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The Green Berets (1968)
Writer: James Lee Barrett
Director: Ray Kellogg & John Wayne
John Wayne - Col. Mike Kirby
David Janssen - George Beckworth
George Takei - Capt. Nim
Jim Hutton - Sgt. Peterson
Aldo Ray - master Sgt. Muldoon
Raymond St. Jacques - Sgt. Doc McGee
Irene Tsu - Lin
Craig Jue - Hamchunk
The U.S. Army is building a number of Army camps in South Vietnam. One of the camps being built is constantly being attacked by the Vietcong.
Green Beret Col. Mike Kirby puts together a crack team of Green Berets to travel to and stabilize the camp.
A small Vietnamese refugee boy, Hamchunk, takes a liking to one of the soldiers, Sgt. Peterson. Sgt. Peterson also takes a liking to Hamchunk and takes him under his wing.
When one of the small villages near the camp accepts medical help from the Americans. The village is destroyed by the Viet Cong, and many of the villagers are killed. The remaining villagers are allowed into the army camp.
After several weeks of small attacks on the camp the Viet Cong finally attack the camp with full force, killing many of the American soldiers. However, with the help of a well-timed and well-placed airstrike. The soldiers are able to hold off the Vietcong.
The following morning, the villagers and the wounded soldiers are evacuated from the camp.
Col. Kirby realizes that the only way to stop the attacks is to take out the leader, which happens to be the Vietnamese general. They decide to kidnap the general and remove him from power.
With the help of Lin, a beautiful Vietnamese singer with a grudge against the general, the Green Berets formulated a plan. Lin will seduce the general and distract him while the Green Berets sneak into his compound, drug him and kidnap him. The plan works.
However, as the Green Berets are on their way to their extraction point Sgt. Peterson is killed by a Viet Cong trap.
When the remaining Green Berets finally return home, they are met by Hamchunk, searching for Sgt. Peterson. But, sadly, his search is in vain.
Before this movie was finished and released John Wayne predicted that it would be panned by critics. And, he was right; critics panned this film and tabbed it as nothing more than a John Wayne propaganda film. In fact, the the movie's premieres in New York and Los Angeles were picketed by hundreds of protesters. But, John Wayne got the last laugh. All of the hoopla surrounding this film did nothing but publicize it and it went on to be John Wayne's second-highest grossing film of his career, second only to True Grit.
Having said that, this movie is in deed a John Wayne propaganda film. However, it is still entertaining nonetheless. It has a great cast that gave great performances and it was well directed.
Plus, it's a John Wayne film, which is a thumbs up in my book as I am a huge fan.
I recommend it to any fan of the Duke, or any fan of war movies in general.
Ah, John Wayne! "The Duke". How I miss him. No, he never actually herded a million head of cattle from Alaska down to Texas by himself whilst ignoring a bullet wound to the stomach. Nor did he really fight and die in three world wars. However, on the silver screen, The Duke (and that's all I'm calling him from now on) walked, talked, spat, rode, and shot like he'd done it all, twice. While the bras were still smoldering in the 1960s sexual revolution, The Duke stood apart as a towering man's man in the world of cinema. In my Dad's eyes, there was no finer example of what a man should be than The Duke. I recall clearly the strange excitement I'd get from humiliating myself in front of his beer-drinking mates as a kid. Yes, I was 'forced' to do my Little Duke routine in front of visitors, complete with swagger and squeaky "Out here, due process is a bullet!" At the age of six, it was all very exciting, especially considering the fact that my Little Elvis was tired and clearly waning. But I digress! The Green Berets is the first movie featuring The Duke that I ever had my father's pleasure to see. Perversely, and despite living in denial for many years, I now find myself a born-again fan. Call it nostalgia, but I love The Duke! *Who's The Duke in this one?* In The Green Berets, The Duke struts around like a gigantic rooster as Colonel Mike Kirby. He's the commander of a group of US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) right in the thick of things during the Vietnam War. If there's a firebase on the verge of being overrun by the boys in black pyjamas, The Duke's there. Similarly, if there's a mission impossible to be completed, well, why would the bumbling generals look past The Duke? *What's the story? Is there a story?* The Green Berets was partly a propaganda film for President Johnson. No, the making of the film wasn'
