Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam’

Caution: this is a relatively long post reviewing two movies…  You’ve been warned.
Today’s reviews are re-watches from my childhood:  “Tribes” (1970) and “The D.I.” (1957).  Both are movies about being in Marine Corps Boot Camp.  “The D.I.” was released when I was two years old, so I obviously never saw it on original release, but I remember seeing it in my early teens.  “Tribes” I saw on its original TV broadcast.  I recently discovered / watched both movies on YouTube.
The D.I.” — movie review
If you’ve ever wondered what “Dragnet” would look like if it were turned into Marine Corps Boot Camp, this is the movie for you.  The movie stars Jack Webb (who also produced and directed the film) as Sergeant Jim Moore who is a Drill Instructor (“D.I.”) at Paris Island.  His job is to turn civilians into Marines and he has a problem in the person of Private Owens (played by Don Dubbins).  Whenever Owens feels he’s under pressure, he quits / gives up.  The company Captain (Lin McCarthy) feels Moore is getting soft and orders Moore to bring Owens around or get rid of him.
There are (of course) side issues:  one – Moore is falling for a shop clerk (Jackie Loughery) named “Annie”, which is wrecking his “tough-guy” Marine self-image;  and, two – Owens’ mother (Monica Lewis) appeals to Moore that she coddled Owens and she lost her husband (in WWII) and her two older sons (in Korea).  She wants Moore to make her son into a Marine or he won’t be able to live with himself.
This movie is shot in black and white and it is fairly dark.  I guess as a nod to realism, the movie has a scene with Moore and Annie which (shockingly) edges very close to date rape.  It doesn’t happen, but I was surprised it was even implied in a movie from that period.  Incidentally, in real life, Loughery married Webb the following year (1958).  Despite this being a “Webb” movie (“Just the facts, Ma’am…”), from the 50’s, it is also a happily ever after ending movie – for the Private / mom and the Sergeant / clerk.  Who woulda guessed?
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  Viewed as a “Webb” production, this is a classic.  As a period piece, I would say it’s still pretty much a classic.  This movie was my first introduction to the concept of “Basic Training / Boot Camp”, and I remember it had a fairly strong effect on my impressionable mind.  Don’t get me wrong, this movie is not a cinematic “classic” and it’s really only a fair movie, but, in watching it, it reminded me of the simpler times of my childhood when things did seem more “black-and-white”.
Tribes” — movie review
Tribes” is not strictly speaking a “real” movie.  Back in the 1970’s, one of the main TV networks (ABC) used to run what it called the: “ABC Movie of the Week“.  Some of the ninety minute movies were pretty good and some even became TV series in their own right.
Tribes” is a movie about a free-spirited (that’s “hippie”) individual who joins the Marine Corps and who has to go to (and survive) Boot Camp.  It stars Jan-Michael Vincent as the free-spirited Private Adrian, Darren McGavin as Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Drake, and Earl Holliman as Chief Drill Instructor (and Drake’s boss) Master Sergeant Frank DePayster.
The movie always seemed to me to be a message about the changing times of the 1960’s / 1970’s in America.  You’ve got two straight-arrow Marine lifers, but one has a streak of decency and the other does not.  Ultimately, the leadership abilities of the young recruit pushes not only his platoon to excel, but also to win over the D.I. nominally there to break his individuality and “turn him into” a Marine who will follow orders.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  I was very surprised how much of this movie I could recall after nearly 50 years from my first (and only) viewing.  LoL – this movie also introduced me to meditation / alternative states of consciousness and boxers vs briefs.
I am very biased towards this movie as it had a personal effect on me when I was in Basic Training for the Army four years later.  When I was learning to fire the M16, I asked my Drill Sergeant why we used “human” silhouettes instead of “bulls-eye” targets, he replied, “because we want you to learn to shoot at people.”  He went on to explain Fort Ord (where I had my Basic Training) had the highest casualty and injury statistics of any of the training facilities which sent soldiers to Vietnam.  It was determined this was because “West Coast” city boys didn’t shoot at other humans instinctively.  Using silhouettes, trained them to shoot as a reaction instead of pausing to take aim.  Fortunately, I never had to put this to the test…
On This Day In:
2018 Being President Doesn’t Make You Presidential
Day 27: 4 Weeks / 55lbs
2017 I’m Seeing It, Too
2016 Personal Decisions
2015 Verbal Fluency
2014 Familiar
2013 Unbending
2012 Simple Sayings
2011 Wupped Again?
2010 3 and 1…
Musical Notes…
Doubt Tries…
Northwest Passages – Evening Two
The Beierly’s Web Site

