Go Tell The Spartans [DVD]
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In 1964 Vietnam, US Navy Major Asa Barker (Burt Lancaster) reluctantly sends a group of South Vietnamese troops and American advisors to a former French outpost. He fears that it will draw the Viet Cong into the area, and he is proved right. His unit of battle ravaged men is a microcosm of the whole American experience in the Vietnam War, as their morale dwindles in the face of insurmountable odds.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.)
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not a perfect film, but it is a worthy and interesting effort to tell us something about the early situation at the start of America's Vietnam War, after the French had pulled out. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Josh
This to my mind is the best film made about the Vietnam conflict. It focuses on an incident which occurred in 1964 at the early part of American involvement but really mirrors the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jim Kames
this purchase did not play in my band area. (dustbin) acquired proper version later.Published 10 months ago by Criss Penn
This is one of the best war movies ever made, even though there are few battle scenes and the focus is on circumstances and personalities. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Charles Ashbacher
This is a movie that you want to keep on the shelf and watch more than once. Well acted throughout.Published 22 months ago by AvidThriller Reader
This is a very good film and story at the start of the conflict. Good solid stars. A very good film for any collection.Published 22 months ago by Michael Headford