Go Tell the Spartans is now open for Discussion

Our August 2007 film selection, Go Tell the Spartans, is now open for discussion. Members who would like to Post an Official Commentary here are welcome to do so (Contact Ron or Roger if you would like to have posting priveleges to this blogsite). Anyone, member or not, can place brief comments here by simply clicking on the comments button.


2 thoughts on “Go Tell the Spartans is now open for Discussion


    The movie was directed by Ted Post, a veteran TV director from the golden age of television who did not graduate to feature films until the 60’s; but he never had the verve or style of say a Robert Altman, John Frankenheimer, or Sydney Pollack. His directing on GO TELL THE SPARTANS (1978) was a bit lackluster at best. Some of his earlier efforts included HANG ‘EM HIGH (1968), BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970), and MAGNUM FORCE (1973). He did have a good but uninspired cinematographer, Harry Stradling Jr., and with a modest budget, a brilliant script, and a powerhouse cast, Ted Post gave use a very good military film that paved the way for other anti-war films to follow it. One of my favorites was HBO’s A BRIGHT SHINING LIE (1998) with Bill Paxton.

  2. Continued….

    Based on the fine novel INCIDENT AT MUC WA by Daniel Ford, here is a gem of a war movie; full of insights, barbs, politics, exciting battle scenes, and caustic wit. Burt Lancaster played Maj. Asa Barker, a 30 year career officer, long ago adjusted to being assigned to “garbage details”—after a disastrous incident, a youthful and macho escapade, left him vulnerable and in need of being “punished” for the rest of his career. His terrific one-liners and anti-hero weariness initially created a kind of M.A.S.H. environment, whereby it seemed that all the foul-up in the U.S. Army was sent to his outfit. But in no time the film shifts its serio-comic aspects into a grim primer about the price of arrogance and ignorance strutting around in some else’s country.

    A young Marc Singer, fresh from his theatrical triumph as Petrucio at ACT San Francisco, played Capt. Olivetti –a very brash second-in-command who felt that “a little combat” put him on the fast track for career advancements. The delicious scene between him and Lancaster, as Maj. Barker explained why “after 30 years and a bucket of medals” he was still a major is priceless; a real high point to be added to Lancaster’s lexicon of great scenes in great films.

    Craig Wasson played Cpl.Courcey, a draftee who “volunteered for combat”, who felt the need to reach out to the people, the villagers, until he was disastrously betrayed by his own naiveté –having to accept the fact that no one was trustworthy, not women or children. Jonathan Goldsmith, a very good actor who spent most of his career doing television roles, shined as Sgt. Oleonowski. For a time, his take-charge non-com saved everyone’s bacon, until the terrible ghosts of his past and PTSD caught up with him and pulverized him emotionally first into lethargy and then into suicide. Goldsmith’s character stole every scene he was in. We wanted to see more of this sergeant, and to let this character have more focus; like a shining story within a story. In just a few brief scenes it was obvious that his back story was very clear to this actor.

    Dolph Sweet was Gen. Harnitz, who was determined that by God no Americans would ever face the humiliating defeats that the French had experienced. We watch as America’s great mistakes in Southeast Asia were planted as seeds of hubris, underestimating the enemy, and attempting to fight a conventional war against guerillas –against an indigent population who had fought all their lives, first against the Japanese, then the Chinese, the French, and now the ugly Americans.

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