"Go Tell the Spartans" was the best film released in 1978 about the Vietnam War, which was the same year as both "Coming Home" and "The Deer Hunter." This is because those other films were less about the actual war than they were about relationships and the code of the warrior.
Based on Daniel Ford's novel "Incident at Muc Wa," the strength of this film is Wendell Mayes" brilliant script, which was nominated for a SAG Award. The film features one of Burt Lancaster's best performances as Major Asa Barker, a military adviser who knows in 1964 there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Lancaster heads a group of American military advisors in the time before Johnson made the massive commitment of troops to the war, who see the parallels between what is about to happen and the downfall of the French a decade earlier, and who know there is nothing they can do to stop their country from making a terrible mistake.
Obviously our reading of this film is colored by what we already knew in 1978 and what we take for granted now: the Vietnam War was a fiasco of epic proportions. Craig Wasson has the other main role as Corporal Courcey while other recognizable members in the cast are Marc Singer as Captain Olivetti, David Clennon as Lt. Finley Wattsberg, Dolph Sweet as General Harnitz and Clyde Kusatsu as Colonel Minh. Oh, and I have to make special mention of Dennis Howard, who plays Corporal Abraham Lincoln.
Ultimately, "Go Tell The Spartans" does not portray what it was like for grunts during the Vietnam War--you can watch "Platoon" or even "Forrest Gump" to get a much better idea of that experience than you will here--but this film does deal with the greater tragedy of the war than any other film I have seen, even if it takes place before we really got involved waist deep in the Big Muddy.