Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, No. 25. October 8, 1968
Films — No way to treat a war
No way to treat a war
Perhaps The Green Berets (Batjac for, eventually, Warner-Seven Arts) isn't worth a review. But one claim to notice is its embodiment of that now-forgotten genre, the Boy Scout War Film, where motives counted higher than means. Courtesy of Big John and the Pentagon loos this neglected art-form has been resurrected in perfectly preserved frankensense down in the steaming, woginfested jungles of Florida.
The most disappointing feature of this long-hatched wingless monstrosity was that it was inordinately boring. We needed more than Messiahs of the Minimen (thanks Don), but an Apostle of the Minutemen to liven things up. Of the Cong, the Cong, it was merely How many have ya killed today? And that was all in long shot. There was a loosening down on the Crusade elements, only the new sophisticate angle of a Dirty Job That's Got To Be Done; too bad a few get hurt. Anyway things got moving, picture-wise, after about half an hour of demo in which I spoted The Fugitive whose shameful looks down made me think I also saw Lt. Gerard sitting next to Shirley Temple Black in the back row (Sergeant Barrie Sadler did his bit over the credits).
Once in "Vietnam" we learn that all the streets are named after heroes—very posthumorous. And where did all those Connecticut women come into the picture? One orphan and several battle scenes later the shameful Fugitive has faced up to his responsibilities (this time he remembered his typewriter—the other journalists wouldn't give him one now that he had sold out). Local insurrectionists learned something of boobs and boobys. The odd characters were all flogged from better films: Jim Hutton was a saccharine version of Bill Holden from Stalag 17, a Mata Hari in brag, Token Negroes from every film since Little Rock, and Aldo Bullneck Ray has played baddies all along. Only Big John remains, undaunted and chaste only by the Cong, the Cong.
Righteous reviewers, all for the public good in their little conspiracies against the AWOL, have called this film the 'nastiest, most pernicious, subversive vomitproducing piece of war propaganda", no doubt in a vain attempt to Keep people away in case Big John's message gets further than the outhouse. I wouldn't agree. I thought it was fun. Smell-o-vision never reached NZ, so Kiwi self-reliance provided a good import substitute. A stinky film produced its own fragrance to get us truly alienated. Many wise ones left before the 2½ hours were up.
So The Green Berets has happened, and soon will be forgotten. Don't let is miss you. You never had to keep your mouth shut in the movies; this time you just can't help it when the Cong flag is run up.
The Detective (20th Century-Fox) is probably Hollywood's most critical look at the forces of law and order since the Bed era. Well-written by Abby Mann, its study of a cop (Frank Sinatra) who finds it impossible to beat the system because he himself is corrupted and is forced to copout, is intelligent and believable. Lapses in direction (Gordon Douglas) and an uncertain staginess of the homosexual theme do not detract from the overall virtues of the narrative and the content.