Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Green Berets (John Wayne/Ray Kellogg, 1968)

Green Beret-B-Q

Between the time Robin Moore's "flaming blockbuster" non-fiction book, THE GREEN BERETS, was written in 1963 to 1964 (published in 1965), and the time the Warner Brothers 1968 release of their film adaptation (of the same name) finished its run on the drive-in circuit, the Vietnam war had tragically evolved and devolved.

Time Magazine October 17, 1969

With America's escalating military involvement came mounting casualties that provided a steady flow of unsanitized carnage on American TV screens and magazine covers for the duration of the war. Events on the ground undermined the pro-war, propagandistic message of the movie. The filmmakers hope for widespread popularity of the film and great box office returns were, unfortunately, (for the filmmakers, anyway) accompanied by the Tet Offensive and, later, revelations about the My Lai massacre that served to muddy the movie's simplistic, ideological waters.

The dynamic, constantly shifting realities in Vietnam presented a subject difficult to pin down and encapsulate easily -- a fast, tricky, moving target, so to speak. Hitting this "moving target" would pose a challenge to even the best intentioned Vietnam war movie that might have been made while the conflict was unfolding (one perhaps devoted to a more "realistic" depiction of the war's savagery and complexity) -- the script and resulting film being necessarily locked in on a fleeting moment in time and particular locale in the war.

In the case of THE GREEN BERETS this issue was moot. A presentation of "reality" of any sort was never the movie's chief objective. The directors, John Wayne and Ray Kellogg, intended to plant a positive, easier-to-understand narrative in the minds of the American audience, particularly the children. They achieved this by laying a familiar, cinematic, cowboys vs. Indians template over the Vietnam War and inserting the various Vietnam War particulars into their corresponding slots:

In other words, they transformed the Vietnam War into Hollywood's "Wild West".

Wayne was no stranger to this cinematic prairie, having spent his entire adulthood there in over 100 sum-odd classic and not-so-classic Westerns.

In 1960, Wayne stepped behind the camera to direct himself in the $12,000,000 70mm epic self-funded Western, THE ALAMO.

The film's distributor, United Artists, refused to cover the tab for the millions of dollars in cost overruns on the picture. As a result, by the time of THE GREEN BERETS, Wayne had still not seen a return on his considerable investment. Because of this shortfall he chose not to go the self-funding route with this new production.

With Warner Brothers on board, some guarantees were in order: first, that screenwriter James Lee Barrett agree to compromise with a list of studio imposed suggestions to soften the view of the Army depicted in Moore's book and, second, that John Wayne not direct the picture alone. Wayne agreed on hiring Ray Kellogg for the job. Kellogg was an old Hollywood studio hand -- responsible for nearly 100 special effects jobs for 20th Century Fox in a mere 6 year span (between 1951 and 1957)! He also directed the youth-oriented classics:



and MY DOG, BUDDY (1960).

Warners was no doubt put at ease by Kellogg's stalwart professionalism and Wayne, likewise, was impressed at Kellogg's willingness and ability to connect with a younger audience.

In 1967, (Republican) Wayne approached (Democrat) President Lyndon B. Johnson and requested U.S. Army cooperation for his film which would be in full-blown support of the war.

Jack Valenti (previously, special assistant to both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, but now head of the Motion Picture Association of America) historically told President Johnson, "Wayne's politics are wrong, but if he makes this film he will be helping us."

Jack Valenti and President Lyndon B Johnson

Johnson, having just dramatically increased troop levels in Vietnam, acted on Valenti's counsel and granted Wayne complete access to the U.S. Army and Valenti, in turn, granted THE GREEN BERETS an astonishing "G" rating.

Taking full conscious power of this fortuitous situation, Wayne/Kellogg effectively deployed a crafty "Mickey Mouse Club" technique for securing the involvement of the second-generation of Disney-fied Saturday-morning-cartoon-minded children:

BERETS opens with Sgt. Barry Sadler's simple, infectious, rousing, sing-along march "Ballad of the Green Berets" (already having been a radio hit in 1966) proudly blaring, Mitch Miller-style, on the soundtrack over a candy-colored credit montage of the Berets in action that has the illiteral effect of flipping through panel after panel of a combat comic book.

Stanley Kubrick nods his head to Wayne's use of this type of anthem (with blackly comic, even parodic, effect) in the final moments of his own cinematic take on Vietnam, FULL METAL JACKET, in 1987.

