"The Green Berets" simply will not do as a film about the war in Vietnam. It is offensive not only to those who oppose American policy but even to those who support it. At this moment in our history, locked in the longest and one of the most controversial wars we have ever fought, what we certainly do not need is a movie depicting Vietnam in terms of cowboys and Indians. That is cruel and dishonest and unworthy of the thousands who have died there.
It is not a simple war. We all know it is not simple. Perhaps we could have believed this film in 1962 or 1963, when most of us didn't much care what was happening in Vietnam. But we cannot believe it today. Not after television has brought the reality of the war to us.
But propaganda is what we get in "The Green Berets," a heavy-handed, remarkably old-fashioned film. It is supposed to be about Vietnam, but it isn't.
"THE GREEN BERETS" is a film so unspeakable, so stupid, so rotten and false in every detail that it passes through being fun, through being funny, through being camp, through everything and becomes an invitation to grieve, not for our soldiers or for Vietnam (the film could not be more false or do a greater disservice to either of them) but for what has happened to the fantasy-making apparatus in this country.
It is so full of its own caricature of patriotism that it cannot even find the right things to falsify.
It is completely incommunicado, out of touch. It trips something that would outrage any human sensibility, like mines, at every step and staggers on.
Wayne never lets us forget for a minute that we are in Vietnam to save the world from Communism, because if the country falls to the Commies, the Soviets would take over the world. Therefore, the film never misses an opportunity to portray every North Vietnamese soldier as a dirty, evil, vicious, bloodthirsty brute and every American and South Vietnamese soldier as a kind, sweet, courteous, gentle, caring soul. We were, after all, the good guys.