The Green Berets (1968)

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  • http://www.newportbeachfilmfes…015/john-wayne-spotlight/

    This years John Wayne spotlight film is The Green Berets.

    Saturday, April 25th, 2015
    Island Cinema

    A cynical reporter who is opposed to the Vietnam War is sent to cover the conflict and assigned to tag along with a group of Green Berets.

    Dir: Ray Kellogg, John Wayne
    Starring: John Wayne, David Janssen, Jim Hutton, Aldo Ray, Jack Soo, Luke Askew, Mike Henry, George Takei

  • I watched this last night on blu-ray that offers an exceptional picture but, at times, can be too revealing in terms of effects. I noticed the stunt dummies really stood out in countless scenes. This is a movie I have to watch with LOADS of context. A younger person watching this movie for the first time without any reference to the times might be harsh on it's treatment. But that's a challenge for many war movies since most of those films speak to a particular mood prominent for that era.

    Ultimately I have to watch this as more of a straight ahead adventure film and leave the reality of war concept behind, That being said, I still have some issues with the movie even when I watch it from that vantage point. There are too many scenes where John Wayne is almost detached to what is going on. When their copter get's shot down and he comes rolling out of the burning wreckage and pops up like he trained for it while another guy is totally engulfed in flames...well... that's a monster handful of artistic license at play there. From my wheelhouse, those kinds of scenes take me out of the story because they are SO over-the-top I can't really accept that as a believable scenario even within the parameters of that story.

    Now I can accept allot of things as believable if the story sets the parameters for me to follow. I'll buy donkeys can fly if it's staged properly in that world. But here that outer edge of probability is really tested without any hard rules to say " our hero is walking the edge now". So the general dangers of war, for me anyway, are really softened by Wayne's casual reaction to most situations that carry a much more intense moment. It's like they took his cowboy sensibilities of getting knocked off a horse and dressed him in a soldiers outfit. But getting knocked off a horse and crashing to earth in a burning helicopter are not equal. So, in my mind, those situations call for two different reactions even if we want to say the character is being brave and heroic in the moment. It's not hard to see why critics were tough on the film given it's stark emotional removal and apparent tone deafness to the times. But it's John Wayne doing what he does best, so at the end of the day, I forgive allot of it's obvious flaws and enjoy it as a straight ahead adventure film. Not one of my favorites but not one I would leave out of my collection either. I just prefer Wayne in a cowboy hat. It suits him well.