7 November 2005 | Skragg
Very, very well-done
I gave it a 10, not because it's perfect, but I'm pretty prejudiced about it. "Tribes" is really part of a long tradition in the movies (the misfit becomes a model soldier because of the tough but decent sergeant), but of course it plays around with all the rules - in the first place, you're practically certain that the misfit WON'T be influenced all that much (or that he SHOULD BE), and in the second place, HE begins to influence the SERGEANT! Against his will, of course ("It's not my drawing!"). In spite of being made in 1970, it's far from being strictly a Vietnam-oriented movie. And it's even more than a "hippie vs. the Establishment" movie (though those are fine with me), but a lot more general (I've heard that it was endorsed by the Marine Corps, I guess because it they considered it pretty "balanced".) I don't know much about meditation, but one of the best scenes in this film has Private Adrian describing it to the other recruits, while they listen with "rapt attention", including Scrunch Gordon, the "jock" who hated him at first. Which is another thing - it does without genuine stereotypes, except for Earl Holliman's DePayster, who's nice enough in other scenes, but becomes an over-the-top redneck at the sight of Adrian. (And Holliman is completely entertaining doing those scenes.) Of course, it does have "stock characters", ones that work - like John Gruber as the tragic character, Danny Goldman as the completely comical one. (According to this listing, Bud Cort was in it, though I've never recognized him.) As far as the completely funny scenes, Darrin McGavin is really great in them, giving almost an Oliver Hardy kind of look sometimes (a little like his wonderful character in "A Christmas Story"). And he's never less than great in the other scenes (he and Vincent seemed to work perfectly together). And Jan-Michael Vincent is completely believable as Adrian (because of that, I've always "typecast" him as that kind of character, even though I've hardly ever SEEN him play a similar one).