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No, seriously. "The Green Berets" is about as viable and creditable as
"The Boys in Company C" or "Casualties of War". It's hard to find a
Vietnam war movie that DOESN'T come full of distortions based on the
film makers political agendas; it's just this time "The Green Berets"
comes from the pro-involvement side.
We've heard the negatives about this movie, and most of them are basically correct but there are a few things to say that, if not positive, put the movie in a less negative light.
First, this isn't your usual piece about 19 year old conscripts being called up to fight in a war they don't understand. The real Special Forces are career professionals who have very high standards of training and discipline. "The Green Berets" isn't a movie about your average grunt; it's about commandos and a lot of the training, tactics and equipment is accurate for the time. The experience of the special forces in Vietnam was widely different from line conscripts; and they won a lot of victories.
Second, it was a bold move to make a movie about the Vietnam war whilst it was still going on. The movie was made shortly before the Tet Offensive of 1968 when the initiative was still with the US and South Vietnamese forces. This is a Vietnam war movie from the early part of the war...something "Platoon" falls down on is depicting the unit in a state of disorganisation, with the usual drug taking and indiscipline scenes that have become cliché, in 1967 when the reality was that discipline and cohesion in the field in '67 was a lot tighter. Stone depicts events that would not become common in front line troops until '69-'70. Yes, I know he served a tour of duty over there but a number of his fellow veterans have called his depiction of events into question.
Third, the early part of the movie with the relationships between US Special Forces officers and ARVN counterparts is fairly well done. The SF had been present in Vietnam from '62 onwards and by '67-'68 had built up a good working relationship with ARVN Ranger units (the only South Vietnamese army units that were well trained and led).
Now the pine tree issue. Well, I hate to break it to people but not all of Vietnam is palm trees and jungle. In the area of Cochinchina just north of Saigon and into the hilly Montangnard country, there are a lot of deciduous and evergreen trees. I was surprised to find this when doing research on the US 25th Infantry Division and finding a lot of their patrol area wasn't in jungle but hilly woodland. Pine trees maybe stretching things a little bit though but it's not impossible.
The politics. Yes, the Duke is on the right wing campaign trail but other film makers have used the Vietnam war to promote the liberal left agenda so I don't get why that is acceptable and an alternative view that doesn't conform to that is inherently wrong. The scene at the beginning of the movie has Aldo Ray explaining how China, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union were sending aid to North Vietnam...so Oliver Stone's assertions that the VC were self-liberating and proudly defiant are deeply wrong. The VC and NVA were tools of a communist regime that were being heavily supplied and subsidised by other Communist regimes. I'm not advocating that the US's involvement in a war in Vietnam was right, just that people understand the involvement of other nations as well.
For those who think this movie is bad because it doesn't depict American atrocities, drug taking and insubordination like other Vietnam war movies have merely bought into another set of falsehoods. This goes back to my original point; "The Green Berets" isn't particularly realistic...but then again, neither are most other movies about that war.
For the person who comments on there not being any pine trees in Viet
Nam. (as shown in the'Green Berets') Have you ever been to Viet Nam?
Sorry to inform you, but there ARE pine trees in Viet Nam. Try visiting
Lam Dong Province and I am sure you will realize your comments are
wrong. I am an American living and working here, and personally can
attest to this. You must take time to study the geography and flora of
this country and it will surprise you. In fact, there is desert here,
just like you might see in Arizona. It lies between Phan Tiet and Nha
Trang along the coast. Furthermore, if one converses with some of the
former Vietnamese soldiers who fought along-side the US here, you will
hear many stories of how they appreciated the US effort during the war.
Many tell me a different story that the US did belong here. Before
commenting-come and see for yourself.
