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Ford, Give Me Strength: Watching and Reviewing Hanover Street

"It's really a love triangle between a smirking mouth, a jaunty cap, and a smoldering cigarette." -Special guest Margaret Stohl(!)

Harrison Ford

Original illustration by Emilie Majarian for The Mary Sue.

Welcome to ‘Ford, Give Me Strength’, a series where we’ll be watching and reviewing Harrison Ford movies in celebration of this fantastic actor, pilot, and human being. Check out past reviews here.

It’s been a week, gentle readers, a week full of trials and tribulations, ups and downs. As such, when I remembered I had another Harrison Ford movie to look forward to—and one I’d never even seen before—well, it was a delightful thing.

This is a curious movie and a quiet one, sandwiched between two of the biggest blockbusters of Ford’s entire career. He shot it after Star Wars and before Indiana Jones—two franchises that effectively cemented him as a name in Hollywood. And, as I was pleased to learn, it’s a romance, set against the backdrop of World War II.

And this week, I’m super excited to have Margaret Stohl as my first guest co-reviewer! Unlike me, she’s seen this film before (and was the one to originally suggest it as an installment in the Ford series), but unsurprisingly, it turns out we had a lot of similar thoughts about the movie.

Screen shot 2015-11-18 at 9.05.35 PM

Hanover Street (1979)

Carly Lane: So basically this is just your typical boy meets girl, boy takes girl out for tea, boy and girl get caught in an air strike … and then boy finds out girl is married. Oh, were it only that simple.

Ford plays David Halloran, an American pilot who encounters a British nurse in London (Lesley-Anne Down), and from the moment they lock eyes in the street—Hanover Street, of course(!)—it sets them off on a seemingly fated course to romance.

Margaret Stohl: Right off the bat, here we go. Tilt up: Cigarette butt. Army jacket. YES PLEASE! I’m sold. Hands in pockets, check. Adorable chin scar, check. This movie is clearly going to be about caps, the rakish tilt of caps. Once again: I’m so in.

They jockey for line position waiting for the bus. She tricks him with a fake miscarriage. He tricks her with a fake limp. Halloran leaping across the street in demonstration of how fake that limp is should be a meme.

Her banter game is strong, because this movie is not just about rakish caps and cigarettes but about banter. “I don’t drink coffee. I drink tea.”

Halloran is not to be outdone, and tells her tea tastes like boiled water. That is more or less the entire courtship dance. What follows is a whole lot of inexplicable sighing and running away. Halloran says “Why?” and pretty much in answer, the street gets bombed.

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CL: If anything, the air strike is the initiating force, the catalyst; nothing convinces people to hook up faster than the sentiment of, “Oh God, oh God, we’re all gonna die.” But there’s the small snag in what would otherwise be a unique meet-cute—she’s married to a man who works for British intelligence, and oh, by the way, her husband happens to be none other than Captain Von Trapp himself, Christopher Plummer.

Now, I know this is a series entirely dedicated to Harrison Ford and his movies—and there’s no denying that my primary motive in writing is to be completely unabashed in my Ford feels—but I think it’s important to disclose that Captain Von Trapp was one of my formative childhood crushes. So when it comes to this movie, I’m just as conflicted as nameless British lady is about choosing between the two men.

MS: SHE IS LIVING A NIGHTMARE! WHO COULD MAKE SUCH A CHOICE? Side note: Now I understand why we watched this movie over and over in eighth grade. I get it. Oh my god. Han Solo has sex. At least, his back does. His back and her hands. Her hands, and her seventies blue eyeshadow, which clashes mildly with her super classy 1943 underwear.

CL: Meanwhile, Halloran is supposed to be a confident, quippy fighter pilot with nothing to lose—that is, until he falls in love with Margaret (we know her name now!). As he tells her during one of their more intimate interludes, there was a time where the propeller of his plane could have literally fallen off and it wouldn’t have been enough to make him turn tail and run. Now, he’s telling his men to drop bombs just shy of their actual targets and convincing himself he’s hearing strange noises coming from his port engine. He has something to lose now, so dying in a blaze of glory and honor has lost its appeal.

Of course the movie has to put Halloran in a position where he encounters the husband of the lady he’s sleeping with—he winds up having to be the one to fly Sellinger behind enemy lines—so the second half of the film is dedicated to the two men accumulating a mutual respect for one another before Halloran learns exactly whose wife he’s been going around with.

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MS: Now we’re in a buddy movie, guys! Thank goodness we got rid of that tea-drinking chick with the blue eyeshadow. She was a huge downer. This movie, Mansville: Spy & Pilot, is way more upbeat. “We’re gonna get our asses shot off,” is most of what Halloran says from then on. We love it. He seems happy, here in Mansville, like all the Mans do.

Our buddies, the Lovers of Margaret, hide in the handy hay barn in Lyon. They do buddy things, like get a car from a dead German and carry on together. They reflect on their relative manliness. Captain Von Trapp tries to act less manly than Han Solo, but he’s still Captain Von Trapp, so it’s almost funny. He is oh so slightly less rakish.

CL: But in the end, once he’s got her husband back safe and sound, Halloran pulls the honorable dude card. “Things work out the way they’re supposed to,” he tells Margaret, before sending her back to Christopher Plummer. (He also tells her to think of him when she drinks tea, which somehow becomes way more of a double entendre when Ford utters the line than I think it was originally intended to be.)

MS: Out on the street, we know it’s over because he puts his collar up. That is extra rakish. But don’t be too sad, because at least he still has his cigs. As our boy Halloran lights up and jogs off – and I’m not making this up – he TILTS HIS RAKISH CAP ONE LAST TIME and all we can remember is “I’ll win this war for ya.”

Now, for the ratings:

Carly: Four out of five cigarette butts. He shares quite a fair amount of witty banter with nurse Margaret, which is where the extent of the jokes come into play.
Margaret: 4/5. The classic Harry F. punchlines are all in there. Plus he calls his true love Fred, so you gotta like that.

Carly: Three out of five motorcycle chases. It’s the first time Harrison Ford plays a character who disguises himself as a Nazi, but it won’t be the last.
Margaret: 3/5. More like one chap-saving here, but still with the trademark swagger.

Carly: Five out of five tilted caps. It’s hard to resist a man who is not only a hero, but does the honorable thing at the end.
Margaret: 4/5. HAN SOLO GETS IT ON I MEAN HELLO!? Plus bonus love triangle between HF, his cap and his cigs.

Overall “Ford-ness”:
Carly: Two out of five cups of tea. He does grumble on occasion, but we certainly haven’t reached peak Ford yet.
Margaret: 3/5. Not quite grumpy enough, and no blasters, but highly lovable with a bonus for youthful good looks.

We’re past the original trilogy of reviews, folks, so I guess that means we’re in the thick of it now. What are your thoughts on Hanover Street? If you had to choose between Harrison Ford and Christopher Plummer, who would you run away into the sunset with? And what’s all the fuss about tea, anyway?

(Hanover Street images via Columbia Pictures)

Carly Lane is a writer based in New York City who specializes in obscure pop culture references and miscellaneous geekery. You can find her on Twitter at @equivocarly.

Margaret Stohl is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author (Marvel’s Black Widow: Forever Red & the Beautiful Creatures novels, among others) who once owned a sweatshirt that said “Margaret Ford.” She can be found on Twitter at @mstohl or Instagram at margaret_stohl. She loves you (she knows).

Emilie Majarian is a UK-based freelance digital artist & illustrator. Her interests include Robert Frost poems, survival horror videogames, existential nihilism, and smooth jazz. You can find her on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and deviantArt.

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