In this film's climax, the soldiers that march off into the evening dusk are singing the actual Mickey Mouse Club song. Kubrick has Pvt. Joker (Matthew Modine) constantly doing his John Wayne impersonation throughout the film; having been weaned, like others of his generation, on Wayne's westerns and military dramas -- i.e. THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE and THE SANDS OF IWO JIMA in particular. In one sequence the grunts are being filmed by a documentary crew and start mugging for the camera -- yelling that they can play the cowboys and the VC can play the Indians. Not surprisingly, in an early draft of the FULL METAL JACKET screenplay, the Vietnam segment of the film actually opens with the grunts in their Saigon, PX movie theater laughing their asses off at a matinee of THE GREEN BERETS.

Like all good propagandists, the filmmakers rely on children --

-- their minds as blank a slate as the screen the film is projected on --

-- as the "green" -- or rather, innocent bearers of the movie's gung-ho, pro-war message.

Jim Hutton's child-like character, Sergeant Petersen, is used as an intermediary between the children in the audience --

-- and the heroic, if intimidating, father figure soldiers that round out the rest of the cast.

Petersen is "recruited" (practically kidnapped) by the Berets for his finely honed skills as a black marketeer.

They need him to steal, barter and bribe away the supplies they can't get through normal Army supply channels.

Wayne's conferring of the the beret upon Petersen is a kind of ad-hoc anointing in that, at first, he doesn't really seem to fit in with the group.

As the story progresses, however, Petersen is revealed to have had what it takes to be a Beret (underneath his comically cowardly wheeling and dealing) all along --

-- proving himself more than capable in battle.

The filmmakers are very calculating in how they present this pivotal character.

Note how Petersen is never shown actually killing anyone even though he is always in the heart of the action.

It's crucial that he be perceived, by the audience of children, as a legitimate member of the Green Beret "team" (the cool guys) -- but, to show him killing would risk alienating them and breaking the hold that this relationship has over their imaginations. As we will see later, Petersen's narrative function is, simply, to die --

-- not to kill.

Petersen's sympathetic friendship with Hamchunk (Craig Jue), an orphaned Vietnamese boy, gives the younger viewers of the film a kindred spirit to directly identify with.

He could be the kid next door --

-- mischievous and fun with his puppy constantly in tow --

-- and, occasionally, a rifle slung over his shoulder!

This relationship is, more than likely, borrowed from Samuel Fuller's THE STEEL HELMET --

-- in which Gene Evans' character, Sgt. Zack, is accompanied by his "small caliber" companion Short Round.

Fuller's 4-film association with director Ray Kellogg when he was a visual effects supervisor at Fox bears this assumption out.

Wayne and Kellogg deploy this soldier/child relationship on a much different mission. Once the youngsters in the audience are comfortable with Petersen and Hamchunk (Stage One) it's time to move on to Stage Two of the ideological arc -- the death of Hamchunk's puppy.

At first this seems to be a transparent cheap shot designed to jerk a few easy tears and make the audience feel even sorrier for Hamchunk than they already do (knowing he is an orphan and that his missionary guardians have recently been assassinated). But the real intent is more complex.

As he crouches over the dead puppy we are struck by an unavoidable fact: the enemy has just killed his buddy during battle.

As Petersen comes to join him by the puppy's grave, the hidden message is: "Welcome to the club, kid." Hamchunk has just moved a step closer to becoming a soldier.

No one else shares this moment of grief with him, only Petersen. This triangle of sorrow and death intensifies and personalizes a child's identification with Hamchunk as a kindred spirit and with Petersen as a brother-in-arms.

It also, cleverly, substitutes Petersen for the puppy, allowing feelings felt for the little dog to be transferred smoothly to him.

This is an emotional booby trap set now by the filmmakers that will spring later in the movie, catapulting Hamchunk (and his pint-sized audience with him) to Stage Three.

Near the end of the movie Petersen "takes the point" as the team moves through the jungle --

-- and stumbles into a literal booby-trap set by the Viet Cong (and a narrative one set by the filmmakers) --

-- that impales him on a wall of bamboo stakes.

Petersen's death leaves a gap in the Beret unit and an empty, metaphoric pair of boots to fill. But he does leave something solid behind as he slides toward his horrific death.

One can only imagine how this sequence went over with the 7-year-olds in attendance.

In the film's final moments, Wayne has something in store for Hamchunk that will signal Stage Three of his transformation and completes the boy's narrative arc. (More on this moment later...)

