Blue Sky (1994) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Jessica Lange stars in a period drama about a family moving to a military base, and she quickly becomes part of a cover-up involving nuclear bomb tests.

  • It's the early 1960s. Nuclear engineer Hank Marshall is a major in the US Army, he who works on top secret nuclear testing projects. Trouble follows him from posting to posting largely because of his mentally unstable wife, Carly Marshall, who is bipolar. During her manic phases, her already overt sexuality, which she models after such sex symbols as Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot, is ratcheted up a notch, that partying behavior which is mixed with less frequent phases of physically destructive behavior. Regardless, Hank and Carly love each other, Hank who would admit to himself that he enjoys the fact that other men find Carly attractive, which is partly why he allows her to act the way she does in public. In turn, they mutually love their now two teenaged daughters, Alex and Becky. Reassigned from their two year posting in Hawaii largely due to the ruckus Carly has caused there, they are next sent to Alabama, the base under the command of Vince Johnson, his wife, Vera Johnson, who heads the wives' welcoming committee. At an age of starting to test her own sexuality, Alex starts to date the Johnsons' son, Glenn. Due to no fault of his own, Hank faces some problems in the latest project on which he is working, code named Blue Sky. And Carly continues her regular behavior, which catches Vince's overtly wandering eye. These items in combination lead to the potential of the Marshalls' home life being pulled apart and Hank's career destroyed, both irreparably.

  • In the late 1950s, the U.S. Army assigns nuclear engineer Hank Marshall to an isolated weapons testing facility in Alabama. Hank causes waves with his superior officers due to his stance against the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. Marshall's wife, Carly, further aggravates the situation because of her emotional instability and flirtatious nature. The move to Alabama sends her into the arms of base commander Vince Johnson.

  • It's the early 1960s. Hank Marshall is a tough, square-jawed, strait-laced Army engineer and nuclear science expert, assigned to help conduct weapons-testing in America. Hank has become a thorn in the side of the US Army, though, for a couple of very different reasons. He is an outspoken opponent of atmospheric testing, though his superiors hold contrary views and want to squelch his concerns - and his reports. The other problem is his wife, Carly Marshall, who is voluptuous, fun-loving and emotionally vulnerable. Her antics are wreaking havoc in his personal life and stirring up intrigue at each Army base. While he's conducting A-bomb tests in Nevada, she succumbs to the advances of his superior officer. However, her infidelity is not the only dilemma that the Marshalls have to face. When a deadly military cover-up puts Hank in jeopardy, it's up to Carly to muster the courage and strength to save the man she loves.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • In 1962, Major Hank Marshall and his wife, Carly, are having marital problems because of the pressures of his job and her mental illness. Hank is a nuclear engineer who favors underground nuclear testing, an initiative code-named "Blue Sky", as opposed to above-ground, open-air detonations. Carly is a free spirit who appears to be mentally unbalanced and who is slowly being suffocated by domestic torpor and encroaching age. Her behavior embarrasses him, especially given the restrictions that prevail within a military base. Their move from Hawaii to an isolated base in Alabama alarms their oldest daughter, Alex, and sends Carly into a violent tantrum.

    The following day, Hank has his first meeting with base commander Colonel Vince Johnson, who rebuffs his underground testing initiative despite strong scientific support. Meanwhile, Vince's wife Vera welcomes Carly and invites her to a party organized by the base officers' wives. Carly gets drunk at the party and demonstrates exotic dancing skills. Vera begs her husband to do something about her, to which Vince agrees but says he'll have to get Hank out of the way first.

    Alex starts dating Vince's son Glen and on their first date finds what she takes to be a dud grenade. It explodes, alerting the whole base to their relationship and giving Vince more reason to get rid of Hank. Carly is invited by the other officers' wives to join them for a dance recital, and fills her time rehearsing for it. Hank is sent to the Nevada Test Site to supervise the first underground test under Lieutenant Colonel Robert Jennings.

    During the first test, Hank notices two cowboys in the test area and attempts to have Robert abort the test, but Robert refuses, explicitly telling Hank that he is not concerned with the cowboys' health or their lives, and sends Hank back to Alabama. While Hank is away, Alex and Glen discover Vince sent Hank away just so he could have an affair with Carly.

    Hank learns of the affair at the dance recital and reacts violently, after which he is given two options: have his wife and commanding officer court-martialed with him, or spend time in a psychiatric hospital receiving therapy over how the news has affected him. In debating the decision it quickly comes to light that a court martial would require bringing the incident with the cowboys out in public. Hank is eventually committed to the hospital.

    The hospital keeps him so heavily sedated he is unable to leave. Carly, suspecting there is a reason for this, digs through Hank's papers and finds the report about the two cowboys. She drives across the country with her daughters and finds the cowboys with visible radiation sickness. She begs them to bring their story to the press, but the cowboys refuse, so she steals one of their horses and rides into the test site, intent on repeating their experience to get the attention of the press. She is arrested, which gets the attention of the press, and Robert is forced to let her, and Hank, go.

    She returns home to find Hank waiting for her, having quit that morning, and that Vince has been relieved of his duties. Hank tells her he found a new job in California, and the family happily moves.

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