[box cover]

Gardens of Stone

While the rest of Hollywood was preoccupied producing and rewarding gritty, war-is-hell, combat-heavy Vietnam action-dramas like Platoon, Hamburger Hill and Casualties of War, director Francis Ford Coppola took a refreshing, intimate twist with this quiet depiction of "The Old Guard," an elite company of soliders stationed at Arlington National Cemetary in Virginia during the late 1960s. James Caan stars as Sgt. Clell Hazard, a cantankerous combat expert who loves the Army but hates the war and feels, in this domestic assignment as a "toy soldier" on display at monuments and funerals, impotently removed from the dying Americans he buries. Beyond this complicated character, however, too much of Gardens of Stone is thinly sketched. Although it's great to watch Caan and James Earl Jones (in a rare role balancing his severity with giddy playfulness) interact both as soldiers and as friends, most of the other relationships are undeveloped, and all of the politics are stultfyingly prosaic. Also with D.B. Sweeney, Anjelica Huston, Mary Stuart Masterson, Dean Stockwell and Laurence Fishburne. Columbia TriStar presents Gardens of Stone in an undistinguished but decent 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer (with a full-frame transfer on the flipside) and 2.0 Dolby Surround. Trailer, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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