It is probably impossible to assess the content of this film in other than
the context in which it was developed and presented. My own first viewing
was in 1968 a matter of mere weeks before having to report for duty in the
US Armed Forces. At that time I did not know whether or not I would have
go to Viet Nam as many of my friends already had. Some had already been
killed or wounded in action. In this context, the film is one I will never
John Wayne made this as a political film in an attempt to counter the rising tide of what he and others like him saw as treasonous protests against the government and the military over the conflict in Viet Nam. This horrid almost-war was tearing many families apart in controversy. Wayne wanted to make a patriotic statement of support for the Armed Forces who had been so good to him. He was denied several attempts at enlistment in WWII and was classified 4F. He made films to support the allied war effort then and hoped to show support again even though this was never a real war. Instead he was widely ridiculed by a rabid leftist press.
Yes, the film was definitely not accurate in the way we have come to demand of today's films. Such accuracy may have been impossible in the political climate of the day. There was deep seated anger in the upper military echelon for not being allowed to wage an actual war. Every engagement between forces was won by the Americans, but they were forbidden from the beginning to the end from pressing an attack. The result was perhaps history's worst military "Catch 22"; fight and then wait for the enemy to regroup, rearm and reattack. I still know military people who hate the entire media for the brow-beating they gave the military and Congress, who - in turn - forbade the military from pressing more aggressive action.
Wayne was also attempting to counter people in the entertainment industry whom he and others considered traitors (then and still) such as Jane Fonda, who visited and spoke in support of North Viet Nam.
It was this climate Wayne stepped into. His effort was genuine but it resulted in a cameo of the war rather than something palpable. Something that good has yet to be made. Much of what went on, real high drama and touching personal stories, has been almost entirely ignored by Hollywood. Thus, this also remains one of the few films of the hugely controversial era.
Although "They Were Expendable" is a better film overall, "Green
Berets" is also quite good, and both movies have a lot in common.
- They show the enemy as the enemy - vicious killers.
- And they show Americans as being flawed, but good & brave.
- They were both made *during* the war.
- Which means the outcome was unknown - would we win or lose? - And finally, they show that the Americans are there to HELP - The Americans were helping the Filipinos in WW2's They Were Expendable, and the South Vietnamese in Green Berets. They both treat their Asian allies as equals (no racism here).
Given all that, with movies that are nearly identical to one another in plot & purpose (rally the homefront to support the war), it seems odd the Green Berets is so hated, while They Were Expendable is so loved.
Having just watched both movies back-to-back on TCM and AMC, via Memorial Day marathons, I don't see why one is loved & the other hated. I thought John Wayne did an excellent job in both movies, and that both movies should be considered classics.
Bottom Line: If you have a chance to see either of these two movies, don't hesitate to sit down & enjoy them. They're definitely worth your time.
I was in 'Nam. When this came out, I tried to pick up my theater seat
and throw it at the screen - I liked John Wayne - but then he went
ahead and trashed everything I and my brothers went through - I am sick
of the stinking young pups who recite lies they hear from draft-dodgers
like Limbaugh and Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush, & co., thinking they are
doing me and my brothers honor. Denying reality is no honor. Refusing
to face facts is not courage. Distorting history don't help any of us
in any way.
The war was all heat and sweat and dirt and bugs - we were all down sick with something mostly. I never got to see the enemy up close alive, they were just blurs through the bush. Sometimes I didn't even look at them, I just pulled the trigger and hoped I kept breathing.
The locals hated us - even those who wanted us to stay and fight for them, so they wouldn't have to do it themselves. They kept trying to sell us cheap dope, cheap girls, and rancid meat, telling us it was "local cooking." It was clear that, behind their fear of us, their was a real contempt. The first three months, I thought I was fighting for my country; then all I was fighting for was to get home.
The 'commanding' officers, when we saw them, were all dressed fresh, washed and shaved. And well fed. I watched my best friend die with shrapnel tearing his guts into stringy beef for these b*st*rds- and now I'm supposed to praise some stupid Hollywood propaganda from WWII with the names all changed - and this does us honor?! This is supposed to be the "American" thing to do?! I thought forced culture was a Soviet idea - when did we suddenly go Bolshevik?
