A Bright Shining Lie (1998)

TV Movie  |  R  |   |  Drama, War  |  30 May 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 1,162 users  
Reviews: 22 user | 6 critic

True story of Army man John Paul Vann, whose military success provided him the fulfillment he never found in his personal life.



(book), (teleplay)
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bo Eason ...
William L. Mansey ...
Robert L. Hull ...
'Josh' Somsak Orajan ...
Vann's ARVN Driver
Bill Whelan ...
Kay Tong Lim ...
Seng Kawee ...
VC Leader (as Kawee 'Seng' Sirikhanerut)
Kajie Khan ...
Madame Nhu (as Kajie Kahn)


Something in his past keeps career Army man John Paul Vann from advancing past colonel. He views being sent to Vietnam as part of the US military advisory force a stepping stone to promotion. However, he disagrees vocally (and on the record) with the way the war is being run and is forced to leave the military. Returning to Vietnam as a civilian working with the Army, he comes to despise some South Vietnamese officers while he takes charge of some of the U.S. forces and continues his liaisons with Vietnamese women. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In war as in life the difference between truth and deception is what a man allows himself to believe.


Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for war violence and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

30 May 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mentiras de guerra  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


John: It is not true that we are here to solve problems, sir. WE are the problem.
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Featured in The 56th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1999) See more »


Where Have All the Flowers Gone
Written by Pete Seeger
Performed by Pat McGuire
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User Reviews

Low budget, but good
2 May 2004 | by (Salt Lake City) – See all my reviews

This movie may have low budget production values, but they did a fairly good job. Actual wartime footage is intermingled for good effect, especially in the opening sequence.

I had a bit of a hard time taking Bill Paxton serious in this role at first, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that he did a very credible job portraying Lt. Col Vann with the required swagger.

Though a bit over dramatic at times, and almost falling into cliché, I would have to recommend this movie. My only other criticism would be of the portrayal of the ARVN when under fire. The offices may have been beneath contempt, but when called to duty, the ARVN could mix it up with the best of them. They have been getting an unfair reputation for many years now.

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