Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Veteran (2006)


                “The Veteran” is a made-for-TV film.  It was the third in Sidney Furie’s Vietnam War trilogy.  The other two were “The Boys in Company C” and “Under Heavy Fire”.  One of my sources said his trilogy was similar to Oliver Stone’s. I had to laugh at that.  Yes, they are comparable in that they each have three movies and they are about the Vietnam War.  That’s it.  While Stone is considered a good director, Furie is mostly noted for straight-to-DVD movies that are mostly crap.  Let’s see if this is one of them. 

                The movie opens with a title card telling us there are 1,835 prisoners of war that are still missing.  (This was the issue that Ross Perot became famous for.  Oh, and Rambo, too.)  In modern day Ho Chi Minh City (what used to be Saigon), a black clergyman named Watson (Bobby Hosea) visits his old lover’s home.  Queue the flashback.  She had a child by him, but then he left her to go back to the States.  She is not happy to see him.  When he returns to his hotel room, the camera focuses on the ceiling fan.  Seriously?  Did Furie really want to steal from “Apocalypse Now”?  The next flashback is to a chaotic battle featuring Capt. Ramsey (Casper Van Dien through footage from “Under Heavy Fire”).  Watson earned a Bronze Star.  Suddenly, he is confronted by a creepy dude named Jordan (Michael Ironside).  He was a medic in that chaotic scene and was left behind.  He has issues.  He was held prisoner for six years and when released he decided to stay in Vietnam.  He didn’t even let his mother know he was alive!  Meanwhile, Watson’s room is bugged by the CIA.  Agent Sara Reid (Ally Sheedy) is trying to locate missing in action.  And then some Furie-ous things happen.  A chaplain (don’t ask what a platoon is doing with a chaplain) goes into no man’s land to pop smoke.  Later, he throws a grenade to save Jordan’s life.  A chopper drops a bunch of dead bodies on a village.  One of the Americans sets fire to a hootch.  This is considered an atrocity even though no one was hurt!  A later scene looks like it is set in Hue.  Don’t expect Kubrich’s Hue.  Stick around for the ridiculous twist ending.

                Sorry I spent so much time on the plot.  It really didn’t deserve it.  Much of what happens makes little sense.  I didn’t even mention the offensive gay subplot.  The acting matches the plot.  It’s bad.  Ironside chews scenery and the rest of the actors are second-rate.  Apparently, Van Dien turned down the opportunity to star in this one.  When you can’t get Casper, you know you are in trouble.  But, you do get to see a fighting Chaplain. The combat is B-movie and some of it is recycled.  There are a lot of gas explosions.

                I can now die in peace now that I have seen Furie’s Vietnam War trilogy.  I know some of you have a positive view of “Boys of Company C”, which is clearly the best movie of the three.  However, if you are like me and you think it is a bad movie, there is absolutely no reason to watch this movie.  It’s worse than bad.  Did I mention it has a stupid title?


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Screaming Eagles (1956)


            “Screaming Eagles” is an homage to the American paratroopers who dropped the night before D-Day.  It was a black and white drive-in movie.  Director Charles Haas made a living making B-rated movies.  This was his only war movie.  He was allowed to film at Fort Benning, Ga.  Richard Case, a veteran of D-Day with the 101st Airborne, acted as a technical adviser.  Also on set was Werner Klingler, a German director who had a role in the film.

            “This is the story of 15 paratroopers of Company D, 502nd Paratrooper Regiment, 101st Airborne”.  (For you Band of Brothers fans, their unit was the 505th.)  Right before D-Day, a platoon receives replacements that includes Pvt. Mason (Tom Tryon).  He’s a jerk with a chip on his shoulder.  Everyone in the barracks, except Corliss (Martin Milner), takes an instant dislike to him.  He does not ingratiate himself when he trashes the barracks after getting a Dear John letter.  Lt. Pauling (Jan Merlin) convinces the men to give him another chance.  Before he can earn redemption, they get the word to go.  Their mission is capture and hold a bridge.  Footage of paratroopers boarding a plane. Typical banter on board.  Practicing with those clicker thingies.  No one yells “Geronimo!”  They land 20 miles from the bridge.  SNAFU.  Mason is blamed for starting a firefight that gets the popular Cpl. Dreef killed.  This guy just keeps digging his hole deeper.  As penance, he is put in charge of the blinded Lt. Pauling.  They attack a house where they find a comely French lass named Marianne (Jacqueline Beer – 1954’s Miss Universe runner-up).  They decide to Trojan Horse a German truck to get to the bridge.

            “Screaming Eagles” seems awfully quaint compared to Band of Brothers.  It is closer to an episode of Combat!, but worse.  It does have a decent cast going for it.  Tryon has ben largely forgotten, but he was a second tier star in the 1960s.  This was his second movie.  He went on to co-star in “The Longest Day” and “In Harm’s Way”.  He was a good actor, but he has little to work for here.  Mason is your classic a**hole who no one wants in his fox hole.  Weirdly, he is set up for redemption that doesn’t come because he is not allowed to do anything heroic.  The cast is decent for a low budget film.  I mentioned a young Martin Milner, but Robert Blake is also in it.  Jacqueline Beer’s role smacks of stunt casting, but she is not an anchor.  (She reminds of Denise Darcel in “Battleground”.)  Ms. Beer only made three movies and is probably most famous for being Thor Heyerdahl’s (of Kon Tiki fame) second wife.  Her Marianne earns her place on the poster with a feisty attitude and genuine support for the boys.  Surprisingly, there is no time for romance, or even a kiss. 

            The biggest problem with the movie is it is just not that entertaining.  The mission is unrealistic and the way they carry it out defies credulity.  I know it’s not a documentary, but we can expect some effort if you are honoring real heroes.  The combat is poorly staged.  It looks like some boys playing soldier on a sound stage.  All the vehicles are obviously American with German markings.  There is too much reliance on footage.  The film even uses footage of Germans moving, as though they couldn’t get enough uniforms and extras to shoot that.  The best I can say for it is it lasts only 79 minutes.  Band of Brothers “Day of Days” only lasts 49.  That is a much better investment of your time.


Sunday, September 11, 2022



1.  What movie is the picture from?
2.  What movie is this quote from?

People on the street corners, they looked at this picture and they took hope. Don't ask me why, I think it's a crappy picture, myself. You can't even see your faces! But it said we can win this war, are winning this war, we just need you to dig a little deeper. They want to give us that money. No, they want to give it to you.

3.  What movie is this?

            It was a joint American-Japanese project with separate directors and production.  The two separate “films” were then intertwined to create the finished product.  The movie bounces back and forth between the opposing sides seamlessly.  The screenplay was written by two Japanese and an American, The screenplay was based on the eponymous nonfiction book by Gordan Prange and “The Broken Seal” by Ladislas Farago.  Prange vetted the script.