IMDb > Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (1987) (TV)
Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam
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Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (1987) (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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Up 13% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Bill Couturié (screenplay)
Richard Dewhurst (screenplay)
View company contact information for Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
September 1988 (USA) See more »
Feature-length documentary film featuring real-life letters written by American soldiers, sailors, airmen... See more » | Add synopsis »
Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 5 wins & 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Once I Was See more (26 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Tom Berenger ... (voice)

Ellen Burstyn ... Mrs. Stocks (voice)

J. Kenneth Campbell ... (voice)

Richard Chaves ... (voice)

Josh Cruze ... (voice)

Willem Dafoe ... Elephant Grass (voice)

Robert De Niro ... Great Sewer (voice)

Brian Dennehy ... (voice)

Kevin Dillon ... Jack (voice)

Matt Dillon ... Mike (voice) (unconfirmed)

Robert Downey Jr. ... (voice)

Michael J. Fox ... Pfc. Raymond Griffiths (voice)

Mark Harmon ... (voice)

John Heard ... Johnny Boy (voice) (unconfirmed)
Fred Hirz ... (voice)

Harvey Keitel ... 2nd Lt. Donald Jacques (voice)

Elizabeth McGovern ... Me (voice)

Judd Nelson ... (voice)

Sean Penn ... (voice)

Randy Quaid ... Cpl. Kevin Macaulay (voice)
Timothy Patrick Quill ... (voice) (as Tim Quill)

Eric Roberts ... (voice)
Ray Robertson ... (voice)

Howard E. Rollins Jr. ... (voice) (as Howard Rollins Jr.)

John Savage ... (voice)

Raphael Sbarge ... (voice)

Martin Sheen ... Alan (voice)

Tucker Smallwood ... (voice)
Roger Steffens ... (voice)
Jim Tracy ... (voice)

Kathleen Turner ... 1st Lt. Lynda Van Devanter (voice)

Tico Wells ... (voice)

Robin Williams ... Baby-san (voice)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Denis Boileau ... Récitant / Narrator (voice: French version)
David Brinkley ... Himself - NBC Newsman (archive footage)
Fred DeBrine ... Himself - NBC Newsman (voice) (archive footage)

Alain Delon ... Récitant / Narrator (voice: French version)

Brigitte Fossey ... Récitante / Narrator (voice: French version)
Greg Germain ... Récitant / Narrator (voice: French version)

Annie Girardot ... Récitante / Narrator (voice: French version)
Edgar Givry ... Récitant / Narrator (voice: French version)

Hervé Icovic ... Récitant / Narrator (voice: French version)

Valérie Kaprisky ... Récitante / Narrator (voice: French version)
Gilles Laurent ... Récitant / Narrator (voice: French version)
Jean-Pierre Leroux ... Récitant / Narrator (voice: French version)
Christophe Malavoy ... Récitant / Narrator (voice: French version)
Laurent Malet ... Récitant / Narrator (voice: French version)
Frank McGee ... Himself - NBC Newsman (voice) (archive footage)
Michel Mella ... Récitant / Narrator (voice: French version)

Edwin Newman ... Himself - NBC Newsman (archive footage)
Florent Pagny ... Récitant / Narrator (voice: French version)
Jack Perkins ... Himself - NBC Newsman (voice) (archive footage)
Patrick Poivey ... Récitant / Narrator (voice: French version)
Howard Tuckner ... Himself - NBC Newsman (voice) (archive footage)
Sander Vanocur ... Himself - NBC Newsman (archive footage)

Bob Hope ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

John Lennon ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Yoko Ono ... Herself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Directed by
Bill Couturié  (as Bill Couturie)
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Bill Couturié  screenplay (as Bill Couturie)
Richard Dewhurst  screenplay

