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Yanks poster.jpg
Cinema release poster
Directed byJohn Schlesinger
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story byColin Welland
Music byRichard Rodney Bennett
CinematographyDick Bush
Edited byJim Clark
CIP Filmproduktion GmbH
Distributed by
Release date
  • 19 September 1979 (1979-09-19) (UK & US)
Running time
141 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • West Germany
Budget$6 million[1]
Box office$3,931,010[2]

Yanks is a 1979 drama film directed by John Schlesinger and starring Richard Gere, Vanessa Redgrave, William Devane, Lisa Eichhorn and Tony Melody. The film is set during the Second World War in Northern England and features no combat scenes.

The film depicts the relationships between American soldiers stationed in semi-rural England and the local population during the build-up to Operation Overlord in 1944. In particular, three romances between US service personnel and local women are shown, in order to explore the effects of the cultural differences between the brash GIs or "Yanks" and the more reserved British population.


A small northern town soon finds out that a large U.S. Army base is being established for the build-up to the Normandy landings. Soon thousands of rambunctious American troops, or "Yanks" as they are known to the British, descend upon the area. On leave in the town, Technical Sergeant Matt Dyson, encounters Jean Moreton while out to the cinema. She is the fiancée of Ken, a British soldier fighting overseas, and initially rebuffs Matt's advances. He is quite persistent, and she, doubtful about her relationship with Ken, eventually accepts him. The handsome, brash American is in stark contrast to the restrained Englishmen she has known. Soon, she is keeping company with Matt, though it is largely platonic at first.

For her part, Helen is a bit more worldly in her affairs. Captain John comes to her estate often, and a relationship develops. They are both married, but her husband is away at sea, and his wife is thousands of miles distant.

Eventually, the kind-hearted Matt Dyson is accepted by the Moreton family, notwithstanding Jean's engagement. They welcome his visits, when he, as an army cook, often brings hard-to-find foods normally on wartime rationing and other presents. But when news of Ken's death in action arrives, Jean's ailing mother condemns their relationship as a kind of betrayal.

Jean and Matt travel together to a Welsh seaside resort, where they make love but without completion when Jean calls out Ken's name. Jean is crushed, although Matt says "not like this." She feels spurned, and that her willingness to risk everything has not been matched by him, concluding that he is "not ready" for her.

Shortly afterwards, the Americans ship out by troop train to Southern England to prepare for D-Day. A characteristic last-minute gift and message from Matt prompt Jean into racing to the railway station. With the town and station a hive of activity, hundreds of the townswomen, some of them pregnant from liaisons with men they may never see again, scramble to catch one last glimpse of their American boyfriends before the train leaves. Matt shouts from the departing train that he will return.



Schlesinger was able to obtain the finance to make Yanks - which was a personal project - because of the financial success of his 1976 suspense film Marathon Man.[3]

Much of the filming took place on location in Northern England between April and August 1978. Scenes were shot on location in Oldham, Glossop, Stalybridge, Stockport and other surrounding areas. The opening shot of the film is the war memorial in Stalybridge town centre. Other scenes were filmed at the town hall in Hyde[4] and outside a pillbox attached to a former Royal Ordnance Factory in Steeton, West Yorkshire.[5] However the cinema sequences were shot at the Davenport cinema in Stockport which was chosen due to a period Art Deco interior as well as the presence in the orchestra pit in front of the screen of a Compton 3Manual/6Ranks theatre organ on a rising platform to the left of the stage which was used in the film for scenes involving an audience sing-along to such songs as "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" and "Deep in the Heart of Texas" and exterior shots of the unnamed Welsh resort were filmed along Happy Valley Road, Llandudno, North Wales.

The ending, where the troops board their train to head to the front, were filmed at Keighley railway station on the line belonging to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. An authentic Second World War locomotive, which is preserved by the heritage railway, was used for the scene.


The film was a box office flop in the US only making $1.6 million in rentals.[6]


  1. ^ http://catalog.afi.com/Film/57216-YANKS
  2. ^ "Yanks (1979) - Box Office Mojo". www.boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  3. ^ Phillips, Gene D. Major Film Directors of the American and British Cinema, Volume 1999. Lehigh University Press, 1999. 238. Retrieved from Google Books on January 30, 2012. ISBN 0-934223-59-9, ISBN 978-0-934223-59-1.
  4. ^ "Bradford people get a taste for big screen". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. June 26, 2009. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  5. ^ "History enthusiasts launch campaign to save rare pillbox". Craven Herald. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  6. ^ THE BIG THUDS OF 1979--FILMS THAT FLOPPED, BADLY Epstein, Andrew. Los Angeles Times 27 Apr 1980: o6.

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