Blue Sky (1994) Poster

(1994)

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9/10
Sending Tommy Away So Jessica Can Play
bkoganbing10 September 2007
In its only nomination in the Oscar sweepstakes for 1994 Jessica Lange won for Best Actress in Blue Sky. After watching Blue Sky I can certainly see why.

Blue Sky is set in the years of the Kennedy Administration and it's plot concerns a dedicated Army Major, Tommy Lee Jones and his family consisting of wife Jessica Lange and daughters Amy Locane and Anna Klump.

Jones is more than an army officer, he's a nuclear scientist and deeply concerned about the collateral effects of radiation on the population. I well remember the time. President Eisenhower in his second term of office made an unilateral executive decision to stop above ground nuclear testing, but the Russians continued. I well remember Premier Khrushchev in a bit of saber rattling, exploded a one hundred megaton hydrogen bomb.

Anyway President Kennedy decided at one point to resume nuclear testing to get the Russians back to the bargaining table for a nuclear test ban treaty. That's the background for this story and we all know that the first thaw in the Cold War was that test ban treaty that was ratified during the summer of 1963.

Anyway Jones is looking to ban it all, writing all kinds of reports that the army isn't taking too seriously and in fact transfers him from California to Alabama where he's told in no uncertain terms by his commander Powers Boothe to cool it. The military wasn't exactly thrilled with what Kennedy was trying to do.

But Jones has some pressing concerns on the domestic front. Jessica Lange is a lusty woman with needs and her husband isn't doing right by her. She looks like Marilyn Monroe and really does have all the army polishing its brass for her. Including Powers Boothe who sends Jones away so they can play.

It all ends in disaster, but Jessica summons up a lot more character than we would have first given her credit for to right the situation. It's in those last scenes that Jessica Lange brought home Oscar.

Young Chris O'Donnell is in the cast as well as Carrie Snodgrass as the son and wife of Boothe and O'Donnell the young man about to go to West Point finds out just what kind of rat his father really is. And Boothe does very well as the rat.

But in the last twenty minutes of the film Jessica's change in character dominates the film and it's reason enough to check out Blue Sky
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An Oscar-Winning Role We Almost Missed
tfrizzell27 June 2000
1994 was a year of weak female performances, but Jessica Lange's Oscar-winning turn in "Blue Sky" is a real sight to behold. She stars as the alcoholic wife of a well-to-do military nuclear engineer (Tommy Lee Jones). Jones knows of a cover-up by the military to keep nuclear testing in Nevada a secret in the early-1960s. This testing has no visual effect on anything in the environment (thus the name "Blue Sky"). Needless to say this is an intriguing film that is somewhat based on true testing which took place in sparsely populated areas of Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico in the late-1950s and early-1960s. However, this film almost never saw the light of day. It was produced in 1991, but sat in an Orion Pictures vault for over three years. The film was finally released to generate revenue for the soon to be disbanded Orion. No one was ever clear on why the film was not initially released in 1991. Many speculate that director Tony Richardson's AIDS-related death may have had something to do with the studio's reluctance to release the film. This is just speculation, there is no proof of that. Its inability to get released is a bit of a mystery though. I mean a film with Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones should have no trouble being released in my mind. Anyhow, this is Jessica Lange's greatest role. Tommy Lee Jones and Powers Boothe also give great supporting turns. 4 out of 5 stars.
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7/10
Jessica Lange was unbelievable
lingmeister8 April 2002
The film is about the relationship of husband and wife, their troubles and how they cope with it. It also had a side plot about underground nuclear testing, which I don't think was that powerful or had that much of an impact for it to carry though as the finale, which also seem to be wrapped up uneventfully.

But the main story is their troubled relationship, and how through good, bad and worse they get through it with each other's support. Jessica Lange's performance as an unstable woman was amazing, not over the top in which it would have been typically done, but was portrayed truely and its fine nuance conveyed the subtle change in her mental state.
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7/10
A bimbo is not always what she seems.
lib-410 October 1998
wow! Jessica Lange is so good in this movie it is embarrassing! She owns the screen in every one of her scenes. Tommy Lee Jones to his credit- lets her be the star of the movie. Though the plot is a little implausible- just like David sent off Bathsheba's husband to certain death- to seduce her- the army didn't reckon with the power of a strong and slightly crazy woman. The teenagers in the film add to its poignancy. On the surface the Marshall family seems dysfunctional- but actually- with love they function very well.
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9/10
Never take a pretty woman...
lastliberal30 March 2007
There is an old Calypso ditty that states "If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never take a pretty woman to be your wife." If you want to have a career in the Army, you might also want to avoid bi-polar women.

