Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: Go Tell the Spartans (1978)

U.S. History captivates me.  I'm particularly drawn to tales of the old west and stories about our country's various military exploits.  As someone who grew up shortly after the Vietnam war had concluded, that conflict has always greatly intrigued me.  There have been many notable films about that tragic war and I count Go Tell the Spartans among them.   Yet many who have seen movies like Apocalyspe Now, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, and We Were Soldiers haven't experienced this insightful look at the early stages of the conflict.  Burt Lancaster, one of the best leading men ever, stars as a cynical Major who has already fought in two wars before being sent to an undermanned outpost in South Vietnam.  There, he is charged with overseeing a group of South Viatnemese and does his best to fulfill his obligations though he never regards his assignment as much more than an exercise in futility.  Craig Wasson, Marc Singer, and Evan Kim offer up noteworthy performances and director Ted Post does a great job of bringing Daniel Ford's 1967 novel Incident at Muc Wa to the screen.  As the picture progresses, the movie's title becomes more and more pertinent.  Barker's understanding of the situation is mostly ignored by his superiors who aren't stationed in the combat zone and thus the odds of survival for our heroes rapidly diminish.  Go Tell the Spartans is a methodical anti-war film that lacks the star power, the exciting overtones, and the rock soundtrack of many better-known Vietnam sagas, but it is undeniably authentic and extremely well-acted.  It offers little in the way of hope, though a motion picture that seeks to probe the beginning of that difficult period in American history should emerge as a downer.  It wasn't a big-budget film and it isn't slick or exciting, but it is compelling.  Finally, Go Tel the Spartans is worth seeing for Burt Lancaster's somber performance alone, and anyone who enjoys this sort of fare should definitely seek it out. 

Final Grade: B


 Craig Wasson also starred in another of my favorite films about the Vietnam conflict that doesn't get the respect it deserves, The Boys in Company C.


The ill-fated Major Asa Barker's last words: "Oh shit."

No comments:

Post a Comment