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Go Tell the Spartans [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Burt Lancaster , Craig Wasson , Ted Post    DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: 2.61
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Go Tell the Spartans [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + Lost Command [DVD] [2002]
Price For Both: 7.56

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Product details

  • Actors: Burt Lancaster, Craig Wasson, Jonathan Goldsmith, Marc Singer, Joe Unger
  • Directors: Ted Post
  • Writers: Daniel Ford, Wendell Mayes
  • Producers: Allan F. Bodoh, Jesse Corallo, Michael Leone, Mitchell Cannold
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: R (Restricted) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Hbo Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: 30 Aug 2005
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007TKNDI
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,112 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Burt Lancaster (Birdman of Alcatraz; The Train; Local Hero) excels in this unduly overlooked, very well-made Vietnam War film as battle-hardened veteran soldier, Maj. Asa Barker, who is sent to Vietnam as a US military advisor just prior to America's full-scale involvement in the war. Set in 1964, he has doubts as to whether they should be there but soon finds himself forced to try to defend his postion against overwhelming odds with little hope of relief. Co-stars include Marc Singer (The Baestmaster) & Craig Wasson (Body Double).

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAME VINE VOICE
Format:VHS Tape
"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.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Burt Lancaster at his best 22 Jan 2011
I wrote the underlying book, so perhaps it's brash of me to review the film, but some background might be useful. The movie script was shopped around Hollywood for years, with most of the 1960s leading men playing Major Barker at one time or another, but nobody wanted to touch a Vietnam War movie while the war was going on. There was also a problem in that the US Army wouldn't cooperate in the project, meaning they couldn't borrow military equipment. (That's why you'll see a Marine Corps helicopter in one scene: the Sikorsky was available cheap.) Finally it was financed with Burt Lancaster in the star role, by selling $10,000 interests to doctors and lawyers who wanted to play at being movie angels and to drink coffee in the canteen with a Hollywood legend.

It was filmed along a river in Santa Barbara, California, with Los Angeles Vietnamese refugees hired as extras. Even so, they ran out of money, and Mr Lancaster not only gave up his fee but advanced money of his own to finish the job. I think he's great in the role, though he's much too old to be a US Army major. "Spartans" is one of several interesting films he made toward the end of his career, including "Castle Keep" and "1912"--movies in which he is making a personal statement more than he is trying to make money or burnish his reputation. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

(Oh, and the book is Incident at Muc Wa, available also for the Kindle e-book reader.)
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Adapted from Daniel Ford's novel 'Incident at Muc-Wa,' GO TELL THE SPARTANS is a fairly low-key morality tale set in 1964 (the iconic M-16 assault-rifle had not been introduced in South-east Asia yet), before the USA's main era of active military embroilment in Vietnam (1965-71). Major Asa Barker (Burt Lancaster) is a cynical veteran soldier sent as part of the US Mission's task to equip and train the Army of the Republic of (South) Vietnam (ARVN, pronounced 'Arvin' - a South-Vietnamese soldier was invariably termed 'Marvin the Arvin'). He is beset with doubts about his mission and its value: of the ARVN's ability to combat the Viet-Cong, as well as of the Republic's willingness to fight the growing Communist threat. The title refers to the following: most of the film's action takes place near a French military cemetery, above which is the inscription (in French) "Oh stranger, go tell the Spartans that we lie here, obedient to their word" - Simonides' epitaph to Leonidas' 300 Spartans who held-off the enormous Persian host at Thermopylae (480 BC).
A comprehensive deconstruction of the causes of the Vietnam War and the USA's involvement in it is more the province of serious academic study and Government-commissioned report-writing. And there have been many, very many of these since 1975. But perhaps a few key points might suffice to the casual reader and viewer of Vietnam War films.
First and foremost, the Republic of South-Vietnam was never a unified country, as the West would define 'a unified country.' As with most post-colonial nations, their national boundaries were an administrative technicality imposed on the region(s) by the former colonial powers, in Vietnam's case France. Ethnic divisions were uniform.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and Absorbing 11 Feb 2011
"Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here, obedient to their
laws, we lie. "

(The following review contains plot spoilers)

This film, which had been scheduled to complete in 31 days, was shot outside LA, with an agreed budget of $ 1.5 million. The excellent script, by Wendell Mayes, was based on Daniel Ford's novel " Incident at Muc Wa ". The script itself had been doing the rounds since 1972 when the idea of a movie, with William Holden in the starring role of Major Asa Barker, stalled due to difficulties in raising the estimated $7 million finance.

Five years later, the director, Ted Post (Hang'em High 1968, Magnum Force 1973,) sent the script to sixty -five years old Lancaster, who, liking it greatly, immediately replied " This this a ....... Brilliant script. Don't let anybody touch it. I'm coming up and I'm going to do it with you." Lancaster's enthusiasm for the Movie was so great that not only did he agree to start shooting, while his knee injury (suffered during a golfing accident during the filming of John Frankenheimer's: The Train 1964,) was still bothering him, and thus forcing him to limp during the film, but also agreed to pay out $ 150,000 of his own money, in the last few days of the shoot, when the producer, according to Post, failed to honour his commitments.

Major Asa Barker (Burt Lancaster) a very capable officer, who has lost any likelihood of progression to a more senior rank on account of a personal indiscretion, was made a commanding officer of a poorly- manned outpost in rural South Vietnam.
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