THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY is a fascinating film from 1964 that provided surprising controversy and terrific starring roles for James Garner and a young Julie Andrews.
Garner is Commander Charlie Edison, who seems to have navigated himself into a perfectly comfortable and enjoyable corner of the pre-D Day war effort in Europe.
Charlie has countless beautiful English girls at his side and every perk imaginable as assistant to Admiral Jessup (Melvyn Douglas).
His world turns when he meets his new driver Emily (Andrews) who finds Charlie's macho sexism nearly as offensive as his cowardice.
As they get to know each other, their feelings begin to soften. At the same time, Jessup seems to lose his grip on reality, plunging Charlie into a dangerous mission to film the first man to hit the beaches at Normandy.
James Coburn (In Like Flint) is excellent as Commander "Bus" Cummings, who has much more of a heart for battle than his best friend.
Coburn and Garner made this film immediately after the war classic "The Great Escape" and their on screen camaraderie is flawless.
But this film couldn't be more different than "Escape". Our hero is an anti-hero, a coward whose anti-war speeches are ahead of their time and perfectly written by brilliant screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky (The Hospital, Network).
If you think Andrews can only be Poppins or Maria, you'll be surprised by her work as Emily, moody, dark and reserved. As you learn her background, she's earned the moods.
Garner said years later, this was his favorite film role of all time. He broke two ribs during that scene on Omaha Beach!
AFI nominated the film as part of its final 400 finalists for the Top 100 American Movies of all time.
Dramatic, funny and enjoyable from start to finish, EMILY gets an A.