This metamorphosis of Hamchunk (the children's surrogate) into soldier is mirrored by the transformation of Reporter Beckworth (the adult's surrogate) into soldier. (More on this later, as well.)

Having presented two carefully crafted characters for the kiddies attending the militaristic matinee, it's not surprising that the hardware and soldiers in the movie are presented in similar tableaux to colorful, clean, accessorized action figure toy ads from the Sears Christmas Wish Book.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C
Hamchunk's toy boat acts as an appropriate foreshadowing of the use of miniatures to come.

The transformation of a real helicopter into a (toy) miniature helicopter during the movie's centerpiece battle scene acts as an appropriate foreshadowing of the simulacric blitzkrieg to come.

Real helicopter.

Interior mock-up.

Now, the transformation to miniature.

Back to interior mock-up.

Introduction to exterior full-scale mock-up.

Back to the toy with matching conflagration.

And it's back to the full-scale burning mock-up for the crash -- marking this sequence as the films first official dummy-death -- albeit that of a helicopter.

It would take the psychological craft of a special effects technician with the vast experience of one such as co-director Ray Kellogg to devise the next bit of "business" --

-- the emergence of a roasting man from out of the flames of the burning helicopter!

In actuality, a stunt man dressed in an unfeasibly thick asbestos suit.

This is an important addition to the dummy-death equation exclusive to this sequence: Kellogg starts the sequence off with a transformation of a real helicopter into toy then into life-size replica with actors reacting to fire then back to toy and then, finally, back to the burning full-scale replica for the crash finale -- BUT the addition of a blazing stunt man signals something new!

By placing this non-transformative moment (merely a man aflame and no image of a non-flaming man previous to it or dummy betwixt) butt-up against a transformative moment (helicopter/toy helicopter/life-size mock-up) Kellogg is subliminally preparing the audience for acceptance of the eventual transformation of a human being into blazing facsimile. He cleverly withholds the visual transformational illustration of human actor into stunt man into dummy and back to human actor again so that the snug proximity to the helicopter's transformation plants a bug in the back of the viewers mind -- something is missing from this new picture -- and Kellogg makes sure to provide the necessary visual transformational information next time out. Holding back on a dummy-death this time will make those that are still to come that much more (subconsciously) satisfying to the audience.

Another interesting transformation of military equipment into toy occurs when Wayne's character smashes an M-16 rifle to pieces.

Legend has it that Wayne, not wanting his make-believe war to adversely affect the real one raging in Vietnam, refused to destroy a usable weapon for the production so a Mattel toy facsimile was substituted instead.

The battle scenes themselves -- orderly, neatly choreographed and geometric in character -- have the feel of plastic army men battling it out on suburban kitchen table or bedroom floor killing fields arrayed in neat, organized rows.

Paralleling the soldiers with plastic toys is only one of the means the filmmakers transform the characters into living abstractions.

Berets who are killed in combat have streets, fields, army bases, etc. named after them by their fellow Berets.

These are intimate, parochial memorials of utilitarian function (as opposed to an anonymous, flower-festooned granite slab in a stateside park).

They are designed by the Berets to capture the individual character of each deceased soldier --

-- allowing the dead to continue to stand sentinel and live on, after a fashion, as a respected, if inert, object.

The orphan boy, Hamchunk, may rope in the children in the audience but George Beckworth, David Janssen's skeptical reporter (assumedly, the Robin Moore facsimile), is clearly designed to hedge the adults into the film's depiction of an ideological transformation.

This transformation of Beckworth from war skeptic into true believer is dramatized with the reporter's visual transformation from civilian clothes --

-- into green fatigues, reflecting his internal, ideological "realization" that "his" country should be fighting a war in "this" country.

Beckworth initially challenges the Berets during their presentation to the press corps and suggests that the Vietnam conflict is a civil war the United States shouldn't be involved in. Sergeant Muldoon responds with the help of his conspicuous visual aid.

This appears, at first, to be nothing more than a display box of weaponry. But like everything else in the movie, looks are intended to be deceiving.

What this is, in essence, is a map. Each object affixed to the panel is an abstraction of a different communist country.

The Beret's lecture on the urgency of American involvement in Vietnam transforms, seamlessly, into a physical enactment of an abstract theory, the "domino theory" of the spread of global communism.

