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Posted October 1, 2010
A historic political and artistic turning point for the USA
Put the Green Berets in your time capsule, because it was released precisely as the USA decided to pull itself apart. Propaganda, certainly, as are most war genre films ever released in any country that believes in itself. Few people can look past the blatant pro-Americanisms that dot this arch-typical John Wayne film... you either love it or hate it. Look past the politics, though, and you can see an honest attempt to portray what the filmmakers thought Vietnam was about... in a film largely made at Fort Benning with the full cooperation of the U.S. Army. Parts (vignettes) of the Green Berets could be a training film: for example, the SF sergeant's (Aldo Ray) adroit handling of the biased (should I say prejudiced) newsman's (David Janssen) pointed questioning and the scrounging sergeant (Jim Hutton). Booby traps, bunkers and fortifications were based upon real Vietnam combat experience, with many sets and props left after filming for use in training troops for Vietnam. Parts, of course, don't stand the test of time. Forget the final kidnap mission, whether or not based upon ''historical faction'' from Robin Moore's excellent book. One reason to have this in your time capsule is that the Green Berets is the last of the patriotic war films made since the invention of the medium. From this point onwards, films (including the Missing in Action genre) use antiheros (e.g., Rambo) for heroism, as often as not fighting against the corrupt American government - or at least the CIA. Oh ye of little faith; the pity is that many Americans will never know what it was like believing in your country... and in your government. The Green Berets is not high art. But as a tiny finger in a rapidly crumbling dike, the Green Berets merits a look by people who honestly want to understand what things were like in the old days when we were still the ''good guys''.
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