Thursday, June 6, 2013

BOOK / MOVIE: The Short Timers / Full Metal Jacket

         I recently reviewed “Full Metal Jacket” and then read the book it’s based on (again).  The movie is based on The Short Timers by Gustav Harford.  The book is amazing and is in some ways better than the movie.  I highly recommend it as a companion to the movie, especially since it carries the story beyond the movie. 
          I thought others might like to know how the movie differs from the book (especially because the book is hard to find) and what happens in the book after the events in the movie.  Spoiler alert from here.  The following are differences in the book and my judgment of whether the movie or book is better.

1.  Leonard (Pyle) is a skinny red neck.  Movie

2.  DI Gerheim is less imaginative in his verbal abuse, but Ermey did use many of his lines.  Gerheim uses a lot more physical abuse.  For example, Greheim almost drowns Pyle in a toilet that he had the squad leaders pee in.   Movie

3.  On graduation day, Pyle is given the outstanding recruit and marksmanship awards.  Movie

4.  Pyle is in his bunk when the climactic moment occurs.  He is not malevolent, just crazy.  He is in love with his rifle.  Gerheim does chew him a new one, but his last words are that he is proud of the killing machine he has created.  Movie

5.  Joker first reunites with Cowboy in a movie theater that is showing “The Green Berets”.  Here is where the Joker / Animal Mother hatred begins.  The dynamic between the two characters is more involved in the book.  Book

6.  The book spends more time on how the Marines manipulated the press coverage of the war.  The author, Gustav Hasford, was a Combat Correspondent.  Book

7.  The book has a scene where Joker and the other correspondents light some rats on fire in a game called “the rat race”.  The funeral is when they sing “Mickey Mouse”.  Book

8.  There is no defense of the entrance to the base.  Movie

9.  Animal Mother is more of a psychopath in the book.  He kills a platoon leader (Short Round) in a fragging incident.  Movie

10.  There are two sniper incidents in the book.  The movie mashes them up.  The first, set in Hue, involves a tank blasting buildings as the squad goes house to house looking for the sniper that killed T.H.E. Rock.  Although the book mentions that the sniper picks off a bunch of men that go after him.  This story is told to Joker, not featured in the book.  The sniper is a girl and Rafter Man does kill her with Joker finishing her off.  The action takes place on a roof-top.  Cowboy was wounded, but not killed.  Animal Mother cuts her head off and waves it around.  Movie

Here are some of the things that happen after the movie concludes.

1.  Rafter Man (he got the name from drunkenly falling from the rafters onto a general’s table during a show) is killed when he is run over by a tank on the road out of Hue.

2.  Joker gets busted to private because of his peace symbol and is assigned to the Lust Hog Squad which is at Khe Sanh.  Cowboy is still in command.  Cowboy has developed into an excellent leader.

3.  The squad is sent out on a long patrol.  During a rest break, Joker pulls a knife on Animal Mother.  Alice (black point man similar to Eight Ball in the movie) gets hit by a sniper in a similar situation to in the movie except it is set in the jungle.  The Doc goes to him and gets wounded.  The New Guy charges out and gets hit.  At this point, Cowboy puts Joker in command and orders him to pull back the squad.  Cowboy runs out to put the men out of their misery with his pistol and then Joker shoots him because the sniper prevents Cowboy from killing himself.  The squad pulls back. 

The sequel to "The Short Timers" is entitled "The Phantom Blooper".  It basically has three parts.

1.  Joker is at Khe Sanh and the siege is coming to an end.  He has become hardened and cynical.  He is in tight with the "bloods" who are heavily into dope and bucking authority.  There is rumor of an American who has switched sides and uses his M-79 against the Marines in the base - the Phantom Blooper.  Joker gets captured.

2.  Joker gets chummy with the Viet Cong holding him in a village.  He plans to escape, but meanwhile plays collaborator.  We get a heavy dose of Viet Cong culture.  He goes on a mission with them.  The village gets assaulted to rescue him and he fights against the Americans.  Joker is wounded and liberated.

3.  Returning home, Joker has trouble transitioning.  At the end he is planning to return to Vietnam.

This was supposed to be the second in a trilogy, but Hasford died.

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