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What was really defeated in Vietnam, Baritz  concludes, was American culture, specifically business management techniques and the cult of technology.  These are our vaunted strengths, and it was these strengths that brought about our defeat.
From his account, Baritz draws two conclusions.  First, as long as our culture is bureaucratic and technological we should avoid situations that demand strength of character, political skill or a sense of history.  A bureaucratic culture does not value these skills and so cannot produce them.  Second, the only way to avoid future Vietnams is to revise ideals of citizenship, public service and military honor.  As long as individual Americans encourage themselves to “look out for number one”, the nation will continue to “crash around the world in the dumb and murderous way it did in Vietnam.”
[The above were quotes from a review of the book: “Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did” (1985©), written by Loren Baritz.   Unfortunately, my journal (circa 1985) does not indicate who wrote the review or where it was published.  It also does not indicate that I ever actually read the original work.  If anyone should happen to recognize the quotes, please let me know and I will provide an accurate attribution.  —  KMAB]
On This Day In:
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2015 One Day
2014 Too Bad
2013 Unfinished
2012 First Steps Along The Path
2011 A Small Part Of Future Webs

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Agony never made a society quit fighting, as far as I know.  A society has to be captured or killed — or offered things it values. 

… One wonders now where our leaders got the idea that mass torture would work to our advantage in Indochina.  It never worked anywhere else.  They got the idea from childish fiction, I think, and from a childish awe of torture.

… I am very sorry we tried torture.  I am sorry we tried anything.  I hope we never try torture again.  It doesn’t work.  Human beings are stubborn and brave animals everywhere.  They can endure amazing amounts of pain, if they have to.

—  Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
from his book: “Wampeters Foma & Granfalloons

[Obviously, this is a book Bush / Cheney never bothered to read.  —  KMAB]


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The Republican Party, which had presided over America’s rise to manufacturing preeminence, has acquiesced in the deindustrialization of the nation to gratify transnational corporations whose oligarchs are the party financiers.  U.S. corporations are shutting factories here, opening them in China, “outsourcing” back-office work to India, importing Asians to take white-collar jobs from Americans, and hiring illegal aliens for their service jobs.  The Republican Party has signed off on economic treason.
  —  Patrick J. Buchanan
From his book: “Where The Right Went Wrong
[While I agree with Pat that the Republican party has committed the equivalent of economic treason, I must disagree with the statement Republicans “presided over America’s rise to manufacturing preeminence“.
America rose to manufacturing preeminence during and because of World War II while FDR was President and the Democrats controlled both houses in Congress.  The economy stalled under Eisenhower and was revived by the Kennedy / Johnson period.  We started to falter at the end of Johnson and began our descent under Nixon, mostly because of the gas crisis (72-73) and the long term effects of government spending from Vietnam (Johnson and Nixon).  Both Reagan and Bush (the first) had recessions and it was Clinton’s Administration which brought growth.  Reagan, a “true” conservative, proposed there was no damage to the economy by going into debt (mostly to increase government spending on big ticket military purchases “star-wars” and new aircraft carriers) and then signed off on the largest tax increases in history (actually mostly closing business loopholes) to reduce the debt he had sponsored – although he was NEVER able to come up with a balanced budget let alone get Congress to pass one.  Bush II practically drove the whole planet into bankruptcy and global depression with a combination of deregulation and unpaid for wars.  Granted not all of the deregulation was actually passed into law during “W’s” administration.  His administration merely encouraged the abuses inherent in an unregulated market.
No, Pat.  Sorry.  The Republican Party has not presided over an America’s rise to manufacturing preeminence since the Civil War, and again, the manufacturing increase was because a war effort stimulated the economy and government spending – not because Republican political or economic theories are correct.
It just so happens I DO believe in small government which stays out of the way of the people and in capitalism.  But government must be big enough to defend us from modern day threats: foreign and domestic, terrorist and corporate.  At the moment, the U.S. has more to fear from multinational and “too big to fail” domestic corporations than it does from 200 to 500 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It used to be said the two biggest threats to democracy are an overly efficient tax system and an overly efficient military.  It seems we should now recognize the BIGGEST threat to democracy is an unregulated capitalist economy.  And on this, at least, we can agree – the Republican Party are economic traitors!   —  KMAB]

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