A shout out to the host of this Blogathon, Paul and his awesome blog Pfeiffer Films and Meg Movies. The blog focusses on Michelle Pfeiffer and Meg Ryan with an emphasis on their films One Fine Day and Addicted To Love. The first is a sentimental favourite of mine and the latter not highly regarded by myself so it tells you something about Paul’s writing that I remain fascinated by the new ways he riffs on both. Check it out if you haven’t already.
Alas today I’ll be briefly talking about Courage Under Fire, one of my favourite Meg Ryan movies up there with French Kiss, I.Q., and You’ve Got Mail. Meg was America’s Sweetheart in the 1990s, she made well over half a dozen romantic comedies and they were all blockbusters. Yet there were films that showed she was capable of a wide range of work and Courage Under Fire was one that actually met with serious box office.
Directed by Ed Zwick, starring Denzel Washington, Ryan, Lou Diamond Phillips and featuring Matt Damon in his first serious role. It tells the story of a tank officer (Washington) assigned a desk job to investigate the actions of a medevac pilot for a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honour. Ryan plays said pilot Captain Walden who only features in a series of flashback scenes told from different points of view.
Made in 1996 it is one of the first major productions centred around the Persian Gulf War dealing with combat fatigue. The 100 hour ground war of Desert Storm had been an unexpected moral boosting success but slowly the after effects of that war like any war were coming to light including Gulf War syndrome. Zwick has alternated his whole career between war epics and small intimate soap dramas. These two extremes often serve each other well. Here he is putting together a puzzle where you have to assess those being interviewed as telling the truth or not and which Walden seems more real to you. Ryan at the time was playing against type putting on an accent, playing a military officer in a physical dramatic role. On top of that she is playing at least 3 different versions of herself and has to make sure she doesn’t play anything too obvious or the spell is broken. I think she does a great job. If that isn’t enough she also has to get the audience emotionally involved in whether she is a hero or not and the results of that truth. I think she does a great job, the film belongs to Washington dealing with his guilt over a blue on blue incident and searching for the truth. He’s every bit the movie star too surely one of the early examples of Denzel being Denzel and us loving him for it. Yet it is Meg Ryan who stood out to me for nailing a different type of role for herself. It’s now been 21 years and it all flew by in a wink. Happy Birthday Meg and see you soon.
12 thoughts on “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEG RYAN BLOGATHON – COURAGE UNDER FIRE”
I like Zwick because of Legends of the Fall and My So-Called Life TV show. You’ve Got Mail is my fave Meg movie. Just has so much sparkle and warmth. This sounds good so glad it was a success.
I like You’ve Got Mail too Alex and I think I would really like My So Called Life if I ever get to see it. This is all courtesy of Paul who’s done posts referencing You’ve Got Mail as well.
It’s one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. I quoted Freaks and Geeks recently, which was a popular post. But if you ask me My So Called Life is one of the best shows i’ve ever seen. I had a look Paul’s blog too 🙂
Paul is a mad fan of those two, for sure. I prefer Michelle to Meg myself, but I think she’s ‘OK’ in the rom-coms. I quite liked her in DOA too. (Shame about that plastic surgery though, made her look like The Joker)
Cheers mate, Pete.
Agree about the plastic surgery. Will have to check out D.O.A.
It’s a remake, but both are pretty good.
In regard to Meg doing serious stuff – I have often thought that acting in a serious role would take more skill that being comedic. In a comedy a mistake can easily be a part of the character, but in a serious drama a slip is just plain wrong. I’m quite a fan of Meg Ryan and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Comedy is hard mate but I get your point. 🙂 Would love to see Meg doing a bit more work but not getting more work done if you know what I mean. Nah that’s not nice. I think Meg Ryan was and is a talent and it makes me sad how Hollywood doesn’t find more good role for women of a certain age.
First of all a big thank you, I know you’re a busy man so I really do appreciate you posting this piece. It’s been many years since I’ve watched Courage Under Fire in its entirety. I did pick up the DVD cheaply from a supermarket recently, and although I’ve only watched the scenes that featured Meg, I thought she was fine. But then before the botox and turkeys like The Women I enjoyed her in every role, and every new Meg Ryan movie was an event, even if her films weren’t always the best. I know some people didn’t care for her performance in Courage Under Fire and maybe my judgement is clouded by sentiment, but sometimes a performer’s style in a particular role just won’t click with one person, whereas someone else will find it a perfect fit. I think Meg and I will always be a perfect fit
Thank you Paul, well you know how I feel about her performance in it and I enjoy the works of Meg Ryan very much. I’m no busier than anybody else but I just can’t seem to find the time to do all the things I want to do. 🙂 I hope you’re well and thanks for organising this once again. It was a privilege and an honour to be part of the blogathon after missing the earlier one this year.