Hamburger Hill (1987)

There are 3 replies in this Thread which was already clicked 8,667 times. The last Post () by LtSam.

Participate now!

Don’t have an account yet? Register yourself now and be a part of our community!



    Information From IMDb

    Plot Summary
    A brutal and realistic war film focuses on the lives of a squad of 14 U.S. Army soldiers of B Company, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infanty Regiment, 101st Airborne Division during the brutal 10 day (May 11-20, 1969) battle for Hill 937 in the A Shau Valley of Vietnam as they try again and again to take the fortified hill held by the North Vietnamese, and the faults and casualties they take every time in which the battle was later dubbed "Hamburger Hill" because enemy fire was so fierce that the fusillade of bullets turned assaulting troops into shreded hamburger meat.
    Written by Matthew Patay

    Full Cast
    Anthony Barrile ... Pvt. Vincent 'Alphabet' Languilli
    Michael Boatman ... Pvt. Ray Motown (as Michael Patrick Boatman)
    Don Cheadle ... Pvt. Johnny Washburn
    Michael Dolan ... Pvt. Harry Murphy
    Don James ... Pvt. Elliott 'Mac' McDaniel
    Dylan McDermott ... Sgt. Adam Frantz
    Michael A. Nickles ... Pvt. Paul Galvan (as M.A. Nickles)
    Harry O'Reilly ... Pvt. Michael Duffy
    Daniel O'Shea ... Pvt. Frank Gaigin
    Tim Quill ... Pvt. Joe Beletsky
    Tommy Swerdlow ... Pvt. Martin Bienstock
    Courtney B. Vance ... Spc. Abraham 'Doc' Johnson
    Steven Weber ... Sfc. Dennis Worcester
    Tegan West ... Lt. Terry Eden
    Kieu Chinh ... Mama San
    Doug Goodman ... Lagunas
    J.C. Palmore ... Healy
    J.D. Van Sickle ... Newsman

    Writing Credits
    James Carabatsos

    James Carabatsos .... producer
    Marcia Nasatir .... producer
    Jerry Offsay .... executive producer

    Original Music
    Philip Glass

    Peter MacDonald

    After the May 17 battle, Dylan McDermott, as Sgt. Frantz, vehemently tells an Army photographer who shows up to "Unass my AO!" In the condensed language of GI slang, it is an order to move his ass out of the sergeant's Area of Operations, and in this context it expresses the infantry GI's contempt for soldiers who don't fight.

    Some of the extras during filming were US Marines stationed in the Subic Bay, Philippines area.

    An electrician was electrocuted and killed in front of the cast and crew. Because of this, production was almost shut down but eventually continued after a memorial service.

    The paratroopers of U.S. Army's famous 101st Airborne Division, known as "The Screaming Eagles" due to their distinctive shoulder patch (a gold-beaked, red-tongued white-headed bald eagle on a black shield), were feared and respected by their North Vietnamese and Viet Cong enemies in Vietnam. The Vietnamese Communists called 101st troops "Chicken Men" because of the eagle shoulder patches, and had a cautious saying about them - "beware of the Chicken Men."

    The film was released shortly after Oliver Stone's Vietnam film Platoon (1986) won Best Picture at the Oscars. The two films' releases were followed by Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (1987).

    Don James later acted in John Irvin's film Next of Kin (1989).

    John Irvin had filmed a documentary in Vietnam during the war.

    Screenwriter James Carabatsos had fought in the Vietnam war. One reason that producer Marcia Nasatir came on board is because her son had also fought in Vietnam.

    The characters in the movie were named after men that writer James Carabatsos had fought alongside.

    Theatrical breakthrough for many of the cast, including Don Cheadle (who would go on to star in Crash (2004/I) and Traffic (2000)), Dylan McDermott (who went on to be in Steel Magnolias (1989) and In the Line of Fire (1993)), and Courtney B. Vance (best known for his roles in Nothing But the Truth (2008) and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (2001)).

    Both this film and Platoon (1986) were shot in the Philippines. Many of the actors hadn't been out of the United States before.

    Based on true events that occurred in 1969 during the Vietnam War.

    A number of Vietnamese advisers served to ensure the authenticity of the Vietnamese people. John Irvin in particular made sure that the film looked real.

    Dylan McDermott lost 25 pounds during production.

    Near the end of the film, there is a scene where a soldier, his face covered with bandages, is blindly reaching out to his comrades as they hurry past him. This is taken from a famous picture taken at the real Hamburger Hill.

    The reception among Vietnam veterans was very positive towards the film's authenticity and brutality.

    This movie's opening prologue states: "On 10 May 1969 Troops of the 101st Airborne Division engaged the enemy at the base of Hill 937 in the A Shau Valley. Ten days and eleven bloody assaults later, the Troops who fought there called it . . . HAMBURGER HILL."

    This movie's closing afterword states: "Hamburger Hill was secured on 20 May 1969. The war for hills and trails continued, the places and names forgotten, except by those who were there."