Produced by
Thomas Bird .... producer
Bill Couturié .... producer (as Bill Couturie)
Bernard Edelman .... associate producer
Original Music by
Todd Boekelheide 
Cinematography by
Michael Chin 
Film Editing by
Stephen Stept 
Gary Weimberg 
Casting by
Pat Golden 
Barbara Ligell 
John McCabe 
Makeup Department
Jim Gillespie .... makeup department head
Production Management
B.Z. Petroff .... production manager
Kathryn Witte .... post-production supervisor
Sound Department
Haskell V. Anderson III .... additional dialogue recordist
Mark Berger .... supervising re-recording mixer
Todd Boekelheide .... sound re-recording mixer
Richard Chaves .... additional dialogue recordist
Josh Cruze .... additional dialogue recordist
Anna Davis .... assistant sound editor
Will Harvey .... sound re-recording mixer
Howard Mungo .... additional dialogue recordist
Douglas Murray .... synclavier sound effects
Larry Oatfield .... assistant sound editor (as E. Larry Oatfield)
Philip Rogers .... sound recordist
Greg Shaw .... synclavier sound effects
Robert Shoup .... supervising sound editor
Jeffery Stephens .... assistant sound editor (as Jeffrey Stephens)
Dennie Thorpe .... foley artist
Jeff Watts .... sound editor
Camera and Electrical Department
John Armstrong .... still photographer: title photographs, Camera 3
Peter Crosman .... still photographer: title photographs, Camera 3
Editorial Department
Anne Davis .... assistant editor
Doug Jones .... negative conformer
Devon Miller .... assistant editor
Catherine Ryan .... assistant editor
Julie Stept .... assistant editor (as Jules Stept)
Music Department
Gary Clayton .... original music recording
Ben Edmonds .... music consultant
Geoffrey Menin .... legal counsel: music
Merril Wasserman .... music clearance
Other crew
Phillip Arterbury .... original letter source
Joseph Bersh Jr. .... original letter source
George T. Boks .... archive source: Super 8 footage
Alan Bourne .... original letter source
David Bowman .... original letter source
Alan Brudno .... original letter source
Jack Calamia .... original letter source
Richard Cantale .... original letter source
Rodney Chastant .... original letter source
Richard Chaves .... archive source: Super 8 footage
Cathleen Cordova .... original letter source
Robert Devlin .... original letter source
John Di Fusco .... technical advisor
Bernard Edelman .... book editor: for The New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission
Peter Elliott .... original letter source
Alexander Douglas Grant .... additional stock footage researcher: Great American Stock
Ray Griffiths .... original letter source (as Ray Griffiths)
James Hebron .... original letter source
Doug Jones .... archive source: Super 8 footage
Marion 'Sandy' Kempner .... original letter source
Richard Kepro .... archive source: Super 8 footage
Roy Kissin .... editorial systems analyst
John J. Koshel .... film librarian
Dennis Lane .... original letter source
Richard Loffler .... original letter source
Gregory Lusco .... original letter source
Kevin Macaulay .... original letter source
William Maguire Jr. .... original letter source
Kati Meister .... film research supervisor
Joseph Morrissey .... original letter source
Edward Murphy .... original letter source
George Olsen .... original letter source
Allen Paul .... original letter source
Thomas Jean Pierre Pellaton .... original letter source
Robert Ransom Jr. .... original letter source
Michael Rush .... original letter source
Robert Salerni .... original letter source
James Schubert .... original letter source
James Simmen .... original letter source
William Stocks .... original letter source
Richard Strandberg .... original letter source
Jack Swender .... original letter source
Lynda Van Devanter .... original letter source
Ray Wahl .... original letter source
Victor David Westphall III .... original letter source
George Williams .... original letter source
Eleanor Wimbish .... original letter source
Phillip Woodall .... original letter source
Steve York .... archive source: additional stock footage
Richard Downing .... acknowledgment: reprints of still photographs
Robert Ellison .... acknowledgment: archive still photographs provided by, Blackstar Photo Agency
Ron Hosberle .... acknowledgment: archive still photographs provided by
Dana A. Penland .... acknowledgment: archive still photographs provided by
Mark Stanoch .... thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Germany:83 min | USA:84 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Mrs. Stocks:[In a letter to her KIA son, left at the Vietnam Memorial] Dear Bill, I came to this black wall again, to see and touch your name. William R. Stocks. And as I do, I wonder if anyone ever stops to realize that next to your name, on this black wall, is your mother's heart. A heart broken fifteen years ago today...See more »
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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful.
Once I Was, 13 July 2006
Author: krorie from Van Buren, Arkansas

This is undoubtedly the best documentary about our involvement in Vietnam. Director, co-writer, co-producer Bill Couturié reteaches documentary hounds how it is done, following in the footsteps of such mighty mentors as Robert J. Flaherty. The only talking heads seen in "Letters Home...." are those from the era via old newsreels, TV broadcasts, Presidential addresses, Congressional comments, and such. "Letters Home...." also represents one of the best integrations of historical events with music from the period under study.

