The West as Viet Nam as the West

Steve Gomes (
Wed, 31 Jan 1996 08:30:46 -0500

>Course if we're going to dip further back into film history and the western
>in particular as Ben Friedlander and Ryan Stanley so ably do, I think another
>sleeper of a Vietnam film is Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch."


Another excellent Western/Viet Nam war/POW-MIA/'Phantom Blooper' film is
_The Professionals_ (Richard Brooks, 1966). This film has the "elite
team"--assembled of the best men in each of four fields: tactics,
demolition, tracking and transportation--summoned to the private train of J.
W. Grant. Grant offers them each $10,000 to rescue his wife (Claudia
Cardinale) who, he says, has been kidnapped by Jesus Raza (Jack Palance) and
taken across the border into Mexico. The men accept and--led by Fardan (Lee
Marvin)--set off to rescue Grant's wife, Maria. Problems arise when the team
recovers Maria and she tells them that she wasn't kidnapped, she ran away to
be with Raza. The team drags them back across the border, but after
realizing that Grant is the abusive, kidnapping SOB that Maria said he was
(and that they've been his unwitting accomplices), they release her and Raza
back across the border.

Also, while we're on the Western thing, check out: _Jump Cut_ #36 has Kali's
excellent article called _War Looking at Film Looking at War_; which
includes the amazing:

"Sergeant-Major Mike Kukler describes the gunfights in which 60 men died
during the first four months of 1968:

Men would buy specially made low-slung holsters and the soldiers would
face each other like cowboys and Indians looking for a fast draw. About
half of the deaths occurred in the 19, 20, and 21 year-old age groups.
Thirty percent of all deaths were caused when the drawer shot himself
in the leg. One fourth of these deaths were officer deaths."

--Holmes, Richard, _Acts of War..._, page 192

Steve Gomes
Sixties Project & Viet Nam Generation, Inc.
18 Center Rd., Woodbridge, CT 06525
203/387-6882; fax 203/389-6104