This was a good country until it started lying to itself. I did fight for America. I fought for the freedom guaranteed in the Constitution - the right to disagree. And those who don't like it can get bent.
I won't be lied to again. I was there. I know this war. And this piece of crap of a 'movie' ain't it.
When I first saw the Green Berets back in the late 1970's early 80's it
was widely criticized by contemporary film buffs as being jingoistic
and 'gun ho'. Obviously, with John Wayne being the leading role, it
only served to reinforce this view. Sure it is patriotic but no more
than many of the WWII and Korean War films that were made in the 1950's
and 1960's. So when recently I had a chance to see the movie, (the
first time in over 15 years) what I noticed was that it was actually a
refreshing change to the, anti- American, soul searching, self-loathing
anti Vietnam war movies made from the late 1970's onwards.
If the Green Berets was guilty of overdoing the nobility, and righteousness of the Vietnam War, the later movies only served to give comfort to the anti-war, self-indulgent Vietnam movement years later. Apocalypse now, the Deer hunter, Platoon, etc., (you know the ones) are just a few of the movies that ignored the barbarism of both the Viet Cong and Khamer rouge in indo-china, conveniently overlook the global political realities of the time as well as unfairly mock the military.
Years later, the Green Berets actually offer a different viewpoint. If one is to keep it into perspective it comes across quite well as it highlights how the US was welcomed in many parts of Vietnam and how indifferent the North Vietnamese were to their own people. The millions of people murdered in the communist controlled parts of Indo-china during and after the American withdrawal are well documented. Check the movie out
Probably the only major motion picture to actively support the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam conflict, John Wayne leads an elite team of Green Berets on a search-and-destroy mission to capture a leading NVA general. Well acted action film worthy of a look even if its sentiments might be a bit dated by today's standards.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The liberal reviewers of "The Green Berets" need to free their minds
from all of their 40 year-old irrational hate. "The Green Berets" is a
motion picture film, nothing more. Anyone who sees it has the right to
exercise their opinion and they are entitled to like or dislike this or
any other film. However, it is interesting how left-wing reviewers of
this film will go to such great lengths to mock and ridicule it.
Liberals are quick to point out that John Wayne was not in WWII which is somehow supposed to make him a bad guy because he portrayed soldiers in the movies. Really? Let's look at the reviews of Jane Fonda's films. Oops!, it looks like Jane has been portraying decent American citizens for years after she gave hugs & kisses to the Vietcong in Hanoi after they had killed Americans. "The Green Berets" is routinely viewed under a microscope with hyper-critical eyes looking for the slightest continuity error to exploit and exaggerate. It's interesting that "The Green Berets" and "The Hellfighters" were two films made back-to-back the same year (1968) with a nearly identical cast including John Wayne, Bruce Cabbot and Jim Hutton. Both films are action yarns with the only real difference being the enemy. In "The Green Berets" they fight the Vietcong. In "The Hellfighters" they fight oil fires. Take a look at the reviews left for "The Hellfighters". Most render praise for the acting, story and cast, noting that it is a worthwhile albeit 40 year-old action film. Considerably different from the vicious and offensive reviews given for "The Green Berets" to say the least. Is it likely that an ensemble cast used in both films, shot only months apart, gave bitterly disappointing and ridiculous performances in "The Green Berets" but then turned out memorable, well portrayed and entertaining performances in "The Hellfighters"? I think it's obvious that the people who bash "The Green Berets" have a problem with their political agenda, not the film or its players. Despite all of the John Wayne and America bashing infiltrated into the reviews for "The Green Berets", one fact still remains; fighting communism was a just and noble undertaking and the film conveys this. If any political system can be measured in a degree of evil, communism is at the top of the list. Roughly 4 times as many human lives have been senselessly murdered in the name of communism over those murdered by the Nazis during WWII. If it's okay with the liberals for a war film to show the U.S. fighting Nazis but it's not okay to show them fighting communists, their logic is seriously backward. In the case of the