Green Berets, The (1968)

“Out here, due process is a bullet!”

Synopsis:
A cynical reporter (David Janssen) follows Colonel Kirby (John Wayne) to a post in Vietnam, where Kirby’s special forces troop — including a captain (Edward Faulkner), a supplies specialist (Jim Hutton) who has befriended a young war orphan (Craig Jue), a master sergeant (Aldo Ray), and a medical sergeant (Raymond St. Jacques) — join forces with an ARVN captain (George Takei) to capture a high-level Viet Cong officer.

Genres:

Review:
After a trip to South Vietnam in 1966, John Wayne — who was a staunch supporter of America’s involvement in the war — decided to produce a film about our special forces’ efforts there, and ended up co-directing and starring in this earnest yet dated and politically lopsided flick, based on the best-selling novel by Robin Moore. In a post-Vietnam era, the platitudinous dialogue is simply ripe for satirizing, as evidenced by this exchange:

Colonel Morgan (Bruce Cabot) [referring to Irene Tsu]: Her name is Lin. Her father was chief of the Han Phou provence.
Colonel Cai (Jack Soo): Until he refused to cooperate with the Viet Cong.
Colonel Kirby: So, they killed him.
Colonel Cai: They murdered him and her little brother in the most hideous way.
Colonel Kirby: That’s their style.

As seen in this overview of films made about the Vietnam War, The Green Berets was one of the earliest, and (perhaps appropriately) reflects the naivete and ignorance of Americans at the time. It wasn’t until ten years later, after the conflict had officially ended, that movies were finally released which showed a more nuanced perspective.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine cinematography

Must See?
No. Listed as a Camp Classic in the back of Peary’s book.

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2 Responses to “Green Berets, The (1968)”

  1. First and last viewing. Skip it.

    Just bad all around. It’s not only woefully naive about the Vietnam War but it’s some kind of fantasy about America Good-‘Enemy’ Bad. ~so it’s not even all that relevant as a war movie.

    Seemingly in an attempt to balance out the intensity of the war scenes, there are inclusions of episodes either overly sentimental or comic. When composer Miklos Rozsa – of all people – supplies music for the latter, it sounds goofy indeed.

    The whole thing is not particularly well-directed. I wouldn’t label the film ‘camp’, however (unless it’s generally war veterans who might find it unintentionally funny in spots). A good portion of the dialogue is, indeed, awful but (as stated) the film does have an overall earnestness. Just because a film has enough elements to make it fail, that doesn’t necessarily throw it into the ‘camp’fire.

  2. Taken as a solid war-action flick this has its charms, but it’s certainly no classic and definitely not must see.

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