'The Green Berets [Blu-ray]'
(John Wayne, Luke Askew, Bruce Cabot, Jason Evers, Edward Faulkner, Jim Hutton, et al / Blu ray / G / (1968) 2009 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: John Wayne leads his Special Forces troops against the enemy in this first Hollywood treatment of the Vietnam War. It's rugged battle action all the way. David Janssen and Jim Hutton co-star.
Blu ray Verdict: The story itself is a simple one: American soldiers are trying their best to crush the purveyors of horrific Communism and thus save the vulnerable South Vietnamese people from eternal, unfathomable atrocities which were generally associated with the North Vietnamese rulers and Vietcong soldiers during this time period. This Herculean task was to be accomplished, in this case, through superior tactics, by the employment of superior American weaponry, and, through the patriotic intestinal fortitude of John Wayne's sterling leadership. Of course, this microcosm of the war was allegedly representative of what we were supposedly doing all over South Vietnam.
What you will NOT see in this film, which most later movies exploited, is drug use by American soldiers, prostitution for the troops offered by Vietnamese women who were trying to survive their circumstances, or any of the other common, supplementary, and graphic appurtenances to the typical lengthy war. Other than Jim Hutton's little humorous Black Market escapades, it's mostly shooting and body counts. Here, the viewer can expect a very straightforward presentation of battle, tenoned with the occasional swatch of personal anguish.
"The Green Berets" is the antithesis to the more self-loathing, later-period, movies like "Apocalypse Now," (1979) and "The Deer Hunter," (1978). And it's probably accurate to say that each of these three flicks were reflective of the American public's general sentiment (in hindsight of Vietnam, regarding the latter two) at the time of their respective releases. I feel certain that both LBJ and Nixon would have wished for the production of a lot more movies like "The Green Berets".
I based this review on my view of the film AFTER having separated it from period politics. It's well-done in terms of cinematography, is supported by a quality filmscore (composed and effected by Miklos Rozsa), bulging with notable stars of the era (Jim Hutton, Mike Henry, Jack Soo), albeit I've never been a huge fan of David Janssen. I've always been turned off by his eternal despondence and grimness throughout his film career, ergo "The Fugitive" television series. In the end, one can't escape the propaganda feel of this film. Even at the time of its initial release I recall thinking that it was pretty stiff, and wreaking somewhat of Ozzie and Harriet-ness.
"The Green Berets" was filmed at Fort Benning, Georgia and if you look closely, you can spot that they utilized caucasians as some of the Vietcong soldiers. I do think that it was a fine performance by John Wayne, even though I'm not exactly rabid on The Duke as some folks are. Still, one cannot deny that he was perfect in the role. The film was co-directed by Ray Kellogg, John Wayne, and Mervyn LeRoy, the latter being uncredited.
To summarize, I still enjoy seeing this film occasionally but about the only accurate part of it was the portrayal of the media's rising cynicism in regard to our continuing role in Vietnam. [PWC] This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Vintage Featurette - The Moviemakers: The Making of 'The Green Berets'
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