;t LBJ's idea, but he fell all over himself to provide all the military props that The Duke asked for. It was 1968 and the US Government was in a little bit of a pickle as popular opinion began to swing increasingly against the continuation of the war in Southeast Asia. The Green Berets, as well as being an action romp, also attempted to carry a little pro-war message. The film features two plots within its basic 'we're here in Vietnam for all the right reasons' message - one major, and one minor. The major story revolves around a personality and ideology clash between The Duke and a reporter, George Beckworth (David Jansen). George the journo is researching a story for a newspaper that doesn't agree with American troops being in Vietnam. He's there to get the details on how it's all a fiasco and how the locals don't appreciate foreign soldiers. George and The Duke lock horns on and off, until George is prompted by his conscience to grab a rifle and help in a desperate defensive firefight. As a result, the pinko liberal journalist comes completely to his senses on the whole war issue - thanks to The Duke. The minor plot involves The Duke and his boys being assigned on an apparently suicidal mission to capture a North Vietnamese general. The Duke hardly works up a sweat to pull this little feat off. I'm not going to give away the ending to The Green Berets, especially the departing scene of the film. However, I will say that I still cringe so hard that my teeth hurt. But it's a good hurt, because it's The Duke who's the dentist! *What's cool about this movie?* The Green Berets is full of all the things little boys like. Explosions, gunplay, and macho one-liners. However, The Green Beret doesn't burden us with any difficult moral questions, like later Vietnam-era films like Platoon. Instead it just concentrates on good guys versus bad guys. The bad guys
in The Green Berets aren't even tastelessly referred to as 'gooks' and 'zips'. The enemy is politely referred to solely as either the NVA or the VC. Ok, a little taste of what I found cool. Firebases Being a lad, I'm all for anything that resembles a siege with all the lads inside fighting off the evil hordes outside. In The Green Berets, this little fantasy is supplied in the form of the firebases that the US troops set up as fortified outposts in the jungle full of nasty enemies. Booby traps All of the booby traps that I've seen in films over the years combined are outnumbered by the sheer multitude of them in The Green Berets. In The Duke's Vietnam you can't walk 5 yards without a pit full of poison-tipped bamboo spikes opening up to impale you. For the admirer of nasty surprises, The Green Berets will tantalize. The Duke himself Fans of The Duke know that you can watch the man himself swagger around for hours on end. We just sit fascinated waiting for a pearl of macho wisdom to slip out of the side of his clam (mouth). The Duke's in The Green Berets. Enough said. The Duke is dead. Long live The Duke! *The Joe's final words* The Green Berets is basic, and not even a fifth as slick as Platoon or Casualties Of War. Instead of Vangelis fiddling with the soundtrack, you've got the military drums leading you into the film's important moments. However, it's a fascinating look at what pro-war Hollywood thought of the Vietnam conflict while it still raged. The Green Berets was after all released in 1968. It's all very well to consider Oliver Stone and Stanley Kubrick as clever with their 20 year hindsight, but it's also interesting to see what was going on in the cinema as America was sadly on its way to losing its first major conflict, at the expense of so many young lives. Back to The Duke, before
I get too serious. The Green Berets is great gung-ho action on his part, and more than worth a look for fans and the uninitiated alike. I'm promoting The Duke from colonel to a 4 star general. Cheers for reading. Joe
Anyone who fought in Vietnam can tell you that the war bore little resemblance to this propagandistic action film starring and codirected by John Wayne. But Green Berets itself is not nearly as bad as its reputation would suggest; critics roasted its gung-ho politics while ignoring its merits as an exciting (if rather conventional and idealistic) war movie. Some notorious mistakes were made--in the final shot, the sun sets in the east!--and it's an awkward attempt to graft WWII heroics onto the Vietnam experience. But as the Duke's attempt to acknowledge the men who were fighting and dying overseas, it's a rousing film in which Wayne commands a regiment on a mission to kidnap a Viet Cong general. David Janssen plays a journalist who learns to understand Wayne's commitment to battling Communism, and Jim Hutton (Timothy's dad) plays an ill-fated soldier who adopts a Vietnamese orphan. --Jeff Shannon