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Laramie Movie Scope:
White Squall

A first-class film of the open sea

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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August 27, 1996 -- "White Squall" is one of those films that never made it to theaters in Laramie, but it is now out on video. Being a sailing nut, I just had to check it out.

It turns out to be a good film. It's true, it's one of those coming-of-age films, but don't gag, it's not so bad. It takes place on a big sailing ship, a floating high school, in the 1960's.

The ship's skipper, Sheldon, played by Jeff Bridges, rules the ship with an iron fist. He thinks he's invincible until he runs into a white squall. A storm so intense it overwhelms the ship, sinking it.

Most of the film is about the dynamic relationships that form among the boys of the crew and their interactions with the adults on the ship, including Sheldon's wife, Dr. Alice Sheldon (Caroline Goodall) and the unorthodox English teacher, McCrea (John Savage).

It's a good cast and a good mix of characters. The story is more than just the usual getting-to-know-the-disaster-victims. The characters are fully fleshed out. The white squall hits near the end of the film. It provides a setup for a courtroom drama as a hearing is held to determine of Sheldon should lose his master's license.

This is a very solid film with strong acting performances to boost it, excellent photography and a good soundtrack. Director Ridley Scott ("Blade Runner") does a nice job of holding it together. An oddity: a rendition of an old Scottish song, "The Skye Boat Song" on steel drums! For sailing movie fans, it rates an A. For most others, a B+. I sure wished I had seen this on the big screen. I'm sure it loses a lot being chopped down to fit the tiny tube.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1996 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)