2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Thoughtful and Absorbing
, 11 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Go Tell The Spartans [DVD] (DVD)
"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. He knows that defending his command, with his available troops, consisting of a few American soldiers and a local militia of South Vietnamese, is hopeless but must obey General Harnitz' (Dolph Sweet) orders. Acting on orders, he sends out a detachment of troops into the jungle to reoccupy the former French base of Muc Wa. The tiny makeshift contingent succeeds initially in overcoming a small North Vietnamese ambush, but is soon overrun by the Vietcong. The first soldier killed is the outpost commander Lt. Hamilton (Joe Unger.) His next in command, Sergeant Oleonowski (Jonathan Goldsmith,) who is suffering battle fatigue and trauma, commits suicide. Major Barker (Lancaster) travels to the scene in Muc Wa and, while managing to relieve surviving US soldiers, chooses to stay behind with the idealist soldier Cpl. Courcey (Craig Wasson), who refuses to abandon the South Vietnamese militia to their fate. In the ensuing battle, every one, except Courcey, is killed. Courcey, having lost his idealism and dreams, is shown in the final frame, half- addressing an old Vietcong sniper he had seen earlier, uttering the last sentence in the narrative: " I'm goin' home, Charlie," and the year "1964" appears on the screen.
This marvellous film, thought by Stanley Kaufman of The New Republic, to be "The best film I have seen about the Vietnam War, " only managed to gross $3 million at the box office.
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