As Aldo Ray's Master Sergeant Muldoon lifts each weapon off of the board and announces the communist country of origin it now represents and embodies, he deposits it on the table in front of reporter Beckworth. This presentation, however, is animated by a dual nature.

Muldoon's message is a foregrounded one: It's not a civil war if the fighters are being supplied by communist countries from all over the world.

The filmmaker's message is hidden: If we don't stop them in VIETNAM now, they will end up in AMERICA, and in your lap, later.

Sergeant Doc McGee (Raymond St. Jacques) embellishes this concept in his similarly two pronged explanation of what is transpiring in Vietnam by first painting a grim portrait of an America overrun by the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army.

Outwardly he only uses this scenario as an EXAMPLE of what's happening in Vietnam but the hidden message is: This is EXACTLY what's going to happen in the United States if we do not act.

In the final image of Beckworth in the film, he turns away from the audience and "falls in" with a column of marching soldiers --

-- guided by a marching officer, "Mister, you Beckworth? If you want to go where the war is -- this is the way..." --

-- his green fatigues blending in with the army that he (and the audience) are now intended to march with.

Beckworth's pre-transformation character is shifty-eyed and evasive. His mighty pen wilts in the face of the Beret's "swords" and their stern, condescending, manly gaze.

Beckworth is also feminized. As a journalist, he plies a trade in which women can be the equal of men thus alienating him from the physically powerful, macho he-men Green Berets.

Wayne/Kellogg even visually pair him with a female reporter from a woman's magazine and, in this context, is just another useless idiot in the peanut gallery.

And so it is this "feminization" that, despite the macho posturing and 1960's conservative sexism in these opening scenes, cross-pollinates with nearly every major adult male character in the film --

-- thus creating a strong emotional bridge not only between the children and the maternally compassionate U.S. soldiers in the movie but also between these characters and the audience watching them.

It may appear ironic or contradictory, but in the context of the more propagandistic intentions of the filmmakers, these sentimental character mechanics are par for the course. More importantly, it allows Wayne/Kellogg to reinforce the manipulative importance of jewelry, costumes, toys and candy to the children in the audience.

Note the sequence where Beckworth is introduced to the plight of an injured South Vietnamese girl.

Beckworth sees the child as a symbol of the helpless South Vietnamese "victim" to the barbaric North Vietnamese/Viet Cong "victimizers" and himself as the representative of the only force for the child's salvation. But Beckworth's stance on U.S. involvement in this war is, at this early stage of his story, still undetermined.

Here Beckworth gives the child his medallion.

"You like this?" he asks her. The unit medic who tends her bandages adds, "She's a woman, isn't she?" and she swears never to take it off.

But Wayne/Kellogg intimate that good intentions (even religious/supernatural talismans) and "feminized" sentiments aren't strong enough protection, for soon Beckworth finds the little girl gang raped and murdered by the Viet Cong.

For the filmmakers, it is Beckworth's unformed commitment to the war that dooms the little girl and all like her. This indecision is addressed directly during the NVA attack on "Dodge City" (the Berets encampment and another Hollywood western reference).

An angry Sergeant Petersen, firing a mortar from his fox hole, barks at a shocked, confused Beckworth: "That's what it's all about Mr. Beckworth."

He then gestures at the attacking NVA. "Are you gonna stand there and REFEREE or are you going to help us?"

It is only after witnessing the enemy's unthinkable villainy first hand that Beckworth can swap out his decorations of inactive femininity (civilian clothes and the medallion) --

-- for those of active masculinity (military fatigues and a rifle) and a new, raw awareness of the necessity for The Green Berets and its fight against the threat of global Communism.

Beckworth's ill-omened bestowing of the medallion on the little girl is paralleled and underscored by Wayne's "crowning" of Hamchunk with a green beret.

The beret belongs to his surrogate mother/father figure Sgt. Petersen who has been killed by a VC booby trap --

What Hamchunk didn't see, but can only imagine.

-- appropriated at the scene by Wayne for just such a tender, symbolic moment.

What Wayne remembers...

Unlike Beckworth's medallion (St. Christopher, most likely) whose "protection" is symbolic at best, Petersen's beret is representative of an actual physical force of protection and one of personal sacrifice as well.

This is Stage Three of Hamchunk's transformation and completes his narrative arc. He is now an honorary Green Beret and, by extension, so are the children in the audience who have shared his painful journey and wound up on the beach with Wayne, too.

This ritual concludes with Hamchunk asking, "What will happen to me now?" and Wayne intoning, "You let me worry about that, Green Beret. You're what this is all about!"