Tommy Lee Jones (The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada) was an Army Major, a nuclear engineer working on atomic tests, that had a gorgeous wife who was a little crazy. Jessica Lange (Broken Flowers) was awesome as his wife and won every award that year for her performance. She deserved every win in a movie that was a testament to love. No matter how crazy, Major Marshall (Jones) was there for her because of his love. And her love brought her out of her disorder long enough to save him.

This was director Tony Richardson's last film and he made it a winner all the way.
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6/10
Story Is Not Much, But Lange Is A Hoot
ccthemovieman-115 July 2007
This film had some really interesting scenes that made me watch the movie twice but that was enough. The story overall is a bit too messy.

Jessica Lange was a hoot as the manic-depressive flirtatious wife of Army Major "Hank Marshall." Boy, poor Hank had his hands full with "Carly" as his wife. Lange plays the role a little over-the-top but that's what makes her interesting here. It turns out to be a military soap opera film, if there is such a thing.

The soap angle came in not just between the Major trying to control his out-of- control wife, but the couple's poor daughters who had to live with this under their roof. Amy Klempp and Amy Locane played the sympathetic daughters.

There's more to the story, such as incidental things like nuclear bomb testing but, believe-it-or-not, that takes a back seat to Jones and Lange's marital woes. Frankly. when I write this, over 10 years after seeing the film, I wonder why I bothered watching this twice. I was a big fan of Jones, and maybe that was it, plus Lange looked good back then playing the blonde bombshell. This is one of the last films in which she looked this good as her "Tootsie" days were starting to wan.
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8/10
As "Lange" as the sky is blue...
lee_eisenberg17 October 2005
Tony Richardson's final film was well-done. Carly Marshall (Jessica Lange) is the wife of military guy Hank Marshall (Tommy Lee Jones) in charge of atomic tests. Due to his frequent absence, she's beginning to lose her grip on mental sanity. Somewhere along the line, she reaches the breaking point, which also makes her see the folly in Hank's propagandistic work. She has no choice but to undermine it.

Jessica Lange finally won a well-deserved Best Actress Oscar for "Blue Sky" (she should have gotten one for "Frances"). Maybe some parts are a little hokey, but it's overall a good movie, looking at the nuclear age and also relationships.
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4/10
Doesn't live up to it's own ambition.
Sleeper-Cell15 December 2018
You get the sense that we are meant to walk away from this film thinking it was something really special. Lange even won an Oscar for playing the bi polar slutty housewife.

I can't help but feel that it all falls apart, especially in the second half. Things get wrapped up far too quickly and easily, nothing though is really resolved, especially in a realistic manner.

In the end it's another film that leaves you wanting to watch something good.
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6/10
A crazy sexpot wife, but... worthy
Wuchakk11 April 2013
Shot in the Fall/Spring of 1989-90, "Blue Sky" wasn't actually released until 1994. The story involves a military family in the early 60s who move to an Alabama base. The wife (Jessica Lange) is erratic & bipolar and behaves like a loony Marilyn Monroe while the husband (Tommy Lee Jones) is unshakably faithful. The two daughters lament their mother's disorder, but the family's strong nevertheless. When the father goes to Nevada to work with bomb testing the commander of the base (Powers Boothe) has his eyes on the sexpot wife.

I don't follow film awards, but Jessica won an Oscar for her performance as the hysterical wife and she deserved it. For this reason many hail the first two acts of the film, and Tommy Lee as well. Unfortunately, her character comes across as unlikable and even scary. You start to feel sad for the daughters!

Some people criticize Boothe as being too dastardly of a villain. Don't believe it. Do these critics really think there aren't any high-ranking military personnel with a Genghis Khan complex? Men who think they're above the rules and can get away with anything their arrogant butts' desire? Boothe's character comes across as a solid military leader who's tempted by a subordinate's sultry wife and then does everything he can to save himself. This type of behavior is older than David and Bathsheba.

Some complain about how unbelievable the last act is. Two things: (1.) This is a movie and movies always amp up the dramatics. The filmmakers essentially have to do this because, well, it's a movie and they only have 2 hours to tell the story. (2.) Besides, the film's making a point about Lange's character and it's important to the story. ***SPOILER ALERT*** It shows that, as erratic and unlikable as she is in the first two acts, she redeems herself by literally risking everything for her husband. It's a powerful and necessary point. ***END SPOILER***

This is also a good film about life on a military base, like "The Great Santini" with some similarities to "Desert Bloom", albeit not quite as good as either.

The film was shot in Selma, Alabama, Florida and El Paso, Texas. It runs 101 minutes.

