John Wayne’s “The Green Berets” was released in 1968 under severe criticism for the depiction of the Vietnam War. Even in the recent years it seems like critics remain on the same line as back in the day, in 2005, Roger Ebert placed it in his most-hated films. Let’s see what this release has to offer.
It’s easy to overlook John Wayne’s “The Green Berets” in its efforts to showcase what many men were doing across the sea in a conflict that wasn’t theirs; it came out as a naive interpretation of the conflict. The film was never ill-tended, John Wayne’s aim was to pay tribute to the troops, and however, the film became, unintentionally, another form of propaganda. This is perhaps one of John Wayne’s most overlooked films, why? Simply because of the theme of the film.
The film begins in North Carolina where reporter George Beckworth (David Janssen) is allowed to join a Special Forces briefing about the American military involvement in Vietnam. Beckworth remains skeptical on the information provided regarding the involvement in the war. Green Beret Col. Mike Kirby (John Wayne) invites Beckworth to come along on to Vietnam and see first-hand what’s happening. George Beckworth obviously accepts. After arriving in Vietnam, Col. Kirby leads his men in an attempt of capturing a North Vietnamese field commander. Meanwhile, Beckworth has a change of heart which helps him understand why the war was necessary.
I would have found this film slightly less annoying if it wasn’t for Wayne’s constant preaching and constant propaganda-like comments. His voice could be heard even when he wasn’t the person in the scene, I really hate to slam a film, but seriously it seems like he could have played every role in the film and he could have been happy. Maybe if the other characters had some type of development as the movie progressed, the end result might have been different. Even a decent cast that includes John Wayne, David Janssen, Jim Hutton, and George Takei were not able to save this film from tanking. I can’t begin to wonder why The Green Berets made it into a high definition release ahead of other catalog titles, but hey there’s always someone looking to pick up films like these.
The Green Berets arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 encode framed at 2.40:1. This is not the best restoration job I have seen so far, in fact there’s many problems with the video. I know it’s a 40-year-old film and perhaps it’s the reason why there are some remaining issues present in the video. The colors are vibrant, blacks are deep and well reproduced throughout the film. While the fine detail is not the best out there it is quite good for a film of this age. There is some DNR on the film; there are some soft scenes as well as some artifacts throughout. Even with the issues found the video can sometimes look impressive.
The Green Berets arrives on Blu-ray with a Dolby TrueHD mono track. Films like The Green Berets often deserve to be faithful to the original audio, however, a 5.1 mix would have been nice. The audio isn’t so bad, the dialogue is clear for the most part, but it does tend to get diminished when explosions and gunfire come on screen. There is no depth in the audio, as most actors’ lines sound just like they are far away at time. For those looking for original source material this should be good enough, for the rest expecting their surround system to be put to work are going to be left dissatisfied.
The Green Berets is a huge disappointment in the extras department, there isn’t really much to talk about. It isn’t much but I suppose something is better than nothing. Check below for the list of supplements.
The Moviemakers: The Green Berets
The Green Berets is a decent film, but there’s too many clichés and ‘The Duke’s “ constant preaching is a bit of an annoyance. The video is above average and at time impressive considering the age of the film. The audio is a bit of a letdown, but I am sure John Wayne fans will appreciate the faithfulness to the original sound track. I can’t say this film is for everyone so for those looking for a great John Wayne film look elsewhere.