The Green Berets (1968)

G   |    |  Drama, War


The Green Berets (1968) Poster

Col. Mike Kirby picks two teams of crack Green Berets for a mission in South Vietnam. First off is to build and control a camp that is trying to be taken by the enemy the second mission is to kidnap a North Vietnamese General.


5.8/10
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Photos

  • John Wayne and Winton C. Hoch in The Green Berets (1968)
  • John Wayne and George Takei in "The Green Berets," Warner Bros. 1968.
  • John Wayne in The Green Berets (1968)
  • John Wayne and Irene Tsu in The Green Berets (1968)
  • Jim Hutton in The Green Berets (1968)
  • John Wayne and Craig Jue in The Green Berets (1968)

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16 January 2006 | ubercommando
About as viable as most Vietnam war movies
No, seriously. "The Green Berets" is about as viable and creditable as "The Boys in Company C" or "Casualties of War". It's hard to find a Vietnam war movie that DOESN'T come full of distortions based on the film makers political agendas; it's just this time "The Green Berets" comes from the pro-involvement side.

We've heard the negatives about this movie, and most of them are basically correct but there are a few things to say that, if not positive, put the movie in a less negative light.

First, this isn't your usual piece about 19 year old conscripts being called up to fight in a war they don't understand. The real Special Forces are career professionals who have very high standards of training and discipline. "The Green Berets" isn't a movie about your average grunt; it's about commandos and a lot of the training, tactics and equipment is accurate for the time. The experience of the special forces in Vietnam was widely different from line conscripts; and they won a lot of victories.

Second, it was a bold move to make a movie about the Vietnam war whilst it was still going on. The movie was made shortly before the Tet Offensive of 1968 when the initiative was still with the US and South Vietnamese forces. This is a Vietnam war movie from the early part of the war...something "Platoon" falls down on is depicting the unit in a state of disorganisation, with the usual drug taking and indiscipline scenes that have become cliché, in 1967 when the reality was that discipline and cohesion in the field in '67 was a lot tighter. Stone depicts events that would not become common in front line troops until '69-'70. Yes, I know he served a tour of duty over there but a number of his fellow veterans have called his depiction of events into question.

Third, the early part of the movie with the relationships between US Special Forces officers and ARVN counterparts is fairly well done. The SF had been present in Vietnam from '62 onwards and by '67-'68 had built up a good working relationship with ARVN Ranger units (the only South Vietnamese army units that were well trained and led).

Now the pine tree issue. Well, I hate to break it to people but not all of Vietnam is palm trees and jungle. In the area of Cochinchina just north of Saigon and into the hilly Montangnard country, there are a lot of deciduous and evergreen trees. I was surprised to find this when doing research on the US 25th Infantry Division and finding a lot of their patrol area wasn't in jungle but hilly woodland. Pine trees maybe stretching things a little bit though but it's not impossible.

The politics. Yes, the Duke is on the right wing campaign trail but other film makers have used the Vietnam war to promote the liberal left agenda so I don't get why that is acceptable and an alternative view that doesn't conform to that is inherently wrong. The scene at the beginning of the movie has Aldo Ray explaining how China, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union were sending aid to North Vietnam...so Oliver Stone's assertions that the VC were self-liberating and proudly defiant are deeply wrong. The VC and NVA were tools of a communist regime that were being heavily supplied and subsidised by other Communist regimes. I'm not advocating that the US's involvement in a war in Vietnam was right, just that people understand the involvement of other nations as well.

For those who think this movie is bad because it doesn't depict American atrocities, drug taking and insubordination like other Vietnam war movies have merely bought into another set of falsehoods. This goes back to my original point; "The Green Berets" isn't particularly realistic...but then again, neither are most other movies about that war.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The house from which John Wayne's team kidnaps the North Vietnamese general was on a heavily wooded estate in Columbus, Georgia, off of Hilton Avenue, just north of the intersections of 13th Street, Wynnton Avenue, and Macon Road. It was chosen by Wayne's production crew for its classic neo-French architecture and because the grounds were adorned with non-native plants and trees. Unfortunately, the house burned to the ground in the 1990s, the lot was never rebuilt upon and to this day is home to the various plant species that appeared in the movie. On a more whimsical note, during the scenes where Wayne's assault team sneaks up on the villa (during the day), if you stop-motion the DVD as Wayne and Jim Hutton survey the situation, you can look between the foliage and see cars passing by on Wynnton Ave, and the parking lot of Sara Spanno's Fish House, a popular Columbus seafood restaurant for many years, in the background.


Quotes

Colonel Mike Kirby: You're what this is all about.


Goofs

It is clearly implied that Col. Kirby and Capt. McDaniel both have previous tours to Vietnam. But, early on, when they are shown wearing their ribbons, neither one has any ribbon earned while serving in 'Nam. Nor do they have the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal which was awarded for Vietnamese service prior to 1965. From 1965 on, U.S. forces earned the Vietnam Service medal. Most also earned the Vietnam Campaign medal issued by the Vietnamese government and authorized for wear by U.S. service people.


Alternate Versions

In the original UK cinema version the BBFC edited some shots of a man impaled with a tree branch for an 'A' (PG) certificate. All later releases were uncut.


Soundtracks

Ballad of the Green Berets
(uncredited)
Written by
Robin Moore and Barry Sadler
Choral arrangement by Ken Darby

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