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"CBS Playhouse" The Final War of Olly Winter (1967)

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Compelling Early TV Drama About the Vietnam War

9/10
Author: jr-565-26366 from United States
25 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I barely remember seeing this television movie but it has stuck to my mind ever since. Set in the Vietnamese jungle in 1963, Black master sergeant Olly Winter is a career soldier sent to Vietnam as an adviser to fight one last war against the communists. Flashbacks reveal Winter's harsh childhood to include racial discrimination and the suicide of his mother. This helps him sympathize with the poor villagers he is trying to protect.

The sole survivor of an ambush of his Vietnamese Army unit, MSG Winter attempts to escape and evade back to friendly lines. During his travels, he is accompanied by a Vietnamese young girl, a dog, and an orphaned baby found near the bodies of its slain parents. Soon, MSG Winter is pursued by the Viet Cong.

MSG Winter seeks refuge and protection from Vietnamese villagers who help him escape. However, facing retribution from the Viet Cong, the villagers confess to which direction MSG Winter has gone and the VC finally catch up with and kill both Winter and the young girl.

Up until this show appeared in 1967, I cannot remember any other TV program that focused on the war in Vietnam. Only a 1963 episode of the Twilight Zone, "In Praise of Pip", comes to mind. Though it had a "playhouse" feel to the sets, from what I remember of this show it was well acted and was a powerful presentation of both the war and social injustice at home. Too bad it is not available on DVD nor has it been shown on any of the nostalgia TV stations.

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