    The closing credits include a famous poem about the war written by Major Michael Davis O'Donnell on January 1, 1970. O'Donnell was declared missing in action on March 24, 1970 after piloting a helicopter on an extraction mission inside Cambodia. He was declared killed in action in 1978. His remains were recovered and identified with DNA testing many years later, and were interred at Arlington National Cemetery in 2001.

    First cinema film of Courtney B. Vance.

    The following poem is shown at the beginning of the credits:

    If you are able,
    save for them a place
    inside of you
    and save one backward glance
    when you are leaving
    for the places they can
    no longer go.
    Be not ashamed to say
    you loved them,
    though you may
    or may not have always.
    Take what they have left
    and what they have taught you
    with their dying
    and keep it with your own.
    And in that time
    when men decide and feel safe
    to call the war insane,
    take one moment to embrace
    those gentle heroes
    you left behind.

    Major Michael Davis O'Donnell
    1 January 1970
    Dak To, Vietnam

    Anachronisms: Although the practice of subduing unit shoulder patches was officially adopted during the Vietnam war, there were some units that refused to subdue their patches because of unit pride. The 101st Airborne Division was the major one that never subdued their shoulder patches. The 101st did not subdue the patch until BDUs started to be worn.

    Factual errors: In the scene where Sgt Franz is calling in an arty strike, he repeats "Rounds out" every time he heard an arty piece being shot. The correct radio comm procedure would have been the arty unit to call "Rounds over". Franz would have responded "Rounds out". 2-3 seconds before the rounds impacted, the arty unit would have radioed. "Splash over". Franz would have responded, "Splash out". This lets friendly units know rounds are coming down range and time to get down.

    Factual errors: By 1969, most US Army troops, as well as other branches of service during the Vietnam War, would have been issued and using the M16A1 (with bird-cage flash suppressor), instead of the XM-16 depicted in the movie.

    Factual errors: Most ground combat forces in Vietnam were issued 20-round magazines for their M-16; not the 30-round, banana-clip style as depicted.

    Anachronisms: In the scene at base camp, when the soldiers are playing in the water, the song "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag" by Country Joe & The Fish is playing in the background. While the studio version had been released by May '69, the version in the movie was recorded at the Woodstock Music Festival, which took place a few months later in August '69.

    Memorable Quotes

    Filming Locations
    Vietnam Veterans Memorial - Constitution Ave. & Bacon Dr. NW, National Mall, Washington, District of Columbia, USA

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 3 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Hamburger Hill is a 1987 American war film about the actual assault
    of the U.S. Army's 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, part of the 3rd Brigade,
    101st Airborne Division 'Screaming Eagles', on a well-fortified position
    , including trenchworks and bunkers, of the North Vietnamese Army
    on Ap Bia Mountain near the Laotian border.
    American military records of the battle refer to the mountain as 'Hill 937',
    its map designation having been derived from its being 937 meters high.

    Written by James Carabatsos and directed by John Irvin,
    the film starred Dylan McDermott, Steven Weber,
    Courtney B. Vance, Don Cheadle and Michael Boatman.
    The novelization was written by William Pelfrey.
    Set in May 1969 during the Vietnam War,
    the movie was produced by RKO Pictures and distributed by Paramount Pictures

    A very realistic interpretation of one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.
    One that our members have mentioned, so a classic in it's own right.

    User Reviews
    2 October 1999 | by Tin Man-5 (Auke Bay, Alaska)


    Many excellent Vietnam films, in an attempt to present their own interpretation of America's darkest hour, ask many political questions vital to the war: "What were we fighting for?" "Was this worth it?" "When does morality take over?" "When does the fighting stop?"

    On the other hand, "Hamburger Hill" doesn't need to state any such questions. Rather, it presents the viewer with the scenario-- a group of men trying to advance on a hill-- and allows him to come to his own conclusions. It is a wonderful display of characters from all walks of life, and how hard times brought them together. Some want to be there, others don't, but they call all make the same statement: When it comes to their determination to get on top of that hill and advance upon the enemy, all of those political questions "don't mean nothin'."

    This is probably the best Vietman film as far as visuals go. The actions sequences are raw and gory, and the locations are incredibly depressing-- setting the perfect stage for a war movie. Combined with excellent performances by everyone involved, this is certainly an underrated film that presents a clear picture of what the war truly might have been like.

    Look forward to your comments on this movie

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 4 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • This is my favorite film of the Vietnam War, bar none. It's the most realistic by far and the performancees by all concerned are great, even though they were completely unknown to most of the movie world when it was made.

    De gustibus non est disputandum

  • I had 3 OC 69-67 classmates on the hill. One 1LT Jimmy Dimmock died there! 1 other classmate carried off & 1 walked off!

    Please go to the Vietnam Virtual wall on Memorial Day & remember Jimmy!

    1LT Sam Robertson, 9th US, HHC(briefly); MACV Tm 75, 1969