from The Water's Edge

Ten More Vietnam War Movies

Brendan Fraser and Michael Caine on the set of The Quiet American Reuters

May 20, 2017

Brendan Fraser and Michael Caine on the set of The Quiet American Reuters
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Two years ago I posted my picks for the "Top Ten Vietnam War Movies." As I noted earlier this month, whenever you post a list you are inviting people to point out what you missed. Since today is the forty-eighth anniversary of U.S. troops capturing Hill 937, which is depicted in one of my top ten movie picks, Hamburger Hill, I am sharing ten Vietnam movies people thought should have been on my original list. 

Steve Havenaar recommended two movies released in 2002, The Quiet American and We Were Soldiers. The Quiet American was a remake of a 1958 movie that was itself an adaptation of Graham Greene's classic novel about the havoc wreaked by an idealistic American aid worker. It's one of the best novels about the Cold War. We Were Soldiers is a dramatization of one of the best histories of the Vietnam War, We Were Soldiers Once...And Young. It tells the story of the first major clash between U.S. and North Vietnamese forces, the Battle of Ia Drang.  

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Matt Brandish and Deryle Perryman wondered why I omitted No 84 Charlie MoPic (1989). Matt says it's an "often overlooked movie about a LRRP team and Combat Motion Picture cameraman. See it, it's really good." 84 MoPic is military lingo for a military cameraman, while LRRP means long-range reconnaissance patrol. You can watch the film, which is shot in the style of the Blair Witch Project on YouTube

Deryle also liked Same Same But Different (2009), which he describes as "a well-made, modern take on the Vietnam debacle." It's a "story about forgiveness, and reconciliation. Watch it. It's good for your soul." Here's a link: https://vimeo.com/68704406

Ronald Yates and Noclu4u voted for Go Tell the Spartans (1978), which featured one of Hollywood's all-time greats, Burt Lancaster. It's set early in the American phase of the war, and Lancaster's character is a grizzled Korean War veteran who realizes that the war will not turn out well. Ronald also liked The Boys in Company C (1978), which tells the story of a group of young men who train for, and eventually fight in, Vietnam. 

Joe Bangert and William Shelton gave two thumbs up to Sir! No Sir! (2005). Joe says it is "a great film" that shows "the incredible internal resistance by America's soldiers, airmen, Marines, sailors and Coasties to the insanity of the Vietnam War. The film documents the G.I. Movement."

Randall Moody hailed Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), which featured the incomparable Robin Williams. The movie has personal meaning for Randall: "I was the officer in charge of Network News from June 1968 to June 1969. While the movie was a parody and humorous to a degree, there was more truth than fiction there. The military authorities were trying to insure the Government's view that the war was going swimmingly was conveyed to the 550,000 American troops there. Some of us thought they ought to know what was really happening."

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Angus Mansion recommended La 317ème sectionwhich was released back in 1965. It's about a French platoon trapped behind enemy lines in 1954, when France, rather than the United States, was discovering the limits of its power in Vietnam. La 317ème section was directed by Pierre Schoendoerffer, who also directed Diên Biên Phú (1992). It tells the story of an American journalist who finds himself at one of the most significant and horrifying battles of the twentieth century. 

We can endlessly debate the degree to which each of these films illuminates or obscures our understanding of Vietnam. And perhaps the answer for all of them is that they do a little of both as we continually rethink what we know about what was once American's longest war.

Corey Cooper assisted in the preparation of this post. 

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