Col. Mike Kirby picks two teams of crack Green Berets for two missions in South Vietnam. The first is to strengthen a camp that is trying to be taken by the enemy. The second is to kidnap a North Vietnamese General.
***The only Vietnam War flick shot during the war***
An intrepid colonel (John Wayne) and a team of Green Berets defend a firebase camp in Viet Cong-controlled territory in Vietnam accompanied by a cynical journalist (David Janssen). The colonel and a select group of his men eventually implement a special mission to capture a high-level Viet Cong general. Aldo Ray, Raymond St. Jacques, Jim Hutton, George Takei, Patrick Wayne & others are on hand.
Co-directed by John Wayne, "The Green Berets" (1968) is notable as the only Vietnam War flick made during the actual conflict (I’m talking about theatrical releases). The events take place well before the Tet Offensive of 1968 and the story isn’t about your average grunt conscript, e.g. “Platoon” (1986), but rather Special Forces personnel, who are highly trained & disciplined career professionals. The movie is curiously notorious because it’s pro-involvement, but it’s NOT pro-war seeing as how the flick clearly shows the horrors of war. It’s just that it honestly details the noble reasons WHY the USA got involved in the first place.
The tone & story mixes the style of 1960’s War-in-the-Pacific movies like “Ambush Bay” (1966) with a dash of “The Dirty Dozen” (1967). “We Were Soldiers” (2002) is similar, but more effective because it lacks the old-fashioned humor and quaintness. “Go Tell the Spartans” (1978) is in the same ballpark.
There’s a lot of action (with fake-looking bright red blood), but it takes forever to get to it. Still, the characters are likable and you have to respect a movie that takes its time to establish the setting and protagonists.
The film runs 2 hours, 22 minutes and was shot in Fort Benning & Columbus, Georgia; Ft. McClellen, Alabama; and WB Burbank Studios. Actually, Georgia works surprisingly well for the SE Asia sequences. It’s not like Vietnam is all palm trees; they DO have pines and deciduous.
Batjac Productions by Ray Kellogg, John Wayne, Mervyn LeRoy, James Lee Barrett, Robin Moore.
Stars: John Wayne, David Janssen, Jim Hutton.
Genres: Drama, War
Keywords: vietnam war green beret
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