GRADE: B
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6/10
A Lesson in Acting
antileft24 October 2008
It is always a pleasure to watch giants in some film which is driven not by effects , explosions and rap-style language but by old-fashioned story and , simply , eye-popping acting , and two main actors , Mr T. Jones and , specially , Mme J. Lange deliver this in full . This smaller , cheaper film deals with the relationships between the military personnel and their spouses , where J. Lange portrays perfectly a lascivious southern belle with too grand illusions of an acting career, who with her sexual escapades becomes a sort of house-hold name in all the bases her husband is sent to , she being slightly neurotic , while tensions and constant arguments between the two are a norm , and their two beautiful daughters watch this in silence , being even more mature then their own mother . It is interesting to see Jones 's character always forgiving his wife , loving her completely , never hitting her , or calling her names .And when the viewer is almost certain that a typical and clichéd climax is inevitable , i.e. a fight between the couple with him stabbing his wife , the film takes a completely different turn , where Lange's character shows her southern true mettle and love for her husband, who becomes a victim of higher national interests . Briefly , a school of great , traditional acting ,light years away from today's self-proclaimed thespians with artificially rounded lips or feminine neurotic outbursts for no reasons , being on the same level as small children demanding a candy .
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4/10
Jessica Lange's Oscar bait
HotToastyRag18 December 2018
Jessica Lange fans are going to want to rent Blue Sky, the movie that gave her her Best Actress Oscar she'd been coveting since 1982's loss for Frances. Once again, she plays a mentally ill, beautiful woman, but this time, she wasn't up against unbeatable competition from Sophie's Choice, so she took home her statuette.

Personally, I liked Frances infinitely better than Blue Sky, because Jessica's character was more likable and understandable. In this 1994 movie, she plays an insane, dissatisfied housewife who continually embarrasses her husband, Tommy Lee Jones, who has a high-pressure government job. Jessica is unfaithful, loud, inappropriate, and crazy, but she seemed to lack motivation. In Frances, you could feel what she was going through and understood why she acted the way she did. In Blue Sky, it just feels like she wanted an Oscar.

I'm not painting a very complimentary picture of Jessica Lange, but I just didn't happen to like this movie. I'm actually a great fan of hers and think she usually gives emotional, vulnerable, realistic performances in her other movies. If you feel like renting this heavy drama, go ahead, but be prepared to take it with a grain of salt and rent another of her movies if you don't like it.
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5/10
lose the silly plot
ahearn0216 January 2004
Lange's convincing portrayal of the neurotic, alcoholic wife, and Tommy Lee's loving, patient coping-with (and covering for) her erraticisms make for a memorable first half. Unfortunately, the whole thing crashes down into preposterous infantile fantasy, with the woman unaccountable metamorphosing into a combination of Nancy Drew and all three of Charlie's Angels to save her husband from durance vile (Beethoven did it better in Fidelio)... As a guy, I'm not supposed to like "relationship" movies, but this one would have been infinitely better left as exactly that, with the comic-book adventure left out.
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Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones shine in soap opera storyline.
movieman921 February 1999
I have admired Jessica Lange's acting ability for years. She is able to convey a bimbo-like image with such intelligence and strength, an achievement that few actresses could pull off well. It's easy to see from BLUE SKY why Lange was chosen to play Blanche Dubois in the TV version of "A Streetcar Named Desire." She plays in this Oscar-winning role an emotionally unbalanced wife and mother named Carly, the type of woman that makes small-town wives fend for the safety of their marriages. She is very sensual, sometimes obnoxious, and definitely a show-stopper. Tommy Lee Jones is a nuclear scientist employed in the military during the early sixties, fearful of another meltdown. He also has to secure his wife's sexual appetites, which could easily get out of control, especially around a libido-driven sargent played by Powers Boothe. The nuclear storyline, almost a backdrop,gets in the way of the meat of the plot, that of the sensuous Lange and the two daughters. I'm not saying the actors in this film don't have power, they most certainly do, but they seem to be caught in a run-of-the-mill soap opera coloured by nuclear testing. Jessica Lange does have an award-worthy part to play, but it belongs with more powerful material, reminiscent of something like "Streetcar."
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10/10
Jessica Lange is Stunning!
namashi_113 March 2012
Jessica Lange's Oscar-Winning Performance in 'Blue Sky', is Stunning! The 2-Time Academy-Award Winning Legendary Actress once again lights the screen on fire by delivering such a stunning performance.

'Blue Sky' is set in the 1960's, where a nuclear engineer faces a lot of difficulties in his professional & personal life.