war in Vietnam, the people who bash "The Green Berets" should do a little more homework. The U.S. was obligated under treaty to help Vietnam fight a communist uprising. That's why we were there. If the U.S. had broken our treaty agreement and abandoned Vietnam, the same people who bash the U.S. for fighting the war today would be bashing the U.S. for leaving the Vietnamese high and dry. Communism in southeast Asia was a very real political, economic and military threat. The desire to keep the south free from unwanted communist rule and to keep communism at bay in Southeast Asia in general was a reasonable goal for the U.S. By the time American advisors started to arrive in Vietnam, the country had already obtained their independence from France so the U.S. certainly wasn't fighting for France or colonialism. I was alive during the Vietnam War and I remember the mood of the U.S at the time very clearly. Most people supported our troops. Unfortunately, 40 years later, the only people who are remembered are the war protesters which gives the impression that they were the majority. "The Green Berets" did not go against the mood of the country, it was right in line with the majority. Don't believe it? Take a look at the box office business this film did in 1968. It wasn't a blockbuster but it did very well. Also, the theme song "Ballad of the Green Berets" by Barry Saddler went to number one on the Billboard charts. The paperback book "The Green Berets" on which the film was loosely based was a nation wide best seller for months. Does anyone believe any of this success could have been achieved with a population who unanimously opposed the U.S. presents in Vietnam? Come on now, who are you trying to fool? In recent years it seems film makers feel compelled to portray American soldiers in Vietnam as murders, thieves, rapists, insane or bumbling inept leaders. In the film "Platoon", every bad thing that ever happened in Vietnam was condensed into the account of a single Army unit. People raved about how great a film it was. The unbelieveability of "Platoon" was like attributing every criminal act ever committed by an entire mafia family to one single character. It's just absurd and totally ridiculous. And some people call "The Green Berets" unbelievable!? Clearly, a film like "Platoon" was made for the single purpose of making American soldiers look bad. Pure anti-American hate propaganda. The very best thing about "The Green Berets" is its success. This film has continued to sell well in both video and DVD since the mid 1980's. It sells more home use copies than "Platoon" and "Full Metal Jacket" combined. People like this film and that's all that matters but the liberals just can't stand it.
Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide gave this movie a rating of BOMB.That is just
so ridiculous. Clearly, too many movie reviewers let their anti-Vietnam war
politics color their review of this movie. It has some pretty good action
scenes and holds your interest the whole way through the movie, although the
movie is a little long.This is not a great movie by any means, but it doesn't
deserve the absolute ridicule that the mostly left-wing movie critics have
given it. Even if you don't like the politics in the movie, I think you can
still enjoy it as an action/war film.
One final thing about the movie. The movie critics enjoy making fun of the final scene where John Wayne and the Vietnamese boy walk on the beach as the sun sets in the east. It is patently unfair to single out this movie scene as bad movie-making. Hollywood takes artistic license with movie scenes all the time. Most ignorant actors don't even know how to give a proper military salute when they play a soldier. Settings and locations in movies often have no resemblance to the places they are trying to portray in real life.
In short, forget the politics and just enjoy this decent war movie on its own merits.
It's easy to understand why so many viewers hated this movie. It goes
against everything the media and entertainment industries (The same
thing?) have put forth regarding the Vietnam War since the 1960s.
...Vietnam was a bad war, America was wrong, etc., while the North
Vietnamese and VC were just peace/freedom loving folk...
What was so wrong about trying to stem the tide of communism, or to prevent south Vietnam from falling to the communist north? "The Green Berets" made the case that it was a noble goal, and brave Americans worked hard to achieve it.
This is not the best war movie, or even the best Vietnam war movie out there. Mel Gibson's "We Were Soldiers" is far superior in that it is less overtly political, much more realistic, and still shows a positive view of the American effort in southeast Asia. Check it out.
The Green Berets: 5.5 of 10
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