The U.S. soldiers aren't the only characters abstracted and transformed, the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong are also deftly dehumanized via the filmmakers chosen POV.

By telling the story exclusively from the visual perspective of the American forces, the NVA/VC naturally become indistinct marauding uniformed shapes --

-- remote, shadowy figures that can only be clearly defined by the aftermath of the atrocities they visit upon the indigenous villagers and Berets.

The few closer images of the enemy, interestingly, are mainly from behind, such as when they are strafed by a gunship, thus preserving their faceless anonymity even in close proximity.

Note that the enemy does not scatter, but stands in place, immobile, then falls in sequence as if one's annoying little brother had snuck into big brother's bedroom and knocked over all his carefully placed plastic soldiers with a single clean sweep of his arm.

The only clear, unobstructed view of an enemy face the audience is allowed to see is one that, at first, appears to be a "friendly" A.R.V.N. militiaman --

-- a member of Captain Nim's (George Takei) unit of jungle fighters.

His fatigues, it turns out, are another of the film's many deceptions.

They do not clothe an ally in the fight, but exactly the opposite --

-- a enemy spy who has infiltrated the ranks and is caught pacing off distances in the Beret encampment for the purpose of targeting VC mortar rounds.

This is another example of the depiction of the Viet Cong/NVA use of "unfair", "deceitful" tactics that helps to justify and legitimize, in the mind of the audience, the use of similar tactics by the Berets, in this case their kidnapping of a North Vietnamese commander from his headquarters later in the story.

This kind of tit-for-tat balance is maintained throughout the movie. Every time the enemy are shown doing something "unfair" it is presented in such a way as to throw off the carefully established equilibrium of the narrative structure --

-- an equilibrium that is only restored when the Berets adopt and successfully employ these same techniques --

-- thus restoring this "balance", in a subliminal way, for those watching the movie.

The audience is allowed to see the Viet Cong soldier's face clearly, only because he is being presented as a "cowardly" spy -- not a warrior.

This is a strategy that Stanley Kubrick (in a characteristically perverse gesture) actually utilizes (as opposed to simply commenting on) with similar effect in FULL METAL JACKET but to a much different end. For the duration of that movie the audience is, also, entirely "with" the grunts and share their dehumanization of the enemy. This, in turn, magnifies the shock of the face to face encounter with the enemy sniper, a teenaged girl, who, it turns out, is as tough and committed as the Marines themselves. We have met the enemy and she is us.

This "crime" against the movie's idea of a fair fight is compounded by the discovery of a cigarette lighter in his pocket.

The lighter of a deceased Green Beret. We can now add trophy hunting to the list of infamy committed by the enemy and his "teammates".

Spying is bad enough, but robbing the body of a valiant, fallen foe (the logic goes) removes him from the protection of any civility or mercy and paves the way for the audience's acceptance of his summary execution moments later --

-- an execution that has now been made more palatable (i.e. off-screen), presumably, for a potentially squeamish audience. Since the V.C. spy is not fighting and is now disarmed and completely helpless the audience might be repelled by a graphic depiction of this frontier justice and, by extension, alienated from the propagandistic message of the film. This also explains the presence of Beckworth in the background, the sole American witness to the spectacle.

This allows HIM to be ridiculed, moments later, by Wayne for not having the stomach to accept the "harsh realities" of this fight against "evil" thus coaxing the audience comfortably into the Beret "camp" ideologically. This, yet another instance of "holding back" by the filmmakers, is a good example of their careful presentation of graphic mayhem and its attendant dehumanization. Not seeing the execution leaves a nagging "blind spot" that will be filled with the less morally ambiguous deaths, particularly the righteous dummy deaths at the center of the movie.

Another noteworthy close encounter with "the enemy" involves a jungle fight between G-Beret Kowalski (Mike Henry) and a small group of Viet Cong.

Here we have a deception/substitution wherein a Viet Cong fighter who is impaled on a broken tree limb by the ambushed Beret is revealed to be portrayed by a Caucasian stunt man (who resembles a middle-aged Frankie Avalon) with schmutz on his face.

Middle-aged Frankie Avalon

Such a bold replacement for an actual Vietnamese actor is another abstraction that is preperatory in nature.

Something, another abstraction, both bigger and bolder is in the works. But we'll get to that a little later... For now, back to the dehumanization of the enemy!

