24 January 2009 | tedmccarron
A moving true story
I had not seen this movie in nearly thirty year until this week, when I watched it from a VHS tape that I ordered used from amazon.com. It tells of the plight of Vietnamese orphans and the struggle to rescue them by flying them to America before Saigon's impending fall to the communists. It is interesting to see Ina Balin play herself, and Shirley Jones does a fine job of portraying Betty Tisdale. The Vietnamese children also did a very good job acting, sometimes nearly moving me to tears.
One small problem I had with the film, was the constant reference to the "Vietcong." There was a scene at the beginning of ARVN soldiers chasing down Vietcong guerrillas wearing their "black pajamas", and there was much talk about "if the Vietcong take Saigon." Actually, the Vietcong (officially called the National Liberation Front) were nearly wiped out seven years earlier during the Tet offensive. These communist guerrillas were aided and controlled by the much more formidable North Vietnamese army, aka NVA. It was the NVA that actually fought most of the war after 1968 and it was certainly them with their well stocked arsenal of Soviet tanks, rockets, and modern equipment that converged on Saigon in 1975, not the decimated Vietcong.
I also appreciated the scenes of South Vietnamese soldiers rushing about during the final days of the war. In most Vietnam war related movies the ARVN doesn't even seem to exist, leaving many historically illiterate viewers to think the war was between "Vietnam" and America. Although I'm a white American, I keep a South Vietnamese flag hanging in my window as a memorial to them. I also appreciate how the movie accurately portrayed who the good guys and who the bad guys were. In this era of political correctness where the communists are portrayed as dedicated heroes and the Americans as baby killers, this movie is refreshing.
You too will feel the desperation of these people as they fight bureaucratic red tape to save the orphans from the communists. Although you can tell that the movie was on a "made for TV" budget, the drama and the suspense make for a very good movie.
SPOILER ALERT!!!!! It would have been nice if at the end the movie would have told us what happened to the children over ten years old.