decided to make a movie modeled on the conventionalnepics that flowed out of Hollywood during the SecondnWorld War. The Green Berets is not a typical World War IInpropaganda film, however. True, there is an enemy innSoutheast Asia who is easily assimilable to the cold,nbarbarous Jap who was a staple of the older films. There isnalso an enemy at home. He is no second generationnGerman, compromised into collaboration by a youthfulnindiscretion with the German-American Bund. He is annewspaper reporter (David Janssen), and he sneers at thengood, blunt Sergeant trying to explain political realities. Henis honest, though, and he accepts Wayne’s invitation to seenwhat Vietnam is really like.nIn World War 11 the refugees huddle in Gasablanca,nwaiting for the chance to go home. In Vietnam, the farmersnand hill people defend their own homes, and then in thennight the Cong come to slay their leaders and teachers andnparents. We see an orphaned Vietnamese boy who loses firstnhis family, then the honest South Vietnamese officer whontries to protect him, and finally, unexpectedly but withnseeming inevitability, the young American officer who hasntaken him under his wing. Played by Jim Hutton, thenofficer is returning from a mission in which a youngnVietnamese girl has sacrificed her virtue to trap a NorthnVietnamese general when he is caught in a trap and swungnhorribly into a grill of pungie sticks. The boy waits vainly fornhis new father to emerge from the landing helicopters.nThen he and John Wayne walk off together along thenbeach. “After all, you’re what this war is all about.” Onenreporter converted, one general captured, but the best arenslain, and there is little hope that the horror of emptinessnwill ever be erased from the young soul who has looked intonthat abyss.nThe Green Berets was to prove prophetic in its themes,nbut it had littie influence on the many antiwar movies ofnthe 70’s. The question was not what was the war like—thenevening television news was answering that question graphically.nWhat, rather, was happening to the men who werenserving in Vietnam. Jane Fonda’s Coming Home set anpattern. On the one side we see Bruce Dern, ruined by thenwar as man and husband; on the other, the compassionatenparaplegic, Jon Voigt, driven by the war not into despair butninto the conviction that no war is worth dying or killing for.nHe is even made a more satisfying lover by his antiwarnconversion, and he converts college students and MissnFonda, not by a rugged John Wayne trip to Vietnam, but bynthe power of his tongue.nAt the end of the decade, Francis Ford Coppola’s ApocalypsenNow, confused as it was by the director’s change fromnantiwar partisan to admirer of Nietzsche and power, stillnconcentrated on the wildness, the craziness of the war.nMartin Sheen is sent on a bizarre literary mission tonassassinate a renegade U.S. officer, who is also Kurtz fromnJoseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” Kurtz is MarlonnBrando, stewing in an Orson Welles-like obesity, worshipingnpower and death. Sheen himself is haunted and brokennby the bloodthirsty climax of his successful mission. Competencenhas become as crazy as Brando’s berserker deathncamp. (Earlier in the movie we see Robert Duvall as ancavalry officer ordering a helicopter raid on a coastal villagenso that his new recruit from California can surf) Duvall’snbravery in the midst of the whistling and exploding bombs isnimpressive, but we feel that it is an insane bravado.nThe original filming of the scene included Duvallnmanifesting compassion as well as war-lust, when he dashesnthrough the shelling to rescue a deserted baby. Coppola cutnthe scene, to Duvall’s publicly expressed disgust. Compassionnwould have spoiled the one dimensional powerworshipnthat now dominated Coppola’s weird version. Thenpublic was told that the effect of serving in Vietnam was tonmake the soldier a dangerous nut. On TV, the stock villain,nthe greedy businessman, was being replaced by the outwardlynnormal and patriotic soldier who was inside annuncontrollable killer, broken by his participation in ancriminal war.nWhile TV scriptwriters and movie reviewers applaudednone vision of the Vietnam vet, the popular imagination wasnfostering another. Few serious reviewers noted RollingnThunder, starring William Devane as a POW returned to anhometown no longer his. His wife is bra-less (“No onenwears them any more”) and wants a divorce to remarry.nAttractive young women are his for the asking. .Thennhoodlums break into his house and brutalize him, althoughnthey cannot break him. He has, after all, been tortured bynthe best, the Vietnamese Communists. They do get to hisnwife and son and after robbing them, shoot them. Devanenloses his family not to divorce and the new morality, but tonviolence.nWhen he recovers, he goes hunting with a fellow POW.nHis lover discovers that he wants revenge more than sex andncries out, “Why do I always get stuck with the crazy men?”nHis answer is, “That’s the only kind left.” The finalndebacle, the annihilation of a Chicano whorehouse wherenhis attackers are reveling, leaves no doubt of his disgust atnthe sexual revolution and the new open society of the 60’s.nSome have seen in Rolling Thunder another movie about anVietnam vet who turns into a psychotic killer, but this,nsurely, is to miss the gravamen of the movie’s chargesnagainst America. Those who bore the brunt of fighting andnsuffering return to find the country they fought for gone. Itndid not desert them technically. Nixon and Kissinger gotnthem out, all right. But it is no longer their country. Thenway of life they fought to defend is gone.nViolence and selfishness and sex have created a new waynof life. Many Vietnam movies are concerned about betrayalnby the leadership, the government. The American peoplenare all right, but they need to hear the facts that were keptnfrom them. In Rolling Thunder it is the ordinary Texansnwho have sold out, betrayed what the vets fought for. Thenmelting pot of America is a whorehouse and the heroesnlimp off, embracing, at the successful completion of theirnmission, the destruction of that whorehouse and its violent,ndegenerate inhabitants.nThere are two angers in Vietnam movies. One, moreneasily assuaged, is anger against THEM, the ones who soldnus out, whether in fighting a criminal war or in not lettingnus win it. At the heart of Rolling Thunder, however, boilsnthe deeper resentment against the people who used the yearsnof the war to betray, to let slip from their hands in somencases, the ideals for which the soldiers fought. This resentmentnsurfaced again in a spectacular fashion in SylvesternStallone’s surprise hit. First Blood. Stallone’s Rambo is annnDECEMBER 1985 / 21n