Blue Sky (film)

Blue Sky

Theatrical poster
Directed by Tony Richardson
Produced by Robert H. Solo
Written by Rama Laurie Stagner
Arlene Sarner
Jerry Leichtling
Music by Jack Nitzsche
Cinematography Steve Yaconelli
Edited by Robert K. Lambert
Distributed by Live Entertainment
Orion Pictures Corporation
Release dates
  • September 16, 1994 (1994-09-16)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3,359,465 (USA)

Blue Sky is a 1994 American drama film and the last film by veteran filmmaker Tony Richardson. It was adapted by Rama Stagner, Arlene Sarner and Jerry Leichtling. It stars Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Lange, Powers Boothe, Carrie Snodgress, Amy Locane, Galynn Duggan, and Chris O'Donnell. The original music score was composed by Jack Nitzsche.

The film was completed in 1991, but because of the bankruptcy of Orion Pictures, it sat on the shelf until 1994, three years after Richardson's death on November 14, 1991. Despite this, it won critical praise and Lange won the 1994 Academy Award for Best Actress, along with the Golden Globe Award and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award.

The film is based on Rama Stagner-Blum's real life and the relationship between her parents, Clyde and Gloria Lee Moore-Stagner during the 1960s while her father was in the army. They later divorced and Gloria remarried before dying in 1982.[1]


In 1962, Hank Marshall (Tommy Lee Jones) and his wife, Carly (Jessica Lange), are having marital problems because of the pressures of his job and her mental illness. He is a nuclear engineer who favors underground nuclear testing and is at odds with his superiors over the wisdom of above-ground, open-air detonations. She is a free spirit who appears to be mentally unbalanced and who is slowly being suffocated by domestic torpor and encroaching age. Her behavior is, to say the least, embarrassing for him, especially in the confines of a military base. His reactions to this behavior are among the most interesting aspects of the film. Their move from Hawaii to an isolated base in Alabama alarms their oldest daughter, Alex (Amy Locane), and sends Carly into an affair with the base commander, Vince Johnson (Powers Boothe).



The film received generally positive reviews, with a fresh 74% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[2] Entertainment Weekly raved about Lange, calling her turn "a fierce, brave, sexually charged performance, one of the most convincing portrayals I've seen of someone whose behavior flirts with craziness without quite crossing into it,"[3] while the New York Daily News noted, "Lange smolders, storms, rages and whimpers through Blue Sky, acting with every muscle in her body."[4] Variety also noted, "Jessica Lange makes the most of an opportunity at a full-blown star turn as Carly Marshall. In fact, Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe are about the only other actresses one can imagine pulling off such a role as well as Lange has. [She] has the showy role, with almost unlimited opportunities to emote and strut her stuff, which she does magnificently and with total abandon."[5] The New York Times noted, "It is a lavish role for Ms. Lange, and she brings to it fierce emotions and tact. [It] echoes [her] dazzling role in Frances.[6] The Los Angeles Times also praised her performance, calling it "striking" and noting, "Lange's acting in Blue Sky leaves you awestruck. It's a great performance—probably her best."[7] The Washington Post noted, "Lange [offers] a plush, platinum star turn. She is what Carly imagines she might have become if only she hadn't been a military wife: mostly Monroe with a soupcon of Bardot."[8] The New Yorker raved,[9] calling her turn "a stunning performance—perhaps the best of [her] remarkable career."


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