The film's source play was nominated for the 1977 Tony Award for Best Play. But it won both the 1976 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play and the 1976 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play.
David Rabe's original source "Streamers" play was initially just a short one-act play known under the different title of "Knives" and written during the late 1960s before the first two parts of his Vietnam War trilogy of plays were first performed around 1971-72. Rabe expanded the one-act "Knives" play it into the full-length "Streamers" play whilst working as a reporter in New Haven, Connecticut during the mid-1970s.
The film's source David Rabe play "Streamers" is the final third part of Rabe's Vietnam War play trilogy. The first two parts were "Sticks and Bones" (1971) and "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel" (1972).