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Fort McCoy (2010)

Fort McCoy is a wartime drama set in Wisconsin in the 1940s. Written by Kate Connor, it is based on the true story of her grandparents, who lived next to a Nazi POW camp in Wisconsin during World War II. Connor also directed the film, along with Michael Worth.

Fort McCoy was shot in Fort McCoy, La Crosse, and other locations in Wisconsin in August and September of 2008. It is described as “a coming-of-age story, a romance and the journey of one man struggling to find his worth in a war that does not want him.” Eric plays Frank Stirn, “a barber who moves with his family during WWII to a POW camp in Wisconsin, where the children are the sole youngsters on the base — save for a German teenager who forges an alliance that crosses language barriers with the barber’s little girl.”

The film premiered at the Oldenburg International Film Festival in September 2010 and won the Best Feature Film prize at the Hollywood Film Festival in October. It still doesn’t have a release date.

CAST: Eric Stoltz (Frank Stirn), Kate Connor (Ruby Stirn), Lyndsy Fonseca (Anna Gerkey), Camryn Manheim (Florie), Rene Heger (Werner), Seymour Cassel (Father Mivkovek), Brendan Fehr (Sgt. Dominic Rossi), Johnny Pacar (Texas Slim), Matthew Lawrence (Dan Griffin), Andy Hirsch (Sam Dolnick)



“Fort McCoy” isn’t your typical war movie. Yes, it takes place during World War II, but there’s almost no fighting, virtually zero combat, centers on an American family, and takes place in Wisconsin. And believe it or not, it’s pretty good.

“McCoy” is the true story of the Stirn family, who moved to Wisconsin so that the family’s patriarch Frank (Eric Stoltz) can do his part in the war effort. An irregular heartbeat keeps him from enlisting, so he does what he can: he cuts hair.

The Stirns move into a house next to a POW camp, which means only a rickety fence separates captured Nazis from Frank’s young children. The prisoners frequently escape and are found wandering the forest behind their home. This troubles Frank’s wife Ruby (Kate Connor, who wrote the screenplay) to no end, but life as it is goes on. (…)

“McCoy” is a slow burn. Frank’s issues are the most pronounced (he feels inadequate because he can’t fight, some of the soldiers look down on him because he has a German last name, and he worries that his wife will be attracted to the rugged boys in uniform that he services), but the rest of the family has them as well. (…)

The acting is uniformly strong. Fonseca has the look of a star, Stoltz is the film’s unstable emotional center, and Connor and even the children are solid. — The Film Yap

The film begins with Frank (Eric Stoltz) and Ruby Stirn (Connor), their two children, Lester (Marty Backstrand) and Gertie (Gara Lonning), and Ruby’s younger sister, Anna Gerkey (Lyndsy Fonseca) ,moving to Fort McCoy, where Frank will do his part for the war effort as a barber. When Gertie befriends the young German Heinrich, darker parts of the outwardly idyllic base come into view, including the presence of ideologically unrepentant SS soldiers and child molestation among the prisoners. (…)

“Fort McCoy” only touches lightly on these subjects, mostly because it is mired in several other subplots: Anna finds love in the form and shape of handsome G.I. Sam (Andy Hirsch); Frank feels jealous and inadequate because he cannot fight in the war; and a dangerous SS man threatens Ruby. (…)

Fortunately, most performances are more than up to par with the film’s lofty ambitions. Stoltz is entirely convincing as a man humbled by his German heritage and prevented from showing his American patriotism on the battlefield. Connor clearly proves that she can carry a lead, especially if it’s tailored to her period-piece-friendly looks. Fonseca is delightful as a young girl in love, with executive producer Hirsch also showing great potential as her paramour. — THR


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