Couturie in being as objective as possible for anyone who lived through the Vietnam era, shows the horrors, political machinations, and atrocities of the war along side the bravery, patriotism, and sacrifice made by those young men and women who faced death on a daily basis. The unnecessary murder of students at Kent State by the Ohio National Guard is highlighted along side the letter from a grunt in Vietnam asking Americans to be as concerned about the thousands of their countrymen dying in the jungles of Southeast Asia as they are about the four who died in the Kent State massacre.

One sees first hand how a minor brush fire in a distant corner of the world becomes a conflagration that nearly destroys a great nation, how politicians such as the Texas anachronism Lydon B. Johnson and the paranoid Richard M. Nixon continue a conflict after it becomes apparent even to those fighting the war that victory has become an illusion. One thinks of those gallant Americans who continued to lay their lives on the line during the gradual retreat, knowing that the cause for which they were fighting was now fleeting.

The documentary consists of letters written home by America men and women serving in Vietnam. Tragically, most of the authors of the letters were casualties of the war. Many of the voices will be recognizable by the viewer because they are still actors and actresses who are currently making movies. Such dramatic readings add to the overall effect of this powerful film.

The heart of this documentary is paying tribute to American fighting forces who battled against all odds for their country and the freedom for which it stands. The ending is particularly moving with a letter from Mrs. Stocks left at the Vietnam Memorial, the Black Wall as she calls it, for her KIA son: "I would rather to have had you for twenty-one years and all the pain that goes with losing you, than never to have had you at all. -Mom."

Though the crux of the movie is dead serious, there is much humor strewn about to ease the effect of the brutal footage shown; otherwise, the documentary would have been much too morose to watch for nearly one and a half hours. One letter talks about the water tasting like p*ss; another from a wounded grunt tells his mother (can you believe?) that the bullet came too close to his pecker for comfort. There is also news footage of grunts clowning around in camp (one takes out his false teeth for the camera; another exhibits his less than adequate family jewels). The documentary begins with soldiers having fun surfing in the ocean as "Wipe Out" is played in the background. This is interrupted by Hughies peppering the ground with bullets. There is a respite from the horrendous shots of bodies floating in the Mekong as people cruise by nonchalantly in boats, with a Bob Hope show featuring beautiful young women and a rowdy audience of soldiers. One young man is asked by Bob Hope how he likes Miss India. Stumbling for an answer since he knows he's on camera, the nonplussed young man holds up his hand and says, "How!"

Too bad there is no soundtrack CD for "Letters Home...." Some of the best music from the Vietnam era, or from any era for that matter, is played to make the vintage film clips more meaningful, more relevant. Some of the standout tracks are: "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, one of the few Vietnam War protest rock songs of the day. "A Change is Gonna Come" by the legendary Sam Cooke, who was murdered at the height of his career by a jealous woman before the Vietnam War became a reality (his song is still prophetic for the war and for the Civil Rights Movement of the day, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" by the folk rock icon, Bob Dylan. "Are You Experienced" and "Five to One" by the equally legendary Jimi Hendrix, "Gimme Shelter" and "No Expectations" by the Stones, and the epitome of post-war re-evaluation, "Born in the U.S.A." by the Boss. Also included is the apocalyptic "Once I Was" by the neglected artist, Tim Buckley. The rest of the soundtrack is just as powerful and meaningful, with nary a clinker.

For those who lived through the tragedy of Vietnam, "Letters Home...." will bring back memories, both good and bad. To those who belong to a later generation of Americans, viewing "Letters Home...." will provide a better understanding of the Vietnam experience.

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