The Berets are aghast at the guerrilla tactics of the NVA/Viet Cong --

-- who come to play with their own brand of handcrafted toys in the form of bamboo pungee sticks --

-- and spike traps.

The adult audience is invited to share their outrage.

And the kids in the audience can find the inventive contraptions of death cool and reminiscent of some of the hours of interactive fun they have with booby-trap games back home!

The Berets (and the audience, by extension) then feel justified in adopting these same "inhuman" tactics against the enemy because the enemy have already proven themselves to be something "less than human" by employing them.

After all (the logic of the film goes), the NVA/VC invented these barbaric, cowardly tricks in the first place --

-- not the Green Berets.

The Berets are absolved of an appearance of unchivalrous inhumanity because they are presented as only responding in kind --

-- out of necessity --

-- and are only resorting --

-- reluctantly --

-- to their own trademark resourcefulness. This sets the stage for the filmmakers, through their Beret proxies, to completely dehumanize the enemy via the Flying Maciste Brothers' preferred technique of cinematic abstraction.

The first "human" dummy death is almost subliminal, occurring in the background amidst all the battlefield mayhem.

Surrounded by moving actors portraying the attacking NVA, the cartwheeling rag doll erupts from their midst and arcs through the air --

-- thus wedding it, in the minds of the audience, to its living counterparts beneath.

However, this is only an appetizer for the main course to come...


The Berets, obviously bored of C-rations and raw snake, decide to dabble in a little native cuisine and fire up some USA-style Gà nướng sả.

USA-style Gà nướng sả

The Hollywood soldier in Wayne wants to wage an ideological war against the "lost generation" of youthful Vietnam War protesters by cinematically recruiting an even younger, future army of would be war heroes.

The Hollywood cowboy in Wayne still wants to ride off into the sunset.

But at the conclusion of THE GREEN BERETS, is the sun setting or rising? The answer is both.

Wayne is not alone this time as he "rides" off at the conclusion of the movie. For him the sun is setting simply because that is how it should be. How it must be. How could his story possibly end any other way? But the coast of Vietnam faces east. It is, in fact -- in reality -- a rising sun.

It rises for little Hamchunk, Wayne's thrice orphaned brother-in-arms --

-- symbolically breaking the dawn upon a new generation of "toy soldiers" --

-- ready to become heroes in any new war --

-- against any old "bad guy".

all text © Howard S. Berger & Kevin Marr


Anonymous said...

Awesome, awesome piece on what many called "the wrong film at the wrong time."

Arbogast said...

God, I do love this movie. God bless your work and God bless the United States of America!

Fred said...

GI Joe is not a doll, it's an action figure!

Brilliant deconstruction of this entire film, the times it was made, the Vietnam War and the marketing of war to children (GI Joe, toy soldiers and Ker-plunk bring back some serious memories which are now further jaded by your relationship of them to this film). We always have to wait months for your posts, but they are always worthy of our patience and never disappoint.

The Flying Maciste Brothers said...

Thank you, thank you and thank you!
Glad you enjoyed the cuisine. With fine guests such as yourselves, it's always a pleasure to fire up the grill!

Ivan said...

Another incredible post: Thanks!
(While a senior in high school, I wrote an essay trying to explain why I liked The Green Berets, even while knowing that it was a bad film (not "bad" politically, but poorly written and directed). My teacher then proceeded to explain "camp" to me.)

rob79125 said...

This analysis hits the point in noting that Wayne's Green Berets was targeted at kids. In my opinion New York Times film reviewer Renata Adler was right when she said of the film: "THE GREEN BERETS is a film so unspeakable, so stupid, so rotten and false in every detail that it passes through being fun, through being funny, through being camp, through everything and becomes an invitation to grieve, not for our soldiers or for Vietnam (the film could not be more false or do a greater disservice to either of them) but for what has happened to the fantasy-making apparatus in this country. Simplicities of the right, simplicities of the left, but this one is beyond the possible. It is vile and insane."


scott hill said...

Glad you liked it . A nice insight to a great american film . Better than hokey stuff like private ryan . Need to get the poster . Will have to show this movie to my Scout Troop for the American Heritage merit badge .Liked the insight to the movie making like Stanley Krubricks hidden messages . Another great director .

scott hill said...

I have the M-16 that like the one John hit against the tree and can tell by the magazine that it is the same one . I thought they were the same size as the real thing and guess they are. Didn't see where you mentioned that the M-16 stock is made by Mattel a toy company.