Monday, March 3, 2014

A review of Breach of Conduct… an appalling film

I am saving this review of Breach of Conduct, a terrible film from 1994 starring Peter Coyote and Courtney Thorne-Smith.  Since I am an Army wife until July, I feel safe in saying this movie is utter bullshit.  But it's one of those movies that is so bad it's good…

About ten minutes worth… watch it and weep.

Appalling breach of good sense...

 May 29, 2007 (Updated Feb 10, 2009)
Review by   
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating:Disappointing

  • Action Factor: 
  • Special Effects: 
  • Suspense: 

Pros:Oddly entertaining because it's very far fetched. Peter Coyote's acting.

Cons:Completely ridiculous storyline.

The Bottom Line:It's so bad it's good.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

As long as I've been reviewing mediocre movies these days, I figured I'd comment on Breach of Conduct(1994), a craptastic movie I happened to see yesterday. Starring Peter Coyote and Courtney Thorne-Smith, this movie's sheer suck factor hits close to home for me, since it's about an Army colonel gone psycho. Ironically, this movie is so bad it's actually fun to watch. Thankfully, it's not at all based on reality.

The basic plot

The movie begins, showing an ambulance racing to a house on Fort Benton, a fictional Army post in the desert climate of Nevada. A woman is lying on the floor with her eyes fixed wide open. There's an open bottle of pills at her side. It's an obvious suicide. An Army doctor, dressed in the green suit and tie of a Class A uniform, tries twice to revive the woman but is unsuccessful. He pronounces her dead. Time fast forwards a year and we're introduced to the players.

Helen Lutz (played by Courtney Thorne-Smith), is the comely young wife of Second Lieutenant Ted Lutz (Tom Verica). They get transferred from Fort Bragg to Fort Benton, a place known for its hellish atmosphere. Helen arrives at the post alone after a nightmarish ride in an Army truck full of explosives with a Soldier who smokes cigarettes the whole time. She's dumped off at the gate and the guards hassle Helen, demanding proper ID and confiscating her can of Mace. Apparently Fort Benton has a higher level of security than other military installations do. A friendly corporal (Keith Amos) comes to Helen's rescue and shows her to her crappy new house on post. It's the same house where the suicide took place the year previous. All of Helen's furniture has been dumped on the front lawn.

Helen's neighbor comes over bearing wine and lasagne, but the house blows a fuse before Helen can heat up the food, leaving poor Helen hungry and without power. Actually, before the Army started privatizing their housing, this scenario would be pretty believable. At her neighbor's suggestion, Helen goes to the officer's club where she celebrates her first horrible day at Fort Benton alone. Her credit card is denied, again due to the extraordinary security. Enter Colonel Andrew Case (Peter Coyote). He gallantly comes to Helen's rescue by paying for her meal, then takes her home and fixes her blown fuse. Colonel Case is articulate and cultured and he amazes Helen with his knowledge of art and music. They share a forbidden kiss. And then Helen's husband, Ted, calls. He's stuck at Fort Bragg. Helen shoos Colonel Case out of her house, under the impression that he's about to move to a new duty station and she'll never see him again.

The next day, a bunch of soldiers come over and fix up Helen's house. Her husband is at the end of the line of guys who've come by to help. Helen hugs him and finds out he's going to be the installation commander's personal attache, a "sweet" job. Later, Ted brings his boss home for dinner.  Surprise!  There's Colonel Case again! It turns out he's Ted's boss. Helen takes an immediate disliking to Case, after realizing that he lied to her about leaving. But she tempers herself, because her conduct has a bearing on her husband's struggling career and, again, Ted's job is supposed to be a plum position.  And as a real life Army wife, allow me to insert here that the notion that Helen's conduct has a bearing on her husband's career is complete bollocks. 

Before long, it becomes clear that Case is an autocratic psycho who routinely blackmails junior officers' wives into satisfying his bizarre sexual needs. Apparently, he's been doing this for awhile and no one has said a word about it. He's enlisted his underlings to help him carry out his deviant scheme. Case even has his own bunker outfitted for his clandestine trysts, complete with robes, lotions, and a bed. He threatens Helen and tries to order her to comply with his demands. Luckily, Helen Lutz is not the type to be threatened.

What's good about this movie

I have to be honest. I actually find this movie weirdly entertaining because it's completely ridiculous. I am an Army wife who lives on an Army post, so the subject hits kind of close to home for me. This movie was co-produced by David Chisholm and Tim Matheson, who is a well known actor. Matheson also directed this movie. The acting is pretty good; in fact, Peter Coyote is actually scary as the nutty Army colonel, although I wonder how he was able to play that part with a straight face. Courtney Thorne-Smith plays the distressed housewife with an annoying melodramatic style, but it sort of fits the role. And again, the movie is laughably far fetched. It's so unbelievable it's funny.

What's bad about this movie

Where do I begin? I'll start with the fact that even if something like this were going on at an Army post, there's no way it would happen the way it's depicted in this movie. Apparently, Colonel Case has been running Fort Benton for years, which explains why everybody on post goes along with his scheme. But in the Army, people don't tend to stay in the same job for more than two or three years. And any high ranking official who misbehaved as blatantly as Case did would be tossed out on his a$$ in short order.

The costumes in this movie are pretty unrealistic, too. The Army doctor is shown wearing Class A's the whole time, but most people in the Army don't wear that uniform unless they're going to be on TV, getting promoted, or posing for a picture. Coyote's hair was way too long and Courtney Thorne-Smith doesn't look like any Army wife I know.

The storyline is insulting to the military, presenting high ranking officials as power hungry despots and the professionals who work under them as weak minded lemmings. Maybe that's how some uninformed people view the military these days, but I've never seen this attitude from the vast majority of senior officers I've met.

And finally, the soundtrack really sucks.


This movie is available on videocassette and runs for 96 minutes, but nowadays it may be hard to find. On the other hand, Lifetime Movie Network and the main Lifetime channel still show it regularly. It's rated PG-13 for mature thematic material.

Should you watch this?

It depends... Again, I found Breach of Conduct oddly entertaining because it's extremely far fetched. But I also found it offensive and insulting. I'd recommend this movie to people who thrive on mediocrity, but for most people, it's probably not the best way to blow 96 minutes.

Purchase Breach of Conduct [VHS]

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