'Blue Sky' is a depressing film. The journey its characters go through, the entire story, is very depressing. But, that's exactly how this story is supposed to be: Difficult & Unsettling. It's certainly not meant for the Faint-Hearted, as the drama in here is No-Holds-Barred.

Rama Laurie Stagner, Arlene Sarner & Jerry Leichtling's Screenplay is devastating & very effective. Tony Richardson's Direction is good. Cinematography, Editing & Art Design, are nice.

Lange's Oscar-Winning Performance is the prime reason to watch 'Blue Sky'. It's an unforgettable performance, that leaves an haunting impact. Also Terrific is Tommy Lee Jones, who plays the troubled husband, with great control & understanding.

On the whole, 'Blue Sky' is depressing, but Lange's Oscar-Winning Performance makes it a must see. Strongly Recommended!
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Blue Sky
Coxer995 July 1999
Powerful drama about a reserved military man who deals with constant embarasssment at the hands of his sexually frustrated wife. He loves her, but doesn't really know what to do with her. Superb performances by Jones and Lange (Oscar winner) highlight the film, while the story loses interest when the focus shifts more toward a nuclear cover up involving Jones.
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5/10
Just doesn't work for me.
dminkster19 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The problem comes from the fact that I (and my wife) found it hard to watch Lang's performance and feel much, if any sympathy for her. Yeah, sure, she's bi-polar, but so what? She needs to be taking her meds, although being married to enabler Tommy Lee, who has seemingly never asked himself (or her). 'what the heck are you doin' and why?' has added to the problem. The film takes it's time setting up the crisis, then solves it easily and quickly. But, as they all ride off into the sunset, laughing, you have to ask yourself, 'when is this going to happen again?' And, when it does, what will happen then? No reason to suspect things will be any better, or any different. Which is also fine, but then, why are they laughing?

Sorry, for me, it simply doesn't generate any sympathy or empathy for the lead characters. It may be good acting, but the director needed to take a hard look at the lack of empathy created and do something about it.
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Clear skies ahead
mgsibley_20007 March 2000
Tommy Lee Jones is one of my favorite actors since I saw U.S. Marshals." Jones is an actor with a heart, integrity and charisma that only a few other actors have in my opinion. Since "U.S. Marshals," I have vowed to watch all of his films either in theaters or on tape to enjoy his range of acting.

Jones leads an all-star cast in this superb film "Blue Sky."

This is an epic film with characters that make the viewer want to care about them.

One of the best parts of "Blue Sky" is the fact that there were several plots, which worked because they all came together well.

I enjoyed how Tommy Lee Jones and Jessica Lange reciprocated their love for one another. For example, at the beginning when Lange's character was going through a difficult time Jones was there. The favor was returned when the roles were reversed.

This film truly is one of the best films i have seen so far because it shows the strength of love and relationship and how they hold up during good times and bad.
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4/10
bottom falls out
eddiechuculate-212 July 2000
this was interesting up to a point; unfortunately, right when an audience expects the best from a movie -- for it to deliver -- this movie falls flat on its face with one of the most undramatic and implausible endings i've seen in quite a while. also, it's hopelessly outdated.
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6/10
A cliffhanger performance by Lange in a melodrama too ambitious for its own good...
moonspinner5524 June 2010
"Blue Sky" might have made for a great night of television had it premiered on HBO or Showtime as a cable-film. With somewhat reduced expectations coupled with the intimacy of watching the movie on the small screen, one might be inclined to forgive the film for its lack of scope. Set in Alabama in the mid-1950s, Jessica Lange plays an Army Engineer's wife and the mother of two young girls who is tired of being dragged from one military home to the next. She harbors a dangerous, possibly manic-depressive side, and makes life difficult for everybody--leaving a trail of gossip and bad blood behind her. Tommy Lee Jones is her patient, loving husband, and Powers Boothe is Jones' newest Commanding Officer who sees only Lange's sexy externals and desires her. All three performances are very good (with Lange winning the Best Actress Oscar, possibly due to a slow year for women in film), however the picture takes a wrong turn in its third act and finishes limply. Wolfish Boothe becomes a deceitful villain (as if being a cheating husband wasn't quite enough), while Lange's volatile Carly is sent out on a limb to save her husband from the clutches of the ignorant, power-hungry government. Had the script stayed true to the character conflicts (which would have matched the film's modest budget), this may have been an effective little soaper. But there are too many ambitious ideas cranked out in the final stages, and the editing darts around trying to round off scenes which are squashy and dramatically unfulfilled. It isn't the fault of the actors; the movie becomes so hectic in its plotting that the puny returns we do get (and the overall lack of vision) are not enough to satisfy. "Blue Sky" bites off more than it can possibly chew. **1/2 from ****
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Seen it, and was IN it
chip985 June 1999
Jessica Lange's supporting-actress Oscar is one of a few noteworthy things about the abysmally boring "Blue Sky." Viewing it by rental, I rewound it little more than halfway through and promptly returned it--its rare interesting scenes just weren't enough. Sub-mediocre melodrama hobbled further by an antiquated Hollywood anti-nuclear slant. Geez, won't they ever quit? Sadly, Mr. Richardson's last film.

