The Green Berets (1968)

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Released 2-Apr-1999

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Biographies-Cast-John Wayne & David Janssen
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1968
Running Time 136:19
RSDL / Flipper FLIPPER (72:48) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Wayne
Ray Kellogg
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring John Wayne
David Janssen
Jim Hutton
Aldo Ray
Raymond St. Jacques
Bruce Cabot
Jack Soo
George Takei
Patrick Wayne
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Miklos Rosza


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I'd like to say from the outset that I love old war movies. A rainy Sunday afternoon, a great war movie and I'm away. Unfortunately, The Green Berets leaves me a little cold with its patriotic overtones and its simplistic view of what was a far more complex situation. Not that this movie doesn't have its redeeming qualities, but if you swapped horses for helicopters you could be watching a Western!

    Adapted by James Lee Barrett from the novel by Robin Moore, it is directed by John Wayne and Ray Kellogg. The Green Berets takes us on a sugar-coated ride of Americans winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people (and the war). Heavy doses of chest thumping and anti-communistic rhetoric abound. Our heroes die heroically, selflessly saving the lives of the downtrodden South Vietnamese. Wounds are depicted by blotches of red paint and the body count would put any Rambo movie to shame.

    The movie is basically in two parts. The first is the defense of Camp A107 located deep in the heart of Viet Cong territory, the second an infiltration mission to capture an NVA general. Neither really has much to do with the other.

    The movie open at Fort Benning, where Green Berets are 'educating' a group of everyday Americans as to their capabilities. In the meantime, Colonel Mike Kirby (John Wayne) is putting together his troops. They include Jim Hutton as Sgt Peterson, aka the "scrounger", Aldo Ray as Sgt Muldoon, the no-nonsense non-com with a heart of gold and Luke Askew as Sgt Provo (who name is supposed to provide a verbal running gag). The 'fly' in the ointment is provided by George Beckworth (David Janssen) a cynical 'liberal' journalist who questions America's involvement but is a true 'hawk' by movie's end.

    After gathering the troops, we move to Vietnam and Camp A107, where we meet the redoubtable Captain Nim played by George Takei (Star Trek TOS) and Hamchunk, the resident orphan (Craig Jue) to round out our cast. From here on in the plot settles into a definite "Commie bad, American good" bent. We see kindly South Vietnamese villagers bringing their wounded in for treatment, persuaded by leaflets dropped from planes, we are treated to a  reconnaissance mission 'discovering' the horrors inflicted on the friendly villages by the evil Viet Cong (obviously My Lai had not raised its ugly head at this time) and we are treated to a pitched battle for Camp A107 (very well done if a little short on reality - did they really use the 'human wave' technique in Vietnam? I thought that was used in Korea.).

    I won't bore you with the rest of the movie, since if you've gotten this far in you are in for the long haul anyway! There are a lot of good shots of  military equipment in use both on the ground and in the air (interspersed with actual footage) and there was certainly no expense spared in the making of the movie. It's a pity more can't be said for the plot and the cast. There were an awful lot of overweight soldiers in Vietnam it seems.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is good, complementing the transfer. Backgrounds are generally crisp and clear although during night scenes there is some blurring of detail. There is no visible edge enhancement. The shadow detail is quite reasonable given the age of the source material.

    The film has almost no grain to speak of with two exceptions. These exceptions, it must be noted, are almost certainly composited from actual footage. At 24:54, four "Huey" helicopters are seen flying in formation. There is substantial grain and some macro blocking visible on the fuselages of the helicopters. The second instance is on side two at 53:58 (126:46). The composite shows an actual Fulton Star "Skyhook" extraction. The grain is present mostly on the actual footage. The ultimate effect of a captured NVA general being extracted is quite good though. Today this would all be done with CGI.

    The only major problem with the transfer of this movie is oversaturation of colour. The blues and greens look deep and vibrant but the red overemphasizes skin tones making everyone look like they have a mild case of sunburn.

    There is some macro blocking visible at 23:43 on the edge of a gun barrel attached to a jeep. There is also minor aliasing throughout the movie, but in scenes where you would expect a lot of aliasing (e.g. shots with venetian blinds), there is none. The transfer suffers from some minor film artefacts. These are mostly white flecks and some purple discolourations. They are not a major distraction and diminish rapidly a couple of minutes into the movie.

    There are three sets of subtitles available, English, English for the Hearing Impaired and Arabic. The subtitles were clear and visible throughout the movie.

    This is a FLIPPER disk, requiring flipping at 72:48. The change comes at the end of a chapter and is not too disruptive (apart from being forced to get out of one's comfy chair!).

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one soundtrack on this DVD; English in Dolby Digital 1.0 at a respectable 192Kb/s. There were no noticeable audio defects.

    Dialogue is clear and distinct. There are no noticeable problems with the voice level, fadeouts, pops or dropouts, although there was a slight echo at 5:05 which was possibly due to the age of the original source material. There were no sync problems noted other than two obvious overdubs at 15:52 and 76:00.

    The movie opens and closes with stanzas from the song Ballad of the Green Berets by Barry Sadler, which I believe was a minor hit in its day. The incidental music is by Miklos Rosza (Ben Hur, El Cid, Quo Vadis, Eye of the Needle). The music is exceptionally well done considering the limitations of the soundtrack. It is neither overbearing nor intrusive except for one or two odious pieces meant to elicit sympathy whenever Hamchunk, the resident orphan, appears onscreen.

    The only speaker in use is the centre. Left, Right, Surrounds and Subwoofer are all completely inactive throughout the feature. Sound effects are limited to explosions and gunfire and are reasonably well handled.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is another barebones DVD.

Menu

    The menu is a static graphic featuring a metal background with the same picture of John Wayne as can be found on the front cover of the DVD. There are four menu options, 1) Jump to a scene, 2) Cast and Crew, 3) Languages, 4) Play Movie

Filmographies-Cast

    1) John Wayne - Colonel Mike Kirby and 2) David Janssen  - George Beckworth. Both are fairly stock.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     Given the superiority of PAL over NTSC and 16x9 enhancement, the Region 4 version is the one of choice.

Summary

    Overall this is a fairly reasonable DVD given its age, picture wise. The transfer would do some more recent movies proud, except for the oversaturation problem. The audio is in mono. It is clear, but lacks any real gusto. The extras are almost non-existent and the original DVD release came in a snapper case. The plot would make a great 1950s western, but otherwise is pretty standard fare. There are many better movies about the Vietnam War (Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Odd Angry Shot). I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys watching the "Duke" in all his glory but not as a true depiction of the Vietnam war. What can I say but "move 'em out"...

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Carl Berry (read my bio)
Tuesday, March 27, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V959a
SpeakersFront: JBL TLX-16's, Centre: Polk Audio CS245, Surrounds: Polk Audio M3II's, Subwoofer: M&K V75 Mark2

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