that finally they turn with inexorable anguish upon one another. Altman's direction keeps the atmosphere admirably taut and claustrophobic, while allowing the cast plenty of opportunity to excel with spontaneous, vivid performances, subtly explored by a hesitantly prowling camera.

Release details

Duration: 118 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Robert Altman
Screenwriter: David Rabe
Cast: Matthew Modine
Michael Wright
Mitchell Lichtenstein
David Alan Grier
Guy Boyd
George Dzundza
Albert Macklin
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