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THE GREEN BERETS

While THE GREEN BERETS ($29) is far from John Wayne’s best film, I don’t think it truly deserves its critically reviled reputation. Certainly, I can understand The Duke wanting to make a film to honor the soldiers fighting and dying in, even as The Vietnam War was losing ground in the court of American public opinion. However, THE GREEN BERETS probably came off as far too much of a flag waving, right-winged propaganda piece to have had the desired effect at the time of its release. Looking at THE GREEN BERETS more than forty years after the fact, allows one to view the film with a sense of detachment that allows for a truer assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. Out of the context of the time in which it was made, THE GREEN BERETS is essentially a routine wartime melodrama, with a strong anti-communist message.

Opening at Fort Bragg, THE GREEN BERETS offers up Special Forces mission statement to members of the left wing newspaper media regarding the U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia. Said mission statement is with the evidence of communist countries arming both North Vietnamese soldiers, as well as Viet Cong guerrillas. Attending the briefing is Colonel Mike Kirby (John Wayne), the Green Beret commander set to take over in Vietnam. After a run in with skeptical newspaper reporter George Beckworth (David Janssen), Kirby advises the newspaperman that he needs to see the situation in Vietnam firsthand, before deciding if the U.S. presence is warranted. Segueing to South Vietnam, Beckworth observes Green Berets offering humanitarian aid to the locals, before witnessing a vicious enemy attack on the civilian population. The story then takes something of a disjointed turn, with Kirby leading a covert Special Forces operation to capture a high-ranking North Vietnamese officer.

As I stated above, THE GREEN BERETS is a fairly routine wartime melodrama, but there are entertaining aspects to the story, generally good production values where the military hardware is concerned and solid actors in the leading roles. Of course, some of the dialogue is stilted, in addition to being preachy, plus the film has a number of stereotypical characters, pacing issues, as well as the previously mentioned disjointed quality to its story. But then again, THE GREEN BERETS also has John Wayne, which tends to make up for a lot of the movie’s deficiencies. The cast of THE GREEN BERETS also features Jim Hutton, Aldo Ray, Raymond St. Jacques, Bruce Cabot, Jack Soo, George Takei, Patrick Wayne, Luke Askew and Irene Tsu.

Warner Home Video has made THE GREEN BERETS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Considering that THE GREEN BERETS is more than forty years old, the 1080p presentation is highly impressive. There are moments that this vintage film looks brand new and others that reveal its age, but not really in a negative way. Image sharpness and detail are usually quite good, although certain shots have a mild softness inherent to the original cinematography or as a result of optical postproduction work. There is a strong level of fine detail in close-ups and medium shots. Additionally, the image demonstrates reasonable dimensionality, with the depth of field being restricted by the lenses in use at the time of the production. Colors are pretty vivid, but never appear over-saturated level. Flesh tones usually look correct, but there is some evidence of the makeup man practicing his craft. Blacks are accurate, while the whites are crisp and clean. Contrast and shadow detail are also very strong performers, which enhance the terrific presentation of this four-decade-old movie. The elements from which THE GREEN BERETS has been transferred appear are incredibly clean looking for a film of this vintage. A modest veneer of grain is present in the image, with some shots showing more than others. Overall, this is a rather impressive film-like presentation.

THE GREEN BERETS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a one channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Most of the background hiss and surface noise has been scrubbed off of these the four-decade-old recordings, leaving it without distracting anomalies. Sonically, there are no bells or whistle, just a capable soundtrack that gets the job done. The sound is crisp, but the fidelity does have the expected limitations, with the music coming across in an acceptable manner. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital monaural tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a vintage Featurette entitled The Moviemakers: The Making Of The Green Berets, plus a Theatrical Trailer.

As I stated above, THE GREEN BERETS is far from John Wayne’s best film, but it isn’t as bad as its reputation would lead one to believe- bottom line, its a routine wartime melodrama featuring The Duke. The Blu-ray presentation looks remarkably good, that in conjunction with the presence of Wayne, makes it a title that fans will want to acquire.

 

 


The Green Berets [Blu-ray] (1968)

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DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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