Some trivia:

Shot in 1990, but not released until 1995, as Orion Pictures was mired in Chapter 11 litigation.

Nearly all of it was filmed in Alabama, including Pacific island scenes which really didn't fool anyone.

At what is now a de-commissioned Army air base outside Selma, AL, I was one of Blue Sky's extras, a soldier marching at the head of a parade column through which Miss Lange's character barrels through with her 50's Buick. (I think it was a Buick.) The first really hot day of summer '90, and I will always remember Mr. Richardson wearing a windbreaker. He gave me a line: "Look out!", which ended up on the cutting-room floor, no great loss.

An observation: our infantry rifles were manufacturer-stamped "Blue Sky Industries--Virginia" on the barrels. Either a coincidence, or these were custom-made (and expensive) props.

At the casting call in Montgomery prospects were given lines ("sides") to try on-camera. My sides were from an excerpt that was a bald-faced and senseless humiliation of an Army officer, which I don't think made it through final editing and perhaps was never shot. Seen perhaps out of context but the feeling was plainly anti-military, akin to 1960's Billy Jack-style agitprop. (See title "Billy Jack") The hippies are still with us, alas.
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10/10
Lange's Oscar well deserved....
sackofdogmeat19 September 2003
One of the most deserved oscars in history. Jessica Lange's powerful portrayl of a wild, vivacious, before her time woman who's loving husband is in the army. Every so often, Carly (Lange)and her husband Hank (in a powerful performance by Tommy Lee Jones) and their two daughters are transferred across the world to different army bases. When Hank is said to have been unfortunately diagnosed with radiation because of operation: Blue Sky,he is put into a mental institution. Carly discovers Hank is perfectly okay, she goes on a determined spree (with her daughters)endeavoring to get Hank out. One of Lange's best films... highly underrated.
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9/10
America in the 1950's , this is a moody drama
MarieGabrielle21 February 2006
set in the atomic era. Tony Richards and the set decorators did a perfect job of recreating the 1950's decor, attitudes, conflicting morality and American paranoia.

Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones are excellent, they seem to have a believable chemistry. (Why does Tommy Lee Jones do roles like "Men in Black"?; he is such a talented dramatic actor). Powers Boothe is also good, and Carrie Snodgress plays his long-suffering wife. Chris O'Donnell is the son who eventually becomes disillusioned with his father, and the army as well.

While I tend to agree that the ending was a bit too formulaic, this film has good performers, an interesting theme, and a reflection of times in America which were not so innocent and family oriented after all. America was hijacked by politics and bureaucracy, much the same as today. Worth watching.
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Nothing but clear skies
michaelsibley4166 September 2004
Tommy Lee Jones is one of my favorite actors since I saw U.S. Marshals." Jones is an actor with a heart, integrity and charisma that only a few other actors have in my opinion. Since "U.S. Marshals," I have vowed to watch all of his films either in theaters or on tape to enjoy his range of acting. Jones leads an all-star cast in this superb film "Blue Sky."

This is an epic film with characters that make the viewer want to care about them. One of the best parts of "Blue Sky" is the fact that there were several plots, which worked because they all came together well.

I enjoyed how Tommy Lee Jones and Jessica Lange reciprocated their love for one another. For example, at the beginning when Lange's character was going through a difficult time Jones was there. The favor was returned when the roles were reversed.

This film is one of the best films because it shows the strength of love and relationship and how they hold up during good times and bad.
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8/10
Extremely Watchable
speedyholm17 March 2002
Everything works just fine in this movie. Tommy Lee hits just the right combination between the Military man and the affectioned husbond. And Jessica Lange glows all the way through the movie. Amy Locane, Powers Boothe, Chris O Donnel and the rest makes it all work. Despite all that happens to this family, love keeps them together. Higly recommendable.
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7/10
Lange is magnificent (as usual)
ewa-313 October 2000
This was barely released and it shows--ending seems overly contrived and tacked on, the focus of the action (and our interest) swings wildly between three characters, but Jessica Lange is incandescent. Her performance is shockingly good, even for her.
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