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Path to War (2002)

TV Movie  -   -  Drama  -  18 May 2002 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,980 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 2 critic

In the mid-1960s, President Johnson and his foreign-policy team debate the decision to withdraw from or escalate the war in Vietnam.

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Title: Path to War (TV Movie 2002)

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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 17 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Richard Goodwin
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General Earle G. Wheeler
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Everett Dirksen
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Marny Clifford
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Luci Baines Johnson
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Walt Rostow
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Adam Yarmolinsky
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Storyline

A portrayal of the Johnson presidency and its spiraling descent into the Vietnam War. Acting on often conflicting advice from his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara and other advisers, President Johnson finds his domestic policy agenda for the Great Society overtaken by an ever demanding commitment to ending the war. It also depicts his political skills as he crosses swords with political foes such as Bobby Kennedy and Governor George Wallace. Despite support and encouragement from stalwart friends such as Clark Clifford, Johnson realizes his management of the war no longer has the confidence of the American people and announces that he will not seek the nomination of the Democratic party for the the 1968 election. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

While one war was being fought in Vietnam another was being fought in the White House. See more »

Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

18 May 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Path to War  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$17,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

16:9
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Frankenheimer's last film See more »

Quotes

Lyndon Baines Johnson: How many planes will we lose?
Gen. Earle 'Buzz' Wheeler: 20 to 25.
Lyndon Baines Johnson: How many casualties?
Gen. Earle 'Buzz' Wheeler: 50.
Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense: 50 to 300 is my estimate, and if the bombs miss, it can go as high as 12,000, with fifty percent of these civilians and fifty percent of those killed.
Gen. Earle 'Buzz' Wheeler: Of course, we don't plan these strikes to miss our targets.
Lyndon Baines Johnson: But you do miss sometimes. And this time you could hit a Russian ship. And the bomber pilot will be a kid from Johnson City, Texas, and that'll be the kid that starts World War III, thank you very much.
See more »

Connections

References Goldfinger (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Taps
(aka "Butterfield's Lullaby" and "Day Is Done") (uncredited)
Composed by Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield (1862 arrangement of earlier melody "Scott Tattoo")
Played during necrology of Vietnam dead on TV.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Slow Spiral Of A Nation Into War
16 June 2002 | by (Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

I tuned into this expecting to see something similar to the exciting, tension-filled "Thirteen Days," but these two movies are not at all alike. Even the titles tell the difference. "Thirteen Days" (about the Cuban Missile Crisis) is a compact story, while "Path To War" deals with events spread out over several years, and as a result moves more slowly and often in much less detail. It is in its own way, however, just as gripping.

"Path To War" is the story of the United States during the Lyndon Johnson administration as it spirals into war in Vietnam, almost against its will. Johnson is well portrayed by Michael Gambon, who manages to capture the complex situation the man was facing, both militarily and politically. Johnson, of course, assumed the presidency upon John Kennedy's assassination and inherited Kennedy's decision to increase US involvement in Vietnam. Johnson is constantly pushed by his military officials and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara (Alec Baldwin), a holdover from the Kennedy administration, to take just one more step, to commit just a few more troops, to bomb just a few more targets in order to win the war. Every step fails, which leads to another step being necessary, until Johnson is hopelessly trapped in a war he can't win but that he can't get out of either. Feeling unable to trust the people who had been Kennedy's advisors, Johnson turns to Clark Clifford (a great performance here from Donald Sutherland) who originally opposes increased involvement in Vietnam, but who eventually realizes that the spiral has gone too far to be stopped and becomes an advocate of stepping things up on the grounds that there is nothing left to do but put everything into trying to win. It's a fascinating study of an entire nation; one that carefully avoids the unfortunate stereotype of Johnson as a warmonger, and instead depicts him as desperate to find a way out of this mess; one that just as carefully notes that Johnson didn't create this mess - he inherited it from Kennedy.

That, of course, is the subplot of the movie. Johnson spends much of the movie (as he spent his presidency) fighting the ghost of John Kennedy and looking over his shoulder at Robert Kennedy, not able to trust those who had been close to the Kennedy's, but unable to simply jettison them.

It really is fascinating movie, well worth watching. It isn't "exciting" in the sense that you'd be on the edge of your seat, but it's gripping and holds your attention well enough. 7/10.


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The war was lost before it was fought dazfiddy
Always figured Johnson to be more of a hard-ass MisterKyle
